Gender Equality in Media Development

Research and reports about the gender equality in media development and journalism support

Maharat Foundation, as part of the “Gender champions Media Initiative” project, with the support from UN Women and the British embassy in Beirut.

The report presents the international commitments to gender mainstreaming in media and entails a commitment pledge pertaining to gender equality, which can be endorsed by media institutions, with the aim of promoting a more gender-sensitive media landscape.

At the March 20th 2024 launch event, 12 media outlets endorsed the commitment pledge.

Full report is avalable here.

PRIMED: Gender learning brief (October, 2022)

Protecting Independent Media for Effective Development (PRIMED)

The full report is available here.

This learning brief aims to summarise key issues, evidence and trends on media and gender and help PRIMED partners identify opportunities to empower women as both media consumers and content producers as well as to amplify the voices of women in the media. It explores the links between improved gender equality in the workplace and the sustainability and viability of the media (a business case of gender equality). The brief also considers content formats which can promote gender equality in the public sphere and examines the role of self-regulation in ensuring that women are more fairly represented in media outputs.

DR. AIDA AL-KAISY - Elbarlament Cultures of Democracy

Online threats and violence have become entrenched in Iraq and are increasingly threatening political processes and prospects for democracy. Journalists, activists and those campaigning for change to what has become a deep-rooted corrupt political system. Individuals calling powers to account in its many forms are all facing online intimidation for their efforts. The protest movement and related political actors have been subjected to campaigns of online harassment. These consist of mis - and disinformation campaigns aimed at discrediting and undermining those who seek change. With significant resistance to this change from some sectors and actors, prospects for significant change continue to diminish in Iraq.

The report examines the prevalence of online violence towards women in Iraq. It begins by defining online violence. Using case studies and examples gathered through interviews with survivors of gendered online violence, it considers the relationship between online and offline violence and its impact on women’s political participation in Iraq as well as their long-term safety and security.

International Research & Exchanges Board

The purpose of this annex to the SAFE Basic Training Curriculum is to share SAFE’s approach and methodology to ensure equal access to its trainings, addressing identity-based risks, and challenging harmful norms and stereotypes. It provides guidance at all stages of the training process: 1) design and outreach; 2) delivery; and 3) monitoring, evaluation, and learning. The annex can be used together with the SAFE Basic Training Curriculum, but it can also be a resource and inspiration for media practitioners, social communicators, civil society organizations, and non-governmental organizations, as well as others around the world working on journalist safety issues. It promotes journalist safety programs that are designed based on awareness and analysis of culturally defined economic, social, and political roles, responsibilities, rights, entitlements, obligations, and power relations associated with a person’s identity, for example gender, age, or ethnicity.

JOSEF TRAPPEL and TALES TOMAZ (Eds.) - Nordic Information Centre for Media and Communication Research (NORDICOM), Nordic Council of Ministers

The Media for Democracy Monitor 2021 is a longitudinal comparative project that includes gender as one key indicator. It shows that "journalistic job security has eroded over time, and gender gaps both in content and employment patterns remain strikingly excessive in most countries". Based on a root concept of democracy and several empirical indicators, the Media for Democracy Monitor (MDM) delivers a panorama of the news media’s performance regarding freedom, equality, and control across several countries. In 2011, the MDM analysed 10 democracies. Ten years later, it covers 18 countries worldwide and pinpoints essential strengths and weaknesses during this decade of digitalisation. Around the globe, news are highly attractive to users, and the journalistic ethos of watchdogs and investigators is paramount. On the downside, journalistic job security eroded over time, and gender gaps both in content and employment patterns remain strikingly excessive in most countries. Volume one contains countries present in the 2011 MDM edition, allowing for longitudinal comparative analysis: Australia, Austria, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Although digital technologies have created new opportunities for women journalists and activists to communicate and organise, they have also reproduced patterns of harassment and abuse that women journalists face throughout their journalistic or public interest activities, in a wide range of digital forms.

The growth of online abuse and harassment, which has become both more prevalent but also more coordinated, is intended to threaten, silence and stigmatise women journalists, with the potential to lock them out of public spaces.

Tackling online abuse against women journalists is therefore essential to ensuring the full enjoyment of the right to free expression, and creating an environment where women can participate in online and offline spaces.

Yemen has long had a troubled record on press freedom and independent media, but this has changed in important ways since the 2011 revolution and throughout the current conflict.

Since the start of the current conflict in September 2014, attacks on media in Yemen have increased. While Yemen’s troubled record on media freedom precedes the conflict, important changes sparked by the 2011 revolution, subsequent political transitions, the Houthi’s 2014 ascension to power, and the Saudi-led coalition’s 2015 intervention were all followed by notable deteriorations in the media’s ability to operate safely in the country.

