A GENDER FOCUS IN JOURNALISM IS URGENTLY NEEDED

New journalism is needed to change the distorted image of women and stereotypes
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“When gender sounds, it brings change,” said Costa Rican feminist lawyer Alda Facio Montejo, when she developed a methodological study for gender analysis in the legal field, two decades ago. This premise has recently become an extremely topical issue in Chile, as a result of the constitutional discussion on incorporating a gender perspective in the judiciary, although it was also timely for understanding these changes in other areas that seem equally urgent, such as communications and journalism.
Almost parallel to Alda Facio’s study, at the IV Meeting on Interdisciplinary Gender Research and Study of Chilean Universities in April 1996, the need to generate and promote adequate social changes for the full development of people, regardless of their sex or gender, was discussed. The purpose was to overcome stereotypes and reticence based on inequalities and to advance towards respect for differences, especially regarding the treatment of information.

DISTORTED FEMALE IMMAGE

In the last 30 years, research in communications has shown that the image of women projected by the media “continues to be distorted” and reinforces the reductionist and denialist appreciation of the roles that women play today, thus deepening the misunderstanding and inequalities, as was noted at the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in September 1995, whose final declaration is still in force today.
“Since then, governments, civil society and other stakeholders have worked to eliminate discrimination against women and girls and to achieve equality in all spheres of life, in public and private spaces” and all these efforts of women to be acknowledged, not only in the press, but also in the public sphere, have so far been advances and setbacks.
The majority presence of women as ministers in the new Chilean Government of President Gabriel Boric, heralds a different scenario and could well change things, because “when gender sounds, it brings change.” But how accurate is it to say that we are facing a real and decisive change for the future generations of Chilean women?
Here, the role of the media will be decisive. Addressing the events of women in power, in “high prestige” ministries, with equal conditions in the informative treatment, with the use of a language stripped of patriarchal limitations and sexist stereotypes, not only implies incorporating a gender approach, but also attending to the ethical principles of journalism.

Margarita Pastene Valladares
DIRECTOR
National Association of Women Journalists of Chile

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