This study examines women’s participation and representation in media. This study is based on the statistics of media units in Solapur city. Women constitute nearly 50% of population in every Indian city, but the participation of women in media is very low. Discussions of women’s representation in the media tend to revolve around the focus on physical beauty to the near-exclusion of other values. It is observed that media content about women issues is biased and gender discrimination is clearly visible .
This study also suggests the ways to increase the women participation in media and the ways to rational representation of women in media.
Women constitute nearly 50% of population in India. Our social system boasts that it has given mother goddess status to women since the ancient period. But in reality society builds psychological barriers around women. This male dominated society imposed so many bindings against women. Therefore role of women was confined only to the kitchen and kids for many years.
Social movement started by Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Mahatma Phule, Savitribai Phule, Maharshi Karve and other social activists opened doors for women’s education. Women have benefited greatly as education provided information to them about their rights and their equal status in the society. In spite of these efforts and the 65 year long journey since India’s independence , our nation is lagging behind in many basic things.
World Economic Forum conducted a study to measure gender gap. The Global Gender Gap Index examines the gap between men and women in four fundamental categories: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment. According to this Gender Gap Report-2011, India is included among the 20 countries, where the gender gap is widest. It holds 113th position among 134 countries in the world. This report explains that “India and Pakistan perform above average on the political empowerment of women, particularly India, but they lag behind in the other three categories.
In particular, the persistent health, education and economic participation gaps will be detrimental to India’s growth. India is the lowest ranked of the BRICK economies” (http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GenderGap_Report_2011.pdf)
After India’s independence Women’s role in society has undergone seismic changes, which has been reflected in every walk of life. Women stepped out of four walls and succeeded in each and every field. Now women are working as pilots, soldiers, doctors, engineers, lawyers, politicians and proving their mettle in all fields. But it is ground reality that basic structure of male dominated society and roles and presumptions about women’s worlds remain the same. Still the life of majority of women in India remains unchanged. . The women who got benefited through education and succeeded to grab a job have to destine to face male supremacy. Gender discrimination is visible at every moment. Decision- making positions are not accessible for women. Many times working women have to face humiliation.
Scenario in the field of media
Scenario in the field of media also does not differ from it. Media Still remains as men’s world and this is global phenomena. According to the research conducted by International Women’s Media Foundation( IWMF ) 73% of the top management jobs are occupied by men compared to 27% occupied by women,Among the rank of reports , men hold nearl y two thirds of the jobs, compared to 36% held by women. These findings were collected by more than 150 researchers who interviewed executives at more than 500 companies in 59 nations. (http://iwmf.org/pioneering-change/global-research-on-women-in-the-news-media/global-report-online-version.aspx) According to this report statistics of women’s participation in Indian media is 13. 8 % ( e.g. Chief Executive Officer ) at top management , 23.3 % ( e.g. News Directors) in senior management ,18.3% ( Chief Correspondent ) in middle management and 25.5 % ( Reportes, Sub-editors ) at junior professional level .
This report reveals that women’s participation in Indian media is very low and gender discrimination is the only reason behind this. Media sector in India is very strong and particularly India ranks second in circulation of newspaper copies in the world. “The new figures show that the four largest markets for newspapers are: China with 107 million copies daily; India, with 99 million copies daily; Japan with 69 million copies daily; and the United States, with nearly 51 million.” 1 Marathi newspapers in Maharashtra are also enjoying better position. Two Marathi newspapers Lokmat and Sakal are placed among India’s top 10 largest circulated regional dailies in the IRS first quarterly report 2012 . Lokmat is at second position and Sakal is at tenth position in this list. (http://mruc.net/irs2012q1-topline-findings.pdf) “ Women participation in Indian media is negligible.
Though a few women were appointed by the media many were not given big responsibilities. The media should be more responsible when it comes to reporting of women’s issues.” 2 This picture is same in Mahashtra state. Solapur city is 7 th populated city in Maharastra .Population of Solapur is more than 12 lacks. There are seven dailies having circulation of more than 25000 copies per day. But participation of women in newspapers editorial staff is negligible. It is observed that young women taking admissions to the media courses is increasing during last few years. But job opportunities are not easily accessible for them. Situation in electronic media seems better than newspapers.