Prior to 2011, press freedom in Yemen was tightly controlled with the Saleh government threatening and intimidating journalists into silence and self-censorship. Then, even as it allowed for more press freedom, the new, Hadi-led government in 2012 continued to intimidate and attack journalists—a decentralised, more open climate for media after the revolution meant journalists were more prone to attack from a greater number of actors.

DUNJA MIJATOVIC - OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media

Democracy thrives when a plurality of voices are heard online. Yet, one particular group of voices has come under attack in the most disturbing and dangerous of ways. Female journalists and bloggers throughout the globe are being inundated with threats of murder, rape, physical violence and graphic imagery via email, com‐ menting sections and across all social media platforms.

International Women's Media Foundation

This report by the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) provides the first comprehensive picture of the dangers faced by many women working in news media around the world. It describes the types of violence and threats female journalists encounter and considers how these incidents affect their ability to conduct their work. We also identify trends among reported incidents, with the hope of improving the ways in which the safety concerns of women journalists are addressed.

International Media Support

The study, “The safety of women journalists: Breaking the cycle of silence and violence” shows that women journalists in nine countries across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America share similar challenges in the workplace ranging from gender-based unequal opportunities such as low pay and longer working hours, to severe physical abuse and online harassment.

WAN-IFRA Women in News and University of London

WAN-IFRA Women in News and City, University of London conducted a major research study into sexual harassment in the media workplace in select countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the Arab Region and Southeast Asia. This study builds on research done in 2018 which identified a gap in available data on sexual harassment in media specifically in these regions.


The full report is available here.

"Many of the journalists interviewed for this study expressed exasperation and a sense of abandonment by their employers when they were in the midst of an online violence storm, even when there were credible threats of offline violence associated with these attacks. This was linked to gender-unaware policies, or those that had stagnated as a result of a failure to take account of increasing online toxicity and hostility towards journalists - especially on social media platforms - in the context of escalating disinformation, along with political polarisation and populism."


The full report is available here.

"For many women journalists around the world, Facebook (along with the company’s other assets WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram, which are now grouped under the new brand Meta), Twitter, YouTube and other services are essential tools for newsgathering, content distribution and audience engagement. But the necessity to work in these spaces has resulted in a double bind: women journalists are heavily reliant on the very same services which are most likely to expose them to online violence."


The full report is available here.

The research highlighted in this report aims to:

  • Explore how feminist practices have been and are currently being carried out, and how they can be applied to improve all women journalists' safety aroun the world.

  • Bridge international legal and policy frameworks on the safety of journalists worldwide with practical approaches currently being adopted.

  • Catalyse a conversation about how the media development can move towards feminist approaches to the safety of journalists.

"Current policies and practices – even those deemed ‘gender-sensitive’ – are failing to protect women journalists from these risks. A bulletproof vest may be useful in some contexts, but it will not protect a woman from sexual harassment in her newsroom, abuse when she shares her stories online, or assault on public transport when she travels to an assignment."


This is an extracted chapter from a wider UNESCO-commissioned global study on online violence against women journalists produced by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ). The full-length study will be published in 2022. This chapter seeks to identify the role of news organisations in preventing online violence against women journalists and providing due protection when these attacks do occur. It also provides 26 action-oriented recommendations to help the news industry respond more effectively to the crisis.


Female-identifying journalists often encounter obstacles, whether they’re out reporting or when they’re back in their newsrooms. GIJN has gathered resources for female-identifying journalists who want to connect, handle harassment, and address discrimination issues. We also provide advice and tips from great women investigative journalists that may serve as inspiration. This guide was originally published in 2019, and has been updated with new additions in March 2022.


From national organisations to grassroots networks, this report documents women’s monumental efforts to make structural changes, tackle entrenched patterns of gender-based discrimination and violence, and enhance the safety of women journalists. The initiatives showcased here are a testament to the creativity and resilience of those working on the feminist frontlines.

Maria Ressa: Fighting an Onslaught of Online Violence (2021)


The full report is available here.

"This groundbreaking collaborative case study is the most comprehensive assessment of online violence against a prominent woman journalist to date. We conducted a forensic analysis of the torrent of social media attacks on internationally celebrated digital media pioneer Maria Ressa over a five-year period (2016-2021). Here, we detail the intensity and ferocity of this abuse, and demonstrate how it is designed not only to vilify a journalism icon, but to discredit journalism itself, and shatter public trust in facts."


Across the globe, media industries suffer from a significant gender pay gap and gender-based discrimination and harassment. Women are underrepresented in media professions in some contexts, a challenge particularly evident at the decision-making level. This is aggravated by inequalities - in newsrooms and society - that are increasingly mirrored in media content wherein women and men are often framed in stereotypical ways. In addition, gender-based inequalities often intersect with other forms of discrimination.

