Vietnam’s media shows strong gender equity on a number of levels, including meaningful representation and strong role models in all areas of work and management by both genders. Although not uniform across all institutions, in general on this front the country is well ahead of many others in the region, a research of Fojo Media Institute shows.
Research on Gender Equality in Media – Vietnam conducted by Fojo Media Institute and Media Development and Initiatives Centre in September 2017 shows that, while the greater proportion of females compared to males points to a level of ‘feminisation’ within the media , many policies and operations in the industry have not responded to issues faced by women journalists.
The research also reveals that sexual harassment was a significant concern for many women with over 27% of 247 surveyed journalists saying they had been harassed, although the number may well be higher. Perpetrators include in many cases journalist sources, as well as workplace colleagues and superiors. There was a wide variation in the understanding of what constituted sexual harassment, and few consistent policies (or industry advocacy) against it.
“Sexual harassment is a globally critical issue. This is not the problem of a single country. We need to look at it as a common issue that needs joint effort in dealing and improving by providing systematic safety and security training for women”, Fojo’s gender advisor Agneta Söderberg Jacobson says.
Funded by the Swedish government, through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Fojo’s Southeast Asian Journalism Training Network (SEAMTN) Network Project aims to develop the capacity of regional media training centers in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam. The survey was conducted to provide background information on the training of journalists and to further develop the training plans of our partners, the Vietnamese Journalists Training Centre and the Online Archive and Press Assistance Centre, part of the Ministry of Information.
“Gender equality has a long way to go. There will be more work to be done to ensure an equal society in both daily life and in the workplace for both men and women in every country. Building an equal and free press environment is one of core values and goals Fojo is working on,” said Fojo’s SEA Regional Manager Jaldeep Katwala.
The report comes at a critical time in Vietnam. The country has just seen the start of a fledgling “Me Too” campaign following the alleged rape and attempted suicide of a young intern at one of Vietnam’s leading newspapers.
The launch of the report was jointly staged by the Academy of Journalism and Communication, the Center for Media Development Initiatives and Fojo. A panel discussion on issues surrounding gender equity followed with contributions from working journalists and the International Labour Organisation.
Tran le Thuy, the Director of MDI said the report showed that “harassment both against female and male journalists is a major constraint to work quality and mental health of a number of journalists”. She called for more training for journalists on what is sexual harassment and an end to victim blaming within the media community and in media coverage.
Fojo hopes the report will add to a critical debate in Vietnam on the role of women in media and how to strive towards gender equity.