Friday, March 14, 2014

On being visible … (UN 58th Commission on the Status of Women)
You can see us, the women of the GUFs (Global Unions Federations), by the big red badge that reads: “Women Unions Power”.  It is a good way to recognise each other in the huge, constant stream of humanity that pass each other in the hallways of the UN, and on the streets around it. The badge has the added advantage of making our agenda clear and visible.

What is not so clear is where do Trade Unions fit in the UN Agenda?

Certainly there is no reference to Trade Unions in the important papers (such as the Agreed Conclusions), and many of the most important sessions are closed to us, or are by pre-arranged invitation only. We are considered the same as any other NGO, whether a small organisation with a handful of members, or like us – collectively representing 70 million women worldwide.

So, the GUF sisters lobby like crazy to get some of our own language and points into those all important (Draft)  Agreed Conclusions. They hold briefings, organise and run parallel events to make us visible in this process.

Many of us are acutely aware of the dangerous consequences of not being visible, of what happens when issues are under reported or ignored by journalists or (more often) editors and producers. Indeed, this was one of the key messages at the UNESCO and International Women's Media Foundation meeting: “Access to Information and Communications Technologies and a Free and Independent Media (Effective Means to contribute to Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls)” - “Information is Protection

Panellists spoke of how media needed to reflect society, and that access to a free and independent media was a key core of sustainable development, and therefore should be supported by governments. They spoke of the new technologies allowing women to access information in a revolutionary way,and gave an example of a radio station in Africa that makes it's broadcasts into podcasts, so that women can download them onto mobile phones and share.

There was a call for the UN to better support these fledgeling stations, and to encourage more young women journalists to make the programming, so that it better reflects their needs. They spoke of how Freedom of Expression was essential to empowerment and used the expression: “connect, invoke, transform.” All good, and all perspectives that could easily have been supported by IFJ Unions and the wider Trade Union movement.

UNESCO then spoke of the recent survey they funded with INSI on the Global Survey on the  Women Journalists, and referred to a hidden crisis of threats and abuse and the need for female journalists to work without fear of reprisals. All good, and extremely important to make visible. They were even honest about the fact that although 1000 women answered their global survey, it was only available in English, which certainly disenfranchised much of that globe.

But yet, but yet, here is where things got a bit muddled. They spoke of the need for governments to better protect female journalists, without referencing the fact that the majority of women who had responded to that survey said it was within the workplace where they had been most often abused, so the need was within labour laws. They ended by speaking about the UN Resolution to End Impunity of the murder of all journalists, not only women. A resolution that was the direct result of work of the IFJ, but that was not mentioned. And, as the session was closed without the opportunity to ask questions, it was also not possible to raise this issue, to make us visible.

Mindy Ran

co-Chair IFJ Gender Council

Friday, March 7, 2014


Inside the country the winds are not good for journalists. It is election year. Those who want to reach public office or those who exercise it already and aim to stay in office, appeal to all kinds of tricks to silence critical voices. The easiest and most effective way seems to be polarizing the journalists. In case there are two opposing groups, the citizens will be so involved in this struggle that little attention is paid to the revelations of corruption that could lead to those who seek to get the votes.

The second strategy is to wipe those who could monitor campaigns and efforts by using direct or indirect censorship through public or administrative pressures. Proof of this are cases like the program 'Aportes' led by Pepe Elias Juarez, on channel 41, Chiclayo that was taken out of the air. Requiring co-production of journalistic content as a condition for renewing the concession contracts is also a known script. Therefore, the program 'Enfoques' led by Glenda Pinedo Mello, was removed from the open television. The conditions imposed by TV Tarapoto were unacceptable.

Moral death is another weapon. The campaigns across the country to discredit critical journalists are shameful. It is the old way of hitting the messenger to leave no trace of the message. Lenin Quevedo Bardález has to resist all kinds of insinuations because of the simple fact of being critical to a candidate who has been credited with several signs of illegal behavior in a previous municipal administration.

The other method are the comprehensive and repeated inspections from the Ministry of Transport and Communications. They become abusive and have a strange smell. Are they pretending to charge Wari Radio Station in Huamanga?

Lilia Esther Valenzuela Zorrilla, Rosario Romani and the entire team - the most critical voice about the regional authority and other officials in the area – are not only harassed in court.

Today the mayor of Guamanga himself tries to make implausible the complaints made by that station by trying to discredit the station and to insinuate a link to violent groups. In Tumbes, people linked to the regional authority, have attacked for the third time journalist Ursula Pinedo, from the program 'Hoy por
Hoy' of radio Sorceress. What about the police investigation?. No positive results on the first two attacks. It would be rare if there will be a result on the third.

In Satipo, Huaylas and Pomabamba there are also complaints.

What should we do? Raise our voices. Accuse, accuse, accuse until we lose our voice. Require, require, require for investigation of aggression and harassment with the aim to identify the perpetrators.To encourage our colleagues within the country and many in Lima to fight their own battles within the newsrooms.

Encourage that courageous journalism not to lower the head at the possibility of prior censorship of their programs. Demonstrate that journalists can be united, that we do not fear the stick of those who seek to use us for their political games, that at this difficult time we are able to continue to comply with this work that gives reason for what we do: to monitor public affairs, reporting and encourage justice.

Only on this way the campaign will stop and we will get out alive. Morally alive realizing of having waged a fierce battle against those who want to come to power no matter what. Those who work in the provinces, you are not alone. We will use all tools we have. Our walls, our means, we will call our colleagues from this side of the border and from the other side. The goal is to add together all the voices we can find in defense of a free press. Free and responsible.

In Solidarity,

Zuliana LainezGeneral SecretaryNational Association of Journalists (PERU)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

IFJ Gender council, Dublin 2013

The IFJ Gender Council is now almost 40 members strong, and covers the globe like never before. This blog was created to celebrate that diversity, acknowledge our challenges and struggles, and to encourage and support the sharing of local voices and events. It is about what is important to us, the members of the Gender Council of the IFJ.