This briefing note is designed to give readers a basic understanding of the role of media regulatory and self- regulatory systems in promoting gender equality and inclusion. The note is aimed at media practitioners who do not necessarily have a deep understanding of the field of gender in media development; it also aims to be of interest to and relevance for women’s rights organisations, other civil society organisations, and those who want to push for gender equality and inclusion in and through the media.

Center for Women's Global Leadership, Journalism Initiative on Gender-Based Violence

The guide, as divided by its chapters, is available here.

"There are many guidelines for journalists reporting on gender-based violence, but the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) at Rutgers University (U. S.) saw the need to bring together a wide range of resources and perspectives in one place, to help veteran journalists, media and communications workers, and journalists just starting out."


The full report is available here.

"There is nothing virtual about online violence. It has become the new frontline in journalism safety - and women journalists sit at the epicentre of risk. Networked misogyny and gaslighting intersect with racism, religious bigotry, homophobia and other forms of discrimination to threaten women journalists - severely and disproportionately."

"The research underpinning this paper consists of: a global survey of 901 journalists from 125 countries conducted in five languages; long-form interviews with 173 international journalists, editors, and experts in the fields of freedom of expression, human rights law, and digital safety; two big data case studies assessing over 2.5 million posts on Facebook and Twitter directed at two prominent women journalists (Maria Ressa in the Philippines and Carole Cadwalladr in the UK) undertaken to validate the self-reporting of our interviewees and survey respondents with objective data; 15 detailed country case studies; and a literature review covering hundreds of scholarly and civil society research publications. A team of 24 international researchers from 16 countries contributed to the study."


The global gender equality and media regulation study was motivated by a need to understand approaches and experiences in media law and policy, and to derive lessons for securing women’s right to freedom of expression in and through the media. The findings point to recommendations for media regulatory and self-regulatory bodies, for media organisations, and more broadly, for media development agencies, civil society and researchers. A pathway to bolster regulatory frameworks is proposed.

Parallel to the global study, case studies were developed in a sample of countries in which Fojo Media Institute is active, namely, Armenia, Bangladesh, Rwanda, Somalia, Sweden and Zimbabwe.

The full report is available here.


The international study documenting the extent of sexual harassment in newsrooms has been released today by WAN-IFRA Women in News in partnership with City, University of London. The study is the largest of its kind to focus on men, women and gender non-conforming media professionals in 20 countries throughout Africa, Southeast Asia, Eurasia (Russia), the Arab Region and select countries in Central America. The study, which was carried out from November 2020 to September 2021, surveyed more than 2,000 individuals and included interviews with 85 senior executives.

The results are available here.


The English version of the report is available here. The Portuguese version is available here. The Spanish version is available here.

"This report by the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji) – supported by UNESCO’s Global Media Defense Fund – provides an overview of violence against women journalists and gender-based attacks on communicators in Brazil in 2021."

Recommendations include actively working against the normalization of violence, as well as demanding that digital platforms make more investments in content moderation and training in gender equality in human rights, among others.


The English version of the AdvoSheet is available here. The Spanish version is available here, and the French version is available here.

"ARTICLE 19 and IFEX launched the first in a series of #JournoSafe AdvoSheets, comprehensive but easy-to-use advocacy tools for media freedom and safety of journalists advocates.

To mark International Women’s Day, the first AdvoSheet focuses on the protection of women journalists, setting out what States must do to protect journalists, their obligations under international human rights law, and their commitments."

Media Diversity Institute- VERICA RUPAR, CHAO ZHANG

The Handbook is available in English here.

"Media Diversity Institute developed an Inclusive Journalism Handbook aimed at academics, journalism students and journalists providing them with the main principles of diversity and inclusion, responsible reporting in the age of increasing inequalities and divisions."

Forum Media and Development (FOME)- VIVIANE SCHONBACHLER

The full report is available here.

"A brief evaluation of seven books on media development and media for development shows that only 2% of pages are devoted to gender and feminist issues and that ‘gender’ and ‘women’ are often framed in narrow, binary ways. It is the field of Gender Media Studies and development communication that contributes most significantly to the literature on gender in media development."

