Women in the media: Targets of sexist attacks, it is necessary to talk more about their rights

How many women are represented in the media? How are they presented? What are the challenges they face, about these issues, independent journalist Una Hajdari, editor of RTV KIM Zorica Vorgucic and journalist Kosovo 2.0 Dafina Halili spoke about these issues, as a part of the discussion “Women in the Media”. The online discussion was organized as part of the Digital Trustbuilding Week.

In the media in Kosovo, including Serbs and Albanians, a large number of women are in leading positions – the participants in the discussion agree.

Speaking about the challenges that journalists face, Hajdari points out that they are expected to deal with the so-called “Easy topics”, that there is no “respect for journalists”, as well as that “it is not appropriate for a woman to deal with journalism in the way it is done in Kosovo and the Balkans.”

“It is worrying, in my opinion, how society views women in journalism, as well as women who have their own voice and talk about certain topics,” Hajdari points out.

Women in the media are perceived as “omnipotent”, Vorgucic believes. She adds that they deal with “all possible topics.” There is a problem with the staff in the media, not only in terms of gender – she says.

“Men and women suffer equally from journalism,” said Vorgucic.

Journalists are the target of mostly sexist attacks

Halili points out that journalists are the target of attacks every day.

She talked about cyber-attacks from online platforms, and that there is no “control or supervision of hate speech”:

“When we see different columns, opinions or news, especially those written by journalists, we immediately start making threats, especially sexual threats.”

Hajdari also spoke about the sexist attacks that journalists face:

“We women journalists are privileged, we have a voice, and we have someone to turn to get this to women who work in the municipality or who work as nurses who are less protected or afraid to report a case of sexual harassment.”

“Women today have a much stronger voice in public. The voice of women cannot be silenced as it could have been before,” Hajdari is convinced, emphasizing that this is exactly what launched the global campaign “Me too” against sexual abuse and harassment.

It is still more difficult for women to get to the position where decisions are made

Using the metaphor of a “glass ceiling” that is “just a little scratched”, Halili spoke about the participation of women in the highest decision-making positions in Kosovo.

Halili explains: “For the second time, we have a woman president, we have a number of deputies who won mandates without a quota, women make up 30 percent of the government cabinet. But if you look at the number of deputy ministers, it is less than five. If we look at these numbers, we can say that we are still far from collapsing that glass ceiling that is very difficult for women to overcome invisible barriers to get to a decision-making position.”

Representation of women and politicians from non-majority communities

Women are represented in the media depending on their engagement, according to the editor of RTV Kim, taking the example of the President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osman, who is presented as a “woman of authority”.

However, she states that she did not deal with women’s issues, but with high politics and accusations:

“I think she should definitely deal with women’s issues.”

Vorgucic also points out that there are no women in the media who do not deal with “tempting issues”:

“Women who live in the countryside are rarely talked about.”

Speaking about women politicians from the Serbian community, she says:

“They are not so visible although they are MPs and that they are in high positions in the system of the Republic of Serbia. They do not advertise, nor do they want to agree to give a statement. I don’t know what their role is in general, or how much they represent women from their communities and how much they fight for their rights.”

Women are not trusted enough, there is a lack of women’s topics in media

The challenges faced by women in the media are similar almost everywhere in the world, points out Hajdari, who was a correspondent for several secular media. However, she states one difference, i.e. characteristic for the region of the Western Balkans:

“Women can hold editorial positions, but the population does not trust women who deal with difficult topics or predictions of political events.”

“The moment society trusts women in the same way it trusts men, then there may be a change in this situation,” Hajdari said.

On the other hand, Halili believes that it is necessary to transfer the topics discussed in the so-called alternative media to the traditional, i.e. mainstream media.

“The real debate for journalists, women in politics, the portrayal of women in the media will happen when we have seriousness and engagement by desks in the mainstream media, when we see gender equality in political debates when violence, femicide becomes headline and remains crucial for the next two weeks through various discussions where activists, panelists or various members of society gather,” she stressed.

“Until the traditional media start to take women’s rights more seriously, we will not talk about very serious efforts that will become a national topic, more than they are at the moment,” concludes Halili.

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