• Women represent 68% of media graduates, but only 40% of the workforce in the media sector
  • Member states and equality bodies should pay attention to the presence and advancement of women in the media sector
  • Media companies should create safe environments and provide support to victims in cases of harassment

Member states and media companies should step up their efforts to combat gender inequality in the media sector, say Gender Equality MEPs.

A report adopted on Tuesday by the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee (by 25 votes in favour, 4 against and 0 abstentions) calls on member states and national equality bodies to fully implement existing legislation addressing gender equality and to encourage regulatory bodies to monitor the presence and advancement of women in the media sector, which currently employs over one million people in the EU.

 

In 2015, women represented 68% of journalism and information graduates in the EU, but the percentage of women employed in the media sector is languishing at 40%. Only 37% of news stories are reported by women, a figure which has not improved for ten years. Besides, less than one in five experts or commentators in the media is a woman.

 

In the public media in the EU, where the representation of women is low on average, around one third of executive posts and media board seats are occupied by women. Gender Equality Committee MEPs call on member states and media organisations to support and develop incentive measures, including quotas, for the equal representation of women and men in decision-making posts.

 

Mainstreaming gender equality in all media contents

 

Gender Equality MEPs also stress that, although linked to freedom of expression, editorial freedom should not, under any circumstances, serve to encourage or legitimise degrading portrayals of women. They recommend that gender equality plans or guidelines should be given more prominence in media organisations in order to promote a positive portrayal of women in advertising, news, reporting, production and broadcasting.

 

Furthermore, they urge public and private media to mainstream gender equality in all their content.

 

Combatting harassment and intimidation

 

MEPs also highlight that women in the media are encountering growing levels of harassment: half of the women employed in the media have experienced sexual abuse, one quarter of them have experienced acts of physical violence and three quarters have experienced intimidation, threats or abuse.

 

MEPs thus encourages media companies to create safe environments that are responsive to any cases of harassment and call for specific measures, including awareness-raising, internal rules and sanctions for offenders, and psychological and legal support for victims.

 

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Rapporteur Michaela Šojdrová (EPP, CZ) said: ‘‘Media, both public and private, are supposed to serve society as the fourth power. Their structure and work should therefore reflect the fact that women make up half of society. The proportion of women in decision-making posts in media is rather worrying. Not only can this imbalance affect the content and focus of the media, but it also contributes to the general widening of the pay and pension gap between women and men.”

Next steps

 

The full House should debate and vote on the text adopted in committee during the March plenary session in Strasbourg.

 

To mark the International Women’s Day, the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee will organise an inter-parliamentary committee meeting on ‘‘Empowering women and girls in media and ICTs: key for the future’’ on Thursday 8 March. The first panel will focus on women shaping media. The event will take place in the European Parliament in Brussels from 09.00 to 12.30.