Montana Model United Nations 2001
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Commission on the Status of Women

TOPIC II

Women in Media

Women make up at least 52% of the world’s population. In most rural communities in Africa, they produce over 90% of the food, and process at least 65% of that. Yet the illiteracy rates among women in Africa and around the world are staggering. Over 60% of African women cannot read or write. Globally, only 9.7% of women hold high ranking government positions.

In the article, “How Much Ink do Women Get?” Carol Wheeler concluded that women were under-represented in the general media, but they were nearly non-existent in the business press. Pakistani flag post for media women Razia Bhatti said that women “must seek and speak for we are the voice of the voiceless millions.” In many nations, access to media for women is difficult for many reasons. Men control much of the world’s media, and men promote other men.

It is difficult for women in many nations to find support in any forms of media. In Russia, most articles and interviews of business or politician women usually stress that these women are devoid of feminine traits. An article in a Russian newspaper about a famous woman politician and member of Gorbachev’s Supreme Council, Galina Starovoitova portrayed her as being man-like, and not at all feminine. Other times the Russian media will attempt to portray successful careers of women as chance happenings, and they do not prevent them from being a “real woman.”

Ordinary working women are not fairly represented in the media across the world. In an analysis of newspapers in the first six months of 1995 conducted by the Association of Women-Journalists, only about 10% of all descriptions of women were anything about “normal” or “ordinary” working class women.

Pornography is also a form of media that does not necessisarily target women, but often portrays them in a negative or derogatory fashion. There is and will always be a demand for such types of media, but there should be other options to view women in the media, and in some nations, that is not always the case.

The lack of a media that targets the majority of women, by including articles and interviews about women like themselves is a major contributing factor of illiteracy rates in females across the globe. The need to connect with their reading material, and the lack of opportunity to do so, has turned many women off to reading magazines and newspapers, and in some cases, reading at all.

Oftentimes, access to publishing companies are limited to women, because it is, for the most part, dominated by men. Also, women in many nations lack the education and exposure to break into such a field. It is necessasary that women are encouraged, not discouraged when attempting to work in such male-dominated fields. Support of women in these fields will help in the encouragement of other women, and hopefully, the assimilation of women into the world of media.

Women are faced with the challenge of attempting to rise to the ranks of men who hold civic offices, and are powerful figures in government to gain as much media coverage as those who currently hold the offices. Seeing women on the front pages of newspapers would not only encourage women to read it, but to use media in day to day life. A deeper look into global mass media, and who is the attempted target of these vehicles is needed, and perhaps a re-evaluation of the portrayal of women could help this problem.

Helpful websites for information on this topic are the homepage of the Association of Woman-Journalists, and also the homepage of the International Media Women‘s Foundation. They both can be found by using a search engine.

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