Women in media: Balance the imbalance!

In a joint statement, IMS and 44 other organisations urge media leaders and journalists to take action against the gender inequality in the news.

The statement is available in French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Ukranian and Urdu.


On International Women’s Day 2020, we want to call upon all media leaders and journalists around the globe to take action against the skewed balance and representation of gender in the news – both in terms of numbers and in portrayal.

A balanced presence of women and men in news and current affairs would to a higher degree reflect the composition of society and showcase a greater variety of human experiences, views and concerns. However, statistics show that media is far from balanced:

A majority of media content portrays women in stereotypical roles such as homemakers, models or victims.

Women are more likely than men to be referred to in terms of superficial attributes such as appearance, age, clothes and marital status. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to be portrayed as powerful public figures, with the media focusing on profession, skills and opinions. This perpetuates a limiting and unequal perception of gender.

Only 4% of all newspapers, radio and TV reports worldwide challenge gender stereotypes.

Only 24% of news subjects – the people who are interviewed, or whom the news is about – are female.

Women are used as experts only 19 % of the time.

In only 16 % of news that relates to politics and government, women are the subject of the stories.

The numbers are not only indicative of the media sector’s gender inequality challenges but is also a serious impediment to media development and democracy. A functioning democracy requires gender equality and the media need to do much better to contribute to this goal.

Media have the power and responsibility to challenge stereotypes in content production and together we need to set an example for current and future generations. That is why today we ask you, as part of a media organisation, to:

Engage in gender media monitoring to keep track of who is represented in your content and in what capacity

Create your database of women experts on various topics — or make use of existing ones

Revise your editorial guidelines to make sure that a gender perspective is included

Conduct a gender audit of your internal work to make sure that you have a diverse workforce and identify the gender gaps in your organisation — a diverse workforce is more likely to produce pluralistic content.


The undersigned organisations stand ready to support in such efforts:

Rural Media Network Pakistan (Pakistan)

Global Forum For Media Development (Belgium)

Gender Media Connect (GMC)  (Zimbabwe)

Press Free Unlimited (The Netherlands)

DW Akademie (Germany)

Pakistan Press Foundation (Pakistan)

Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (Bangladesh)

Global Alliance on Media and Gender (Canada)

Public Association «Dignity»  (Kazakhstan)

SembraMedia (Argentina)

Fojo Media Institute (Sweden)

Syria Female Journalist Network (Syria)

IDP Women Association “Consent” (Georgia)

Women Journalist Club (Russia)

CENOZO (Niger)

CN-RACOM (Niger)

Fondation Hirondelle (Switzerland)

Al Amal Association (Iraq)

Burj Babel for Media Development (Iraq)

Iraqiyat Magazine (Iraq)

Metro Centre for Journalists’ Rights and Advocacy (Iraq)

Naya Center for Media Training (Iraq)

Network of Iraqi Journalists for Investigative Journalism (Iraq)

National Union of Journalists in Iraq (Iraq)

ZHIN Magazine (Iraq)

International Media Support (Denmark)

Somali Media Association (Somalia)

Somali Women Journalists (Somalia)

Somali Independent Media Houses Association (Somalia)

Libyan Center for Freedom of Press (Libya)

National Union of Young Journalists in Morocco (Morocco)

Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (Syria)

Verify-Sy (Syria)

Danwatch (Denmark)

Vigilance (Tunisia)

Yakadha Association for Democracy and Civic State  (Tunisia)

Gambia Media Support (Gambia)

Danish Union of Journalists (Denmark)

Somaliland Journalists Association (Somaliland)

Human Rights Centre (Somalia)

Center for Civil Liberties (Ukraine)

IRADA (Pakistan)

Public Media Alliance (United Kingdom)

Institute for Regional Media and Information (Ukraine)

Somali Women in Media (Somalia)