Table no 1: Ratio of Women’s Participation in Editorial staff of Daily Newspapers in Solapur
This statistics clearly reveals that women’s participation in these newspapers as reporters, sub-editors, editors is less than 3%. Women journalists are confined generally to the table duties to edit women’s page or to cover cultural events arranged for women. Important beats such as political beat, crime beat does not allotted to the female journalists. They work on junior levels .In decision making process women’s participation almost neglected in all newspapers.
Table no 2 : Womens participation in electronic media in Solapur
Sr no| Media Unit | Male Journalists | Female Journalists| total| 1| AIR Solapur| 05 (71..42%)| 02 (18.58%)| 06|
2| Big 92.7 FM| 03 (100.00%)| 0(00.00%)| 04|
3| IN Solapur TV channel| 08 (80.0%)| 02 (20.0%)| 10|
4| Reporters of TV channels| 09 (90.0%) | 01 (10.0%)| 10| | Total| 23 (83.34%)| 05 (16.66%)| 30|
Women participation in electronic media is 16.66% as compared to mere 1.97 % in newspapers.
Solapur Working Journalist Union is organization of all journalist belonging to print and electronic media in Solapur .( Table no.3 ) Not a single female journalist included among total 125 members of Solapur Working Journalist’s Union
Table no 3: Members of Solapur Working Journalist Union
Male Journalists | Female Journalists|
125 ( 100%)| 00 ( 00 % )|
Male dominated media managements are not allowing access to the woman journalists. According to the executives of the media, woman journalists cannot work in the night shifts and they are reluctant to cover every beat assigned to them .That’s why we prefers male journalists for the job. This gender biased assumption of the media managements is contrary to the real facts. Women are actively participating in every walk of life such as armed forces, space science, entrepreneurship, education, engineering etc.They work hard without any concessions and proved their mettle. These examples prove that women are going hand-in-hand with men in every field. Therefore women can do their best in the field of media. Barkha Dutt, Nalini Singh, Mrinal Pandey, Sucheta Dalal are some prominent examples of women journalists doing brilliant job than male journalists. It reveals that only reason for the less participation of women in media is the gender bias of the management.
Women’s Representation in Media
Media plays an important role in the dissemination of information and knowledge to the masses. It is the role of the media to educate people and to guide them for the development of society and nation. But media content about women issues is alwayes biased and gender discrimination is clearly visible in it. Most of the woman’s organizations blame on media that it is responsible for biased and stereotype portrayal of women. Any society cannot progress without upliftment and empowerment of women .But Indian media is engaged in portraying women as housewives.” Feminists objected to the stereotypical portrayal of women as happy home- makers who were less competent than men.” 3 Now women are active participants in every walk of life. Therefore it is important to to properly project the image of women as role model. For these purpose women participation in media should be increased.
But mere participation does not change the situation. .“A large proportion of women thought that there would be a change in program content with as increase in proportion of female employees program quality would improve and more balanced perspective would be emerge. .” 4 Mrs. Suhas Kumar rightly suggested that “Women must become active participants in the field of journalism and other fields of media to fulfill the all-round development of women directly and indirectly.only through their involvement in journalism women will be able to speak for themselvesand the issues relevant to them”. 8 Therefore it is necessary to appoint women as decision makers in the newspapers. Special training must be given to all editorial staff about the equality principle and the rights of women as human being.
Male dominated newspaper industry is reluctant to give access to women journalists. Women journalists are not assigned to cover important issues. News related to women issues covered by male journalists cannot give justification to the issue. There are no guidelines for reservations for women in media jobs.Mere increases in number of women journalists cannot change the gender bias in media.
At the end, this study concludes with some suggestions (a) There is need to recruit women journalists in proportion, giving them equal opportunity and access to work in media. (b) The important women’s issues must be rported by women journalist. (c) Special guidelines should be given to all the journalists about projecting positive and real image of woman, without any bias. (d) There should be a provision to punish guilty persons for portraying women as commodity in any advertisement, news, article etc.
1. The Hindu online edition ,New Delhi, Jan,10, 2011.8
2. The Hindu online edition ,New Delhi, June,4 ,2008
3.Thakurta Paranjoy,Media Ethics : Truth, Fairness and Objectivity,Oxford