The local media’s reporting on issues of gender came under the microscope today, as the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC) formally launched an ethical code of practice for media practitioners here.
The move forms part of its campaign to Make Gender Equality a Reality, and comes in response to recent concerns over reporting on issues, such as gender-based violence. It also coincided with the observance of the 16 days of activism against gender violence, which ends on December 10.
Officer in charge at CPDC Rodney Grant said the media had a critical role to play in highlighting the problem.
“It’s really on all of us to ensure that how our women are treated and how our people are treated generally as a society is one of equality, one of fairness and one of decency. It cannot rest on any one agency, we’re just the agency that brought it to the table, but as a nation it’s really on all of us to ensure that this continues to bear some positive fruit,” Grant said during a news conference this morning at Baobab Towers.
Junior consultant with CPDC Karen Philip also said the Barbados Media Code of Ethical Practice on Gender was being proposed as a guide for the media in creating an equal and inclusive environment for all citizens.
“Inequality can be seen in the reporting of gender-based violence as it relates to adults and children, where the actions of females are subject to sexist language and comments from some commentators. There is very rarely an attempt to report the story from a balanced perspective of human rights.
“Inequality can also be seen in the disproportion of men compared to women who are sought out for professional commentary. Ethical practice can rectify these inequalities. The code seeks to provide a guide on how media institutions can work towards achieving gender justice,” Philip said.
In welcoming the move, head of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Dr Charmaine Crawford emphasized the need for fair, balanced and credible media coverage that challenges gender stereotypes.
She said the call for sensitivity on reporting issues dealing with gender-based violence, specifically violence in relation to sexual violence, came at a critical time for this island, as she pointed out that just two weeks ago Barbados and the wider Caribbean were confronted with the pervasive nature of sexual violence, sexual harassment and domestic violence through the hashtag #lifeinleggings, started by Ronelle King and Allyson Benn.
“In addition, through traditional media platforms we continue to watch, read and hear stories of lives disrupted by acts of physical and sexual violence committed by intimate partners and other loved ones. These stories are often accompanied by a visual descriptions which may intend to create a fuller picture of the event, but often result in the re-victimisation of victims, survivors and their families,” Crawford said.
The CPDC also introduced three media champions who have committed to working with the regional NGO to Make Gender Equality a Reality: Barbados TODAY’s CEO and Editor-in-Chief Kaymar Jordan; CBC croadcaster Teshia Hinds and President of the Caribbean Women’s Association Marilyn Rice-Bowen.