Bridging the gender gap in electoral journalism

November 6, 2019

Sancharika Samuha’s interaction programme brought women journalists and women politicians together to build a network and to highlight the importance of a balanced gendered perspective in electoral journalism

Lalitpur, October 18-20: “We want to strengthen coordination and collaboration between women in journalism and women in politics,” said Babita Basnet, one of the facilitators at an event organized by Sancharika Samuha. Women, even successful professionals, continue to face discrimination in Nepal. In order to overcome such barriers in relation to elections, Sancharika Samuha, an organisation supporting woman journalists, arranged an interaction programme from 18 to 20 October in Lalitpur.

The first two days of the event consisted of a workshop with women journalists and the important role they can play during elections to include a gendered perspective in reporting; the last day was an interaction between women in journalism and women political leaders. The event was designed not only for capacity enhancement but also network building.

Twenty-four journalists representing different types of media—including television, radio, print and online, as well as national and local, state-owned and private—took part in the event. They shared their professional experiences, the challenges they have faced and the ways to overcome them. Most participants echoed that women in journalism seldom receive the opportunity to cover the political newsbeat, including elections. To this, UN CEDAW Vice-Chair, Bandana Rana, asserted the importance of women breaking stereotypes to cover a variety of topics. She encouraged the participants to ensure that their voices are heard through reporting.

Surya Aryal, Under-Secretary at the Election Commission, Nepal (ECN), led a session on the role of media in elections. He also stated that the ECN has a Media Centre to specifically cater to the media.

The event concluded with a meeting between the journalists and politicians. The group of 24 journalists were joined by 26 political leaders. The chief guest, Shivamaya Tumbahamphe, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, stated that journalists should support women in politics. She emphasized that their voices should be as equally represented in the media as that of their male counterparts.

The event emphasized the importance of having a balanced gendered perspective in journalism. It also proved to be an effective platform to discuss solutions to common problems, for women to unite and work collectively to make progress in their professions and ensure a women-friendly professional environment. Sancharika Samuha will organize three similar events at the provincial level over the coming weeks to ensure sensitization on these matters at the grassroots. This series of events is supported by the ECN, the European Union, UNDP and UNESCO.