Media should focus on women’s political empowerment: experts

September 11th, 2008 - 5:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Mani Shankar AiyarNew Delhi, Sep 11 (IANS) Debating the role of the media in enhancing women’s participation in political processes at a seminar here Thursday, politicians, academics and activists were nearly unanimous in slamming newspapers and broadcasters for ignoring gender issues.”The time is here when the women at the grassroots level of our society have stepped out of their kitchens and have come out and are now governing village panchayats. Yet the Indian media, be it press or the broadcasters, choose to highlight the murder of a 14-year-old girl rather than to report about this revolutionary change which is sweeping the country,” Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar said.

He was addressing the seminar on the Role of Media in Mainstreaming and Enhancing Women’s Political Participation.

Organised by the Draupadi Trust, an NGO working for creating awareness for the women of every section of society, the seminar was held at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication and saw a range of speakers from political parties, academia, legal and civil society.

They included Jaya Jaitley, former Samata Party president and social activist, B.B. Bhattacharya, vice-chancellor of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Girija Vyas, chairperson of the National Commission for Women.

Almost all speakers slammed the media’s approach to gender issues and said it was concerned only about power and money.

“For the media, only negative news is worth publishing. It undermines women by focusing on their skin colour, clothes and class. When has the media focused on the changes which women are bringing at the panchayati level?” said Jaitley.

Referring to the 33 percent reservation for women in panchayati raj institutions, Draupadi Trust chairperson Neera Mishra said “for a woman living in a remote village of some poverty-stricken state, this means nothing. But Draupadi is working towards educating these women to come forward and take an active part in the society-making process.”

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