Gender equality conclave calls for greater female presence across professions

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 14: Even as hit movies across the globe in recent times are women-centric, the media largely remains devoid of inspirational female journalists, an American expert said today.

“Five out of seven of the highest-grossing films this year in the world are about women and made by women” Pat Mitchell, CEO of New York-based POW Strategies told a global meet on gender equality, at Kovalam, south of the Kerala capital.

All the same, “there is a dire need of inspirational women in the media”, the speaker noted in a session at the three-day International Conference on Gender Equality which concluded today.

The other panelists at the session on ‘Image of Women in The Media’ were journalist-researcher Pamela Philipose, psychologist-actress T Parvathi and filmmaker-writer Anjali Menon besides dancer-activist Mallika Sarabhai who was chairing the session.

Philipose, who is a Senior Fellow at Indian Council of Social Science Research, said journalists in urban India suffered from a skewed gender ratio with men outnumbering women by 4:1. This, she noted, was happening “mainly because media houses are unfriendly towards women”.

Also, cost-cutting is prompting media managements to cut down on the security being provided to women journalists, leading them to take risks for a good story. “Added to these, women have to deal with sexual predators and other gender-linked harassment at the workplace as well."

Parvathy noted that Indians largely associate sex with “woman, breasts or that what happens behind closed doors” when that word and gender does not mean the same. Her research on the subject unveiled a whole new world and she said the country must develop a “de-genderised” approach to socio-economic issues as much it should promote sex education.

Anjali Menon, who finds herself “surrounded by men in my industry”, spoke on how ‘commercial cinema’ portrayed men. “It is such biases that guide boys on the street on how to treat their women,” she said. “Whether behind or in front of the camera, we need more women in the (film) industry.”

Sarabhai sought more active training of women to become journalists, financers, directors and storytellers to bring about a change in the mindset that would outdo a women-repressive attitude prevalent today.


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