“It’s a challenge to get trainees released for gender training. Both bosses and journalists want more practical courses,” said the Executive Director of a training centre in Vietnam. This comment came at a time when the #MeToo movement was still making headlines worldwide.
For the two British media trainers who came to Bangkok to train South East Asian trainers in gender – the topic was even more pertinent – reports about the gender pay gap in major UK companies and organisations, including the BBC were dominating the news.
The money argument was suggested as a way of getting media house owners and heads to take notice of gender equality in content. Ignore half of your potential audience at your peril.
For the rest of the fifteen participants from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, some had already delivered gender training and others were completely new to the topic.
Sovannara Chan from Cambodia said his father had wanted boys rather than girls because the groom’s family has to pay a dowry and the groom often has to live with his bride’s family. However, Sovannara conceded that gender inequality was particularly strong in the countryside where women worked in the fields but men were still head of the family and household.
Thach Mai Huong, Executive Director of the Online Archive and Press Assistance Centre in Vietnam didn’t consider her top job as a triumph for gender equality rather, she said, it was an indication that training is considered women’s work.
Two trainers from Myanmar said they had carried out two gender workshopslast year. Getting participants hadn’t been a problem because they usually carried out thematic trainings. Su Myat Wai and Aye Aye Zin said they were going to blend their previous experience with what they had learnt in this 5-day workshop and wanted to combine their new knowledge with more interactive and lively activities.
With women prominent in training and armed with new skills, knowledge and enthusiasm there is every reason to expect gender to take its place on the news and training agenda in South East Asia over the coming months.
Freelance Journalism and Media Trainer