UNESCO fights violence against women journalists
This publication presents personal experiences of eleven journalists who have been targeted by harassment and highlights how women journalists resist and fight back.
Around the globe, online and offline attacks on female journalists are escalating. These range from sexist hate speech and trolling to physical assault, rape and even murder. Women in the media are targeted consistently and threats against them often focus on their gender and physical features and are coupled with other forms of discrimination such as racism.
These attacks risk leading to self-censorship, thus impoverishing the global information landscape.
Encouragingly, recent UN resolutions and reports show a growing trend within the international community to recognize the specific risks women journalists face and to seek solutions. To this end, UNESCO continues to initiate research, capacity-building projects and information campaigns.
In April 2021, UNESCO released a pioneering discussion paper pointing to the sharp increase in online violence against women journalists – 73 per cent of the women surveyed reported experiencing it on the job. The Chilling: Global trends in online violence against women journalists is based on an interdisciplinary study carried out by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) for UNESCO to be published on 3 May 2022.
The paper shows that online attacks on women journalists have real-life impact on productivity and mental health; they intersect with disinformation and other forms of discrimination besides misogyny; and they are politically motivated. Media organizations and social platforms are still struggling to find effective responses.
In November, UNESCO and the Thomson Reuters Foundation launched two sets of practical guidelines: Gender-sensitive Safety Policies for Newsrooms and a Practical Guide for Women Journalists on How to Respond to Online Harassment, both produced with the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF). These publications provide techniques and tools to curb harassment and foster gender-sensitive workplaces. UNESCO, in cooperation with IWMF and the Knight Center has also produced self-directed online courses (in English, French and Spanish) on how to report safely aimed at women journalists and their allies.