Dhensel Research and Consulting (DRC) firm is currently conducting a survey on strengthening media assessment capabilities to advocate for a gender-sensitive media.
The survey aims to strengthen the environment for press freedom, journalistic safety and/or self-regulation for on-line media through favourable policies and practices. It is also to promote good governance and transparency by developing pluralistic media institutions including community media by building media professional capacities.
The founder of Dhensel, Kezang Dema said, “This is the first kind of survey in Bhutan to understand women in media.” She said that media can play a key role to empower women and therefore there is the need to adopt specific focus for women by amending code of ethics and policies.
The founder said that the number of women representative in the 11 news media organizations in the country has a significant number of women journalists. However, she added that the numbers do not meet with the expected women representation on the leadership position in the media houses.
The factors affecting the number of women roles in the leadership position includes balancing tricky profession and family affairs, harassment of various sorts at work and other physical challenges in the context of developing the nation where modern amnesties are still in the reaching.
To address the subject, DRC has become a partner to advocate the project called ‘Women for Change: Building a Gendered Media in South Asia’. It strives to strengthen media assessment capabilities to advocate for a gender sensitive media in the country. The project is a component of the regional initiative launched by United Nation Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the South Asia Women’s Network (SWAN). The initiation of the project covers nine South Asian countries; eight SAARC countries and Myanmar with the mission to advocate equal rights for women working in the media and engage with the stakeholders in improving the portrayal of women in media content.
Project coordinator Kezang Dema said that media plays a vital role in combating the gender issues. She said, “If we can empower women in media and do gender sensitization, the media will be stronger.” Giving a balanced statement, she said that however, the project did not sidelined men.
The present project aims address gender gap in media by conducting national baseline survey to determine the status of women in the Bhutanese media sector applying the UNESCO’s principles; Gender-Sensitive Indicators. Desk research will be done of existing studies, reports, media laws and regulation, and media curricula, reports/studies and stakeholders involves with gender and media. They will also carry out a national consultation to validate and disseminate the findings of the baseline survey and research. The report will be placed in the public domain informing all subsequent interventions and advocacy under the UNESCO-SWAN initiatives with other stakeholders involved in mainstreaming gender in Bhutanese media.
According to the Project Justification, media professionals in the country are guided by standards and norms that hardly pivot around gender themes with indelicate contents from untrained media practitioners.
The immediate objective of project is to build a strong empirical foundation for country level advocacy and lobbying. The project coordinator stated that the project will result in a structured body of country data on the issue of women in the media, along with a cadre of trained media assessment practitioners capable of updating and strategically using the data to effect media reform.
Kezang Dema said that the project is not commercial. She said its guided by advisory board having five members from Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BSS), Kuensel, Bhutan Media Foundation (BMF), Ministry of Information and Communications and National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC).
The DRC was founded by former journalists in 2014 to focus in media research and training.
By Sangay Rabten