Center for International Media Assistance Workshop September 2021: A Holistic Approach to Gender Equality in Media Development


On September 16 2021, the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) convened a group of media development donors, implementers, practitioners, and researchers to discuss holistic approaches to gender equality in media development through multi-stakeholder collaboration, gender-sensitive policymaking, and feminist international assistance. The knowledge shared at this meeting will be used to foster additional conversations and research on the topic of gender equality in the media. A list of additional resources shared by participants and key takeaways from the meeting can be found below:

Multi-Stakeholder Movements for Gendered Media Reform

Sarah Macharia, Global Coordinator for the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP), discussed the importance of building multi-stakeholder movements for gender equality in the media. In its latest report, the GMMP found that it will take at least another 67 years to close the gender equality gap in traditional news media. Although a significant equality gap still exists, the process of data collection for the GMMP index is creating a cross-border, multi-stakeholder movement for transformative gender equality. This collaboration creates opportunities for media to benefit from the knowledge, skills, and tools developed by civil society and academia. Additionally, when media and movements work together to identify and eliminate harmful gender stereotypes in content, it creates an enabling environment for sustainable interventions free from repressive gender norms that are the underbelly of inequality. Achievements on the front of gender equality in the media are also gains for women’s rights groups. To foster this level of collaboration, donors must use their normative power more effectively to improve gender equality bu puting more funding towards movement building and targeting broader institutional goals like policy.

To learn more, read Sarah Macharia’s abstract here.

Gender Sensitive Policymaking in the Media Sector

Claudia Padovani, Associate Professor at the University of Padova, discussed the importance of leveraging the normative power of institutions for gender equality by integrating gender sensitive policymaking in the media sector into broader development and governance agendas, and even COVID- 19 recovery agendas. Not only should we be concerned with how gender issues can be integrated into media policy, but also the extent to which media and communication are included in the strategies that pertain to gender equality more broadly. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a select group of countries developed national recovery plans that present themselves as feminist. None of these policies, however, address the multitude of issues discussed in decades of research on gender equality in the media such as structural constraints to women in the news media, access to the news media, access to decision- making positions, and women’s role in the design of media and the policies themselves. This disconnect between media development research and policymaking results in ineffective legislation contributing to the lack of gender equality in the media. To close this gap, feminist scholars and advocates must engage in policy advocacy and policy development to bring forces, resources and knowledges together towards a gender equal media.

To learn more, read Claudia Padovani’s abstract here.

International Assistance Efforts and Feminist Foreign Policies

Sheila Rao, Associate Professor at Concordia University, discussed the role of feminist international assistance policies to set norms and standards for gender equality as part of official aid agendas. Since 2014 many countries have adopted different forms of feminist foreign policies addressing gender equality, but media development goals and implementation plans in these policies remain underdeveloped. Instead, the investments in media are mentioned under broader categories such as government engagement and conflict resolution. These feminist foreign assistance policies have the potential to set new standards for gender equality as an essential component of a country’s development roadmap, but gender equality in media cannot be separated from broader ODA priorities. The media development sector is well-positioned to move beyond the ‘add women and stir’ approach to media and towards establishing an enabling environment for gender transformative change, but this requires donors to pursue more systemic change as they seek to promote gender equal media systems. Feminist funding principles can better support gender equal media development through prioritizing gender relations beyond just the empowerment of women and girls, investing in approaches to media development that include a decolonial and rights- based process, and establishing an intersectional lens to view, respond and alleviate challenges related to gender equality and media development.

To learn more, read Sheila Rao’s abstract here.

Additional Research

Fojo Media Institute is undergoing research to explore how gender equality in the media is integrated into gender law and policy in five countries: Armenia, Bangladesh, Somalia, Sweden, Zimbabwe. The goal of this joint project with the University of Gothenburg is to help to foster norms and values that enable media institutions to act as transformative agents. Based on these national studies and additional desk research, a global study will be produced at the end of this year with best practices and recommendations.

Additionally, Article19 is conducting a research project titled Equally Safe: Exploring a Feminist Approach to the Safety of Journalists. Researchers are exploring the following questions: What would a feminist approach to the safety of journalists be comprised of in theory and practice? What potential does a feminist approach have in addressing unequal power relations in systematic discrimination of women journalists? How can journalist safety strategies ensure an intersectional approach? How can a feminist approach strengthen standard-setting mechanisms, legislation, policies, development, media and civil society strategies? What are the current feminist experiences, initiatives and policies from which we can learn today?

Additional resources shared by participants


"This report presents a snapshot of the first substantial findings from a global survey about online violence against women journalists conducted by UNESCO and the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) in late 2020. Over 900 validated participants from 125 countries completed the survey in Arabic, English, French, Portuguese and Spanish. The findings shared here reflect the input of the 714 respondents identifying as women."


"There is a new front line in journalism safety – it is where female journalists sit at the epicentre of risk. The digital, psychological and physical safety threats confronting women in journalism are overlapping, converging and inseparable. Where and when they intersect, they can be terrifying - they are also potentially deadly."

Fighting Back Against Prolific Online Harassment: Maria Ressa (2018)


The full report is available here.

"Maria Ressa is a former CNN war correspondent but none of her experiences in the field prepared her for the massive and destructive campaign of gendered online harassment that’s been directed at her since 2016. “I’ve been called ugly, a dog, a snake, threatened with rape and murder,” she says. How many times has she received online death threats? She’s lost count. 'Gosh, there have been so many!'"

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