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Gender Equality and the Media: A discussion with UNESCO, UN Women and Women 20

An event brought to you by the EBU International Broadcasting Assembly on 13 January 2022.


Simona Martorelli, Rai, Chair of the International Broadcasting Assembly

Our guests

  • Jamila Seftaoui, Director for Gender Equality in the Office of UNESCO’s Director General
  • Sharon Grobeisen, Media and Communications Specialist at UN Women
  • Linda Laura Sabbadini, Central Director of the Italian National Statistical Institut and chair of Women 20 in 2021

With about 100 participants this event met with great interest. Frans Jennekens, Diversity Manager at Dutch PSM NTR, moderated the discussion. The one-hour session was too short to cater for all the interesting contributions from participants. We also welcomed ABU members.

Summary of the discussions

The discussion showed that there are opportunities and the willingness to cooperate between UNESCO, UN Women and Women 20 and public service media on policies and hands-on initiatives.

Gender equality is one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the issue is high on the agenda of intergovernmental organizations.  It has been for a while; the UN Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action dates back to 1995 and it already included provisions on media. As part of a wider Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative gender equality is a strategic initiative of the EBU and its members.

The situation

There is no doubt that media, and public service media in particular, have an important role to play to improve gender equality. According to global research, the current situation is still far from being satisfactory. The Global Media Monitoring Project shows that management jobs in the entertainment sector are held by only 27% of women. It is interesting to note that in Europe, PSM have almost closed the gender managerial gap, with 44% of female managers across the EBU area.The Monitoring Project also found that only around 1 in 4 people heard or read about in news are women. The Geena Davis Institute discovered that only 23% of films feature a female protagonist,  and  21% of films are directed by women. It is obvious that films and their production are not reflecting our societies.

The pandemic has not helped, the situation has been getting worse in certain areas; gender-based violence, for example, has been increasing, more than 70% of women journalists have experienced online violence at work.

What media can do (examples)

Our guests proposed measures, addressing the situation both on-screen and off-screen:

  • Have more women in decision-making positions
  • Use experience from pandemic and develop ‘smart working’
  • Bring men into the center of gender equality – support ‘positive masculinities’
  • Combat gender stereotypes, which are sometimes created unconsciously by journalists
  • Tap into female excellence and give them a platform in programmes - give visibility to invisible women
  • Create gender inclusive media for and by youth, strengthen national institutions and civil society
  • Raise awareness in society including with role models, and tackle unconscious behaviour with education
  • Promote non-violent communication

Cooperation between intergovernmental organizations and PSM

Participants appreciated our guests’ offer for cooperation. Some examples were mentioned but more joint projects can be envisaged.

  • Continue the exchange of information, good practices and ideas
  • UNESCO can help to give visibility to expert women, they will invite EBU and members to become part of the UNESCO Gender Experts Facility
  • UNESCO can support the promotion of women artists and scientists: upon request they will give access to their data banks (see Creative Resilience initiative and L’Oréal For Women in Science Laureates)
  • EBU and members are invited to become members of the UN Women media compact which provides media with on-the-record or background briefings, interviews with UN Women’s top officials and much more
  • Promote the International Women’s Day on 8 March, this year’s theme is ‘Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’ (context climate crisis and disaster risk reduction)
  • Create a strong alliance of women across the organizations

The EBU will centralize information and keep members informed of any concrete projects. We will organize a follow-up session.

The EBU International Broadcasting Assembly brings together EBU Members, Associates and approved participants with international broadcasting activities in areas of TV, radio and/or online. It provides member broadcasters with a professional platform for exchange, encouraging dialogue between different cultures in Europe and other parts of the world.



  • Gender Equality and the Media - Sharon Grobeisen
  • Terms of reference - DEI Steering Group Members Only