As an essential actor in society, media plays a critical role in shaping democratic processes. Media has also a critical role in changing the narrative on women. Much has been said about the dual roles the media can play - as agent for peace or as spoiler and instigator of conflict. The way journalists report conflict can shape narrative and even assign responsibility. In addition to what is being reported, how news is reported can also have implications – information that are misleading, unbalanced reports that intensify one side of the story, misrepresentation of facts or narratives shaped during reporting can lead to further conflict and instability. Therefore, it is important for journalists to be equipped with the necessary skills to support them be peacebuilding agents or at the very least ensure that conflicts are not aggravated because of their reporting.
In addition, conflict reporting has either been gender blind at best, or at worst, perpetuated stereotypes and harmful narratives. It is therefore important to mobilize partnerships with media by promoting gender responsive reporting to ensure that it contributes to the accurate portrayal of women’s lives in conflict and post conflict contexts, highlighting the whole range of their roles and strengths as well as the impact of conflict in their lives. Transformation of media practice, at both individual and institutional levels can bring about the social change we seek.
The UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, adopted in 2000 by Security Council of United Nations, reaffirms the important role of women in prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, humanitarian response, and in post-conflict reconstruction. The resolution stresses the importance of women’s equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security, urges all actors to increase the participation of women in peacebuilding, and to incorporate gender perspectives in all United Nations peace and security efforts. It also calls on all parties to take special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, particularly rape and other forms of sexual abuse, in situations of armed conflict. Media representations of warfare and peacebuilding, however, do not always reflect the aims of UNSC Resolution 1325 and do not always support the advancement of gender equality. Media coverage is often characterized by weaknesses such as the following:
Gender disparity is one of the root causes of violence, in a cultural-structural sense, but it is rarely recognized as an essential focus point in conventional reporting on conflict sources and is marginalized. The impact of conflict on women and their role in peacebuilding, is rarely given prominent coverage in reporting on conflict. Framing, the use of language and imagery, and even the traditional male structure of news organizations need to be considered to avoid stereotypes in reporting.
The news coverage of conflicts is profoundly gendered and largely men dominated. Men are asked to explain and interpret the conflict in many different roles: as combatants, warlords, experts, and politicians. Women’s opinions, on the other hand, are rarely asked and if they are, it is usually from the perspective of victims. Integrating a gender lens into conflict reporting is a complex process. It involves respecting the key standards of journalistic professionalism which impartially presents verified information in a fair and balanced manner, it gives voice to marginalized actors, and shuns gender stereotypes.
The media’s instrumental role in peacebuilding or conflict mitigation can be successfully carried out when it is capacitated with knowledge and skill that allows it to understand its unique position. Journalists need to have skills of understanding conflicts, analysing them and transforming information relating to conflict into a fair, balanced, accurate portrayal of the situation with a positive narration that can promote peace and mitigate conflict. In addition, journalists need to have the skills on gender responsive reporting to ensure that the voices of women and the vulnerable are heard much more clearly in peacebuilding and in conflict resolution. The skills of peace journalism can be pivotal to a society in conflict that aims to build a more peaceful state. As Ethiopia is transitioning from conflict to peace, it is essential that medias have the capacity to understand conflict especially in relation to reporting gender issue in conflict settings.
Enhancing the capacity of media personnel, i.e. both print and broadcast media on gender sensitive conflict reporting, is one of the strategies adopted by the UN Women through Women in Leadership and Governance and Peace Building Funds’ Inclusive Governance and Conflict Management Support program. Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority (EBA) in collaboration with UN Women successfully organized two rounds of trainings on Gender Responsive Conflict Reporting and Peace Journalism from 7- 10 May 2019 and 12-14 June 2019 in Adama where more than 74 media personnel participated.
One of the feedbacks from the training is lack of guideline at national level on how to undertake gender sensitive conflict reporting. Accordingly, with a view to avail a knowledge product that can be referenced by both print and broadcast media personnel and fill this gap, UN Women in collaboration with EBA is planning to support the development of a comprehensive set of guidelines accompanied by a checklist on gender sensitive conflict reporting.
The Guideline will be part of the Gender Responsive Media Guideline adopted in 2019 in collaboration with EBA and UN Women. It also draws upon the Handbook on ‘Gender-Responsive Reporting in Conflict Affected Countries in Africa’ developed by African Union in collaboration UN Women in 2017. The guideline is expected to be contextualized to Ethiopia, