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Email: / Phone: +31 (0)20 673 4774 / Mobile: +31 (0)6 520 66 499

Speaking out against discrimination

I’m somewhat ambivalent about International Women’s Day. Despite it’s indisputable worthiness, it makes me uncomfortable and I can’t quite embrace it without feeling slightly patronised and patronising.

On the other hand, I am all for highlighting the work of brilliant and brave journalists and the list sent out by Reporters Without Borders to mark this year’s International Women’s Day is well worth reading.

Training journalists in and from developing countries, I have heard many stories of gender discrimination, especially during the workshops on this theme I did in Nairobi and Zimbabwe with my colleague Jeroen Westerbeek. The general feeling is that the situation is getting worse rather than better.

And of course, discrimination of women joiurnalists is not restricted to developing countries. Take a look at this TedX talk (it’s from 2011 but is still valid) by Megan Kamerick, president of Women & Journalism Symposium.

Reporters without Borders quotes a worldwide study published by the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) last year.

“Nearly two thirds of the 977 women journalists questioned in the IWMF survey said they had been the victims of intimidation, threats or abuse in connection with their work.

“In a third of the cases, the person responsible was their boss. Nearly half had been subjected to sexual harassment and more than a fifth to physical violence. Despite the psychological impact of this abuse, most of the victims say nothing.”