Media as an Ally in Peacebuilding, Women’s Rights and Gender Equality
May 3, 2021
By Wevyn Muganda, GNWP’s Cora Weiss Peacebuilding Fellow and Michaela Zelenanska, GNWP’s Peacebuilding Program Intern for Eastern Europe and South Caucasus
The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) celebrates World Press Freedom Day by highlighting the importance of independent media in building peaceful, gender-equal, and inclusive societies. Journalists play a key role in spreading information about the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda and in highlighting women’s roles as leaders, peacebuilders, and decision-makers. GNWP’s “Full-cycle Implementation” of WPS strategy incorporates the critical work of the media, taking a multidimensional approach across three main areas:
- Training of journalists and other media practitioners, to increase their understanding of their role in promoting the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and the supporting WPS resolutions and encourage them to portray women in their diverse roles including as leaders, peacebuilders, and decision-makers;
- Development of Media and WPS strategies to guide stronger and more systematic collaboration between the media, women peacebuilders and national and local government actors; and
- Media and WPS (#MediaFor1325) competitions, to create incentives and recognize the gender-responsive coverage of issues related to peace and security.
The #MediaFor1325 competitions provide an incentive for journalists to integrate a gender lens into their reporting on peace and conflict issues, and raise awareness of the WPS agenda. As a result, they contribute to shifting the perception of women as passive victims to recognizing women as agents of peace. Since 2018, the GNWP in partnership with the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) held six media competitions in Colombia, Georgia, Moldova, Kenya, the Philippines, and Ukraine.
This year, we commemorate World Press Freedom Day with a throwback to some of the winning materials.
The work of women peacebuilders in Colombia has been indispensable to reaching and signing the peace agreement between the government and Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), and remains critical in monitoring its implementation. It is important that the invaluable contribution of women peacebuilders in Colombia is recognized and made visible to change the public narrative on women’s role in peace processes and in leadership. GNWP, in partnership with Red Nacional de Mujeres (RNM) and with support from Norad, trained journalists on the WPS agenda and the role the media plays to promote effective implementation. The training was followed by a national #MediaFor1325 competition organized in August 2020, in partnership with Pacifista – a media collective dedicated to promoting journalism rooted in peace and human rights principles. The competition had two categories: professional journalists and journalism students. Additionally, a special prize was awarded for work that provided an original angle on women’s leadership in peacebuilding. The winning podcast, by Lidha Beltrán Valero, highlights women’s experiences in challenging patriarchy, preventing violence and sustaining peace in local communities. Jeimmy Lorena Gutiérrez Turmequé, with her piece about Indigenous leaders from Xuacha, was awarded the students category and the special prize.
With support from ADA, GNWP and its Georgian partner, Women’s Information Center (WIC), organized an online training series for journalists. The training aimed to increase the awareness of Georgian journalists on their roles in supporting gender equality, women’s meaningful participation in the implementation of Georgia’s National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325, and in promoting gender- and conflict-sensitive responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The journalists expressed appreciation for the knowledge and skills they acquired and committed to being more gender-sensitive in conflict reporting in order to influence the public narrative on women’s roles in peace processes. The training was accompanied by a national #MediaFor1325 competition. The winning article by Nino Chibchiuri discusses the lives of women on the occupation line and how the pandemics negatively affected them. Other awarded articles feature women entrepreneurs and the struggles of peace activists in Abkhazia. “During the pandemic, rural women showed solidarity with each other and helped others as much as they could,” Chibchiuri stressed.
“Rural women during the pandemic showed solidarity with each other and helped others as much as they could.” -Nino Chibchiuri, 2020 winning journalist in Georgia
In Ukraine, GNWP and Democracy Development Center have conducted a series of training with journalists since 2017. These trainings have been instrumental in raising the journalists’ awareness of their important role in shaping public opinions on women’s leadership in peace processes. It has also become pivotal in integrating the media in the implementation of the WPS agenda. The 2020 media competition was organized in partnership with Ukraine’s State Radio and Television Broadcasting Commission. Dmytro Semenyuk’s winning entry focuses on breaking stereotypes and highlighting the active role women play in patrol policing to prevent violence. “Women have become indispensable in resolving conflicts,” Semenyuk expressed. Olga Chernykova, the author of another winning article describes an inspiring life story of a woman journalist who had to flee her home city due to the violent conflict.
These powerful stories show that women around the world share similar struggles and continue to work for the advancement of women’s rights, peace, and justice in their communities. On this World Press Freedom Day, GNWP commits to continue to work with journalists in amplifying the voices of women peacebuilders across the world!