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Gender inequality remains in media sector: report

Sen David / Khmer Times Share:
A report urged the hiring of female editors. KT/Chor Sokunthea

A study analysing gender equality in media employment was published yesterday and found that gender equality is still an imperative issue, particularly in key management positions.

The study also highlighted challenges that Cambodian journalists face while covering stories in the field.

During the commemoration of World Press Freedom Day yesterday, the FOJO Media Institute published a study entitled Women and the Media in Cambodia: Toward Gender Equity, a study supported by Unesco and funded by the Swedish International Development Agency.

Data was gathered through a broad survey and multiple focus group discussions, as well as observing media operation conditions and the broader gender dynamics in the country.

Although women joined the industry in greater numbers in recent years, particularly through campus recruitment programmes, the study found that more men work in the media than women, especially in managerial positions.

It also showed that male journalists have greater access to training.

“Women are assumed to be more vulnerable, men therefore receive greater opportunities to travel,” the report stated. “Nevertheless, women covered the same beats as men, with the main exception being the male-dominated crime reporting.”

Women’s Affairs Minister Ing Kantha Phavi said that the government is urging media owners to increase the number of women they employ. She suggested that more women should hold key roles such as reporters and editors.

She said that Cambodian journalism needs a female touch, but also noted that not every story is suited for females.

“We have not yet seen a famous Cambodian female journalist, like what you see in other countries,” she said. “But I hope women can play a role in obtaining fame worldwide. I suggest also not to expose women and children to violence because it could affect her honour.”

Thach Phen, secretary of state with the Information Ministry, said that hundreds of media institutions in Cambodia provide equal opportunity and women are encouraged to take part.

“The government and the Information Ministry issued licenses for the creation of print, TV, radio and online media,” he said. “And the ministry always examines to make sure women are encouraged to work with the already plentiful media.”

The study also found that there are risk factors that influenced the way journalists cover stories.

Discussion groups consistently shed light on physical threats journalists face in the field, while numerous study participants confessed that they have experienced harassments and physical violence from authorities while covering demonstrations.

David Kaye, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, yesterday joined with other international rights experts to highlight growing threats independent media face.

In a joint declaration to mark World Press Freedom Day, they emphasized the essential role independent media plays in a democratic society and expressed grave concern about the physical assault on journalists, as well as the monitoring of media personnel, marginalisation of journalists and squeezing out of independent media outlets.

Mr Kaye said that free and independent media facilitate democratic institutions and government accountability, adding that attacks on journalists undermine the very idea of public participation.

“These attacks stem in part from increasingly irresponsible framing of journalists as enemies by political and business leaders,” Mr Kaye said. “And they are aimed at deterring investigative reporting done in the interest of the public.”

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