Q&A on Women in Myanmar media
8 March is International Women’s Day and we are taking the opportunity to shine the spotlight on the challenges and opportunities faced by IMS-Fojo’s partners and colleagues within the Myanmar media sector. Here is what they had to say.
Q. What is the main challenge facing women in media in Myanmar?
Myanmar Journalism Institute: Women working in the media face the same issues as other working women in Myanmar in general. This is a predominantly patriarchal society and in media we lack women in publishers’ or editors’ positions. Men are considered to be more “appropriate” for management roles. There is also a of lack of childcare and resources allowing women to return to the workforce after child birth. In addition women are seen as “weaker” and editors are hesitant to send them out to conflict areas or any any assignments that are seen as dangerous. This also applies to working at night, or in remote areas, where “rule of law” and security is not considered strong enough so as to protect women journalists.
Myanmar Press Council: There is only one female member in MPC and especially in rural and ethic areas female journalists are humiliated and seen as bad characters, with parents therefore being reluctant to encourage women to work as a journalist.
Myanmar Women Journalist Society: Women journalists are not allowed to report on IDP camps and wars, for which there are difficulties to provide security and safety.
Q. How do you plan to address this challenge in your work?
Myanmar Journalism Institute: MJI is an equal rights employer. Of our five trainers, three are women. Where necessary the female trainers are provided with taxis or accompaniment after hours. MJI also has gender sensitivity training for all its staff members to make them aware of all the issues around gender stereotypes and to allow us to better adress these issues.
Myanmar Press Council: I want to encourage women journalists to seek a seat during the next election and I soon releasing a paper titled “Women and Myanmar media “ which will be discussed in an event organised by Myanmar Press Council. I will encourage women to work in professional journalism and advocate for more capacity building and trainings targeting women in media – but men in the industry also need to better understand gender issues and reduce the bullying of women in the work place.
Myanmar Women Journalist Society: If a journalist herself wants to cover a certain story, the editor should allow her to go.
Q. For next year’s 8 March celebrations, what do you hope to have achieved by then?
Myanmar Journalism Institute: MJI will have evaluated and implemented further gender training for staff and students. This will include gender workshops for all staff, gender Training of Teachers for the trainers, and Gender modules for the students. We aim to incorporate gender awareness across all of our training modules.
Myanmar Press Council: That men in media, due to awareness workshops, will have a better appreciation of the need to improve the gender balance amongst working journalists. Also, I hope to have more women in editorial and decision making roles in the media industry.
Myanmar Women Journalist Society: To have completed a report on the challenges facing women in Myanmar media.
Chris Peken is a training advisor with Myanmar Journalism Institute.
Daw Thin Thin Thar is the only woman in Myanmar Press Council. She also works as program producer at Cherry FM and as editor of Street View Weekly Journal.
Ma Khin Min Zaw is an executive member of Myanmar Women Journalists Society and a senior reporter with DVB.
IMS and Fojo Media Institute work to support Myanmar media partners in their efforts to develop independent and accountable media as a driver of positive social and political change. The participation of women on equal terms to that of their male counterparts in the Myanmar media environment is key to ensuring that they are able to engage in and contribute to the country’s ongoing democratic process.
For more information about IMS-Fojo’s work in Myanmar, read here