Press Release – femLINKPACIFIC
Radio Australia reporter Heather Jarvis got a lead into the week ahead with interviews from Fekita Utoikamanu and Linda Petersen as well as Bredina Drollet, Secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Government of the Cook Islands, while Brigitte …18 October 2013, Rarotonga
Gender Equality in the Media – more than a public relations exercise
Radio Australia reporter Heather Jarvis got a lead into the week ahead with interviews from Fekita Utoikamanu and Linda Petersen as well as Bredina Drollet, Secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Government of the Cook Islands, while Brigitte Leduc the Gender Equality Adviser of the SPC was spotted explaining to CI News the importance of gender statistics! It was all part of a morning of making space for the media.
While FemLINKPACIFIC has been attending the Triennial Conference of Pacific Women since 2004, and generated stories and podcasts from the conference, this conference is extremely significant as it demonstrates the key role of women’s media networks in developing, and coordinating, producing and distributing content grounded in the gender equality agenda. This is the spirit of collaboration and putting “Section J in Practice” between FemLINKPACIFIC and the SPC which is supported by the PACMAS project.
Previously, women’s media has been on the outskirts of conference but today we enabled a space for the local media ahead of the official start of the 12th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women (Sunday, October 20) which enabled the Cook Islands Government and the SPC as well as media personnel both public and community media to meet and discuss the agenda of the conference and to better understand the issues behind the conference.
The media friendly space was obvious as before and after comprehensive presentations by the SPC and Cook Islands government young women reporters from Cook Islands News – Sahiban Kanwal and Norma Nagtamariki – of Cook Islands TV talked with ease to officials and later Cook Islands Minister of Internal Affairs and Finance who will be the chairperson of the regional high level conference and who took the opportunity to highlight progress relating to the adoption for Employment Relations Bill and the current review of the Cook Islands tax system.
Financing for gender equality through economic empowerment programmes clearly connected and certainly bound to be a key message from the Cook Islands government this week and it was brought home very simply by Taputukura Mariri the representative of the CI National Council of Women who highlighted that without infrastructure support women in rural and remote islands are unable to access markets for their traditional crafts – it is as simple as missing the boat!
Ultimately, as I responded to the question from CI TV, ”how can the media do better on reporting on gender equality beyond the conference?” it is more than simply media organisations having and implementing gender policies especially if there are no women to interview within the government machinery as elected or as senior officials how do they find the women?
Gender equality in media content is more than just about counting or quantifying the number of news items, radio programmes or television features produced by women or featuring women. It is also the qualitative or the content that matters.
The media should certainly ask and pursue the social, economic, cultural and political barriers to women’s participation in decision making and media organisations as well as government officials must give journalists or media producers the time and space to be able to also understand and reveal the barriers to gender equality – from within their community.
While women’s media and civil society media advocacy campaigns provide insights and information drawing on our values and goals, and pursued through our own activism, the public media (especially when supported by government funds) or when addressing government policy must be able to access information that portrays the reality of the status of women in Pacific society.
That clearly needs support of national women’s machineries or even the SPC Human Development Programme (responsible for gender, culture and education) and supported by a gender equality adviser and a gender officer still too under-resourced and quite often without their own information and communication officer and therefore unable to provide the support needed for the media.
This is not about government’s public relations running stories about women’s projects which but in fact is about government accountability to gender equality and women’s human rights.
Lisa Horiwapu reflects on her role as a correspondent and how the media consultation today helped her prepare:
It was a great privilege for me to be sitting among several government officials and media colleagues at the pre conference media consultation today.
The media consultation, is paving the way, according to our facilitator today, Sharon Bhagwan Rolls, to enable our coverage of the Triennial.
More background and insights via Bridgette Leduc of the SPC who outlined the Pacific Platform for Action – PPA and its 4 thematic areas – mechanisms to promote the advancement of women, women’s legal and human rights, women’s access to services and the economic empowerment of women.
Gender mainstreaming is the key for me as I listened to the presentations and overcoming the low level of women’s political participation not only in the region but also against the world.
Brendina Drollet of the Cook Islands Ministry of Internal Affairs explained the expectations of the meeting and once again I reflected about my role as a regional correspondent to communicate the key issues for our region and my country as well
Vanessa Heleta connects the themes of the 12th Triennial Conference to her everyday work with the Talitha Project in Tonga:
The 12th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women and 5th Pacific Women’s Ministerial Meeting theme ‘ Celebrating our Progress, Shaping our World’ is a special time for me personally to reflect on what I have been trying to achieve or looking back to the little journey that I have taken to work towards gender equality human development in Tonga.
A vision of the Talitha Project is encouraging and motivating young women to make their vision a reality. One of the visible examples that I can proudly share in connection with the triennial theme is the ‘Young Women Leadership Program’ funded by UNDEF.
20 young women all over the islands of Tonga are currently implementing their small scale projects in their communities. These small scale projects cover economic empowerment, climate change and environmental issues, health and reproductive rights, leadership etc – the Pacific Platform for Action core thematic areas. One example of these young women’s small project is a 20 year old young woman from Nukunuku Village who installed 18 rubbish bins on the main road in front of shops, churches and houses. ‘I wanted to put rubbish bins in my village so that the people can put their rubbish in. Seeing the people littering on the streets makes me angry so that’s when I develop a’ Nukunuku Free Littering Project’. These young women demonstrate their leadership potential and it guaranteed that you don’t have to be in parliament to make a difference.