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Media: The Medicine of Mindsets

By Chin Xian Ci, TASS-Russian News Agency

Published: 20 Mar 2019 - 12:13 AM

Pictorial representation of media

Pictorial representation of media

The United Nations Commission on the Status Of Women (UNCSW) has raised the concerning issue of the portrayal of women in media. The way media has portrayed women in the past has scarred their confidence in becoming successful, to achieve something greater. The media has to do something about this situation to prevent it from further affecting the women of the next generation. This would then cause the women to feel inferior when compared to men which would cause gender inequality. One of the main goals of this conference is to increase the political representation of women in politics.

Suggestions were made during the conference itself on what should be done. The council proposed for guidelines to be added regarding media portrayals. These guidelines will be optional so as to suit the country's stance, ensuring that it will not be counterproductive. Guidelines such as removing discrimination against women, discussing about their clothing instead of the main purpose, such as talking about the female politician's clothing instead of what she is proposing. Delegates suggested that paid paternity leave should be made applicable. Delegates suggested the media should not just showcase news of female figures taking paid maternity leave but also males taking paid paternity leave such that people will not only associate woman with family but males as well. Delegates mentioned tailoring movies and using advertisements to portray the capabilities of women through the success stories of certain accomplished, well respected women figures. Delegates also mentioned how less developed countries (LDC) can use printed advertisements to influence the mindsets of the people as they do not have the equipments and facilities that can display moving advertisements. The UNCSW believes that through this form of change, people will be able to change their mindsets. From there, women will also gain the courage to take up more responsibilities in society such as political positions.

In regards to this approach, the delegate of Pakistan raised a point as to the applicability of media portrayals to increase gender equality, as rural countries and LDC do not have civilisations for miles and thus would not come into contact with posters or advertisements pasted by the government. This delegate also mentioned how LDC do not have advanced technology and therefore would also have limited access to online media. The delegate of Argentina then rebutted the point with a point of inquiry stating, “In that case, wouldn't education be a more suitable solution for such countries?” The delegate of Denmark further elaborated on how this solution is not a one-size-fits-all, therefore, she urged that UNCSW not be so fixated on how certain solutions do not fit all countries. Therefore, countries should look into tailoring solutions to increasing political representation of women in politics to fit their country. This is true as media portrayal is not the only available solution to increasing political representation of women in politics proposed by UNCSW.

Towards the issue of media portrayals in helping with the increase of female politicians, the delegate of Russia expressed his agreement to the fact that media portrayals can help achieve an increase in political representation of women. The delegate of Russia recognises that media portrayals is a double edged sword. It can influence the mindsets of people positively and vice versa. Therefore, the delegate of Russia agrees to the majority stance that media portrayal is useful for increasing political representation of women. However, the delegate of Russia also stated his disapproval of the actions suggested as he sees no relevance of certain actions. For example, the delegate of Russia questioned how allowing paternity leave would allow women to gain confidence such that they would join political parties, he sees no connection between these two actions. Therefore, the delegate of Russia displayed his disagreement of putting these proposals into action.

Despite the discussions by the UNCSW, an agreement on what action to take has not been met due to the conflict in agreements, therefore there are possibilities of future changes to the actions proposed.