Empowering women is crucial to achieving a better future for all, said Amartya Sen, 1998; Nobel laureate in Economic Sciences
In this second blog about initiatives for Women in Media and Technology, we highlight five additional programs in place for supporting and encouraging women’s career development and leadership within the whole industry.
The Alliance for Women in Media is an organization by, for and about women aiming to support, inspire and strengthen women across the entire media industry.
The organization was founded in 1951 as the American Women in Radio and Television (AWRT) following the National Association of Broadcasters‘ decision to dissolve their women’s division. Edythe Meserand, a radio news executive back in the 1930s, was one of the founders and first AWRT president. Their mission was to promote the ideas that value womens’ positions and to encourage better cooperation between women in radio and television. Another objective was the monitoring of women’s employment in broadcasting.
In 1960, it became the first broadcasting organization behind the Educational Foundation, a non-profit organization that sponsored scholarships for female broadcasting students, as well as charitable and educational programs with the mission to “use the media to create change through charitable, educational and literary initiatives”.
In 1975 they also established the Annual Gracie Allen Awards, or the “Gracies”, named after Gracie Allen, radio and television star and role model for many women. This is an award that recognizes womens’ accomplishments and contributions to the media and entertainment industry, from creatives and actors to those in technical positions like producers and directors. Click here to see this year’s winners.
In 2010 the AWRT renamed itself the Alliance for Women in Media.
Its areas of focus include industry events, educational programs, scholarships, and charitable activities.
ZAN TV, which means « woman » in the Dari language, is the first TV station for women in Kabul, Afghanistan. It’s run by women, even though the founder is a male entrepreneur named Hamid Samar. His mother spent years writing and advocating for Afghan women’s rights, inspiring Samar to shake things up by depicting the positive side of life in this country and by creating a channel by women for women.
The channel was launched in May 2017 and focuses on women’s issues via sport, health, news, political discussions and talk shows.
Behind the scenes there’s a group of male technicians that help the station run smoothly. More importantly, they train women in the technical field. Indeed, while some women had previous experience in media, many are learning how to run a TV station.
Despite all the risks and threats faced by these young Afghan women by choosing a career in media and being on TV, all are determined to empower Afghan women and want to encourage the next generation of journalists.
When Women Thrive is a research and consulting platform by Mercer, a global human resources consulting firm. Founded in 2014, it aims to improve the advancement of women in business through different areas — from wellbeing to career progression and financial wellness.
In March 2018, they decided to extend the platform to the media and entertainment industry. “By amplifying women’s voices – in front of the camera, behind the camera, and behind the scenes – we’re sending a powerful message about the changes needed to break the gender-parity impasse,” said Pam Jeffords, Partner at Mercer.
Mercer partnered with ReFrame for a day of discussions around women in front and behind the scenes, but also other themes such as the lack of women in the industry.
Ultimately, they help build a strong case for gender diversity in the media industry by increasing the representation of women at every level in film, television, and media, and supporting them when telling their story.
This was founded by Lilian van der Goot, the first Dutch Doctor of Economics and head of women’s programmes in radio, with six associates from other nations.
The project began in the 1930s first with informal discussions on the radio with women of various countries sharing tips and techniques. But the Association was officially created in October 1951 in Amsterdam. Initially it was called the International Association of Women in Radio, or IAWR. It was in 1957 that the word ‘television’ was added, forming IAWRT.
They define themselves as a network of electronic and broadcast media women, formed by an international board of professional and local chapters across the world.
The central principle of the association remains unchanged. The International Association of Women in Radio and Television allows women broadcasters to share techniques and knowledge through various programs and projects like conferences, workshops and training. The core aim is how to increase gender diversity in the industry, providing networking opportunities or screening media programs.
IAWRT/FOKUS scholarships also support women’s media studies, training or projects in developing countries.
Every two years a conference is organized by one of the local chapters, during which the Award of Excellence recognizing the creativity of women producers in radio and TV is announced. The 37th Biennial conference organized by the Philippines Chapter took place in 2017.
EU policies are also involved in changing the place of women in media. In fact, it is great to have a legal basis to reinforce the initiatives that we saw earlier to empower women and to change behaviors of the society.
“Across Europe, and across media types, women remain significantly under-represented in the media workforce, particularly at decision-making levels,” according to this study by the European Parliament for Gender Equality in the Media sector. Only 30% of women are in high level decision-making positions.
To help change this, the European Parliament created a complete program about women in the media industry. It includes a wide range of directives, resolutions, charters, conventions and strategies.
Since the European Gender Equality in Media policy agenda was developed, there has been notable progress toward equality; it brings change to sociocultural norms, attitudes, and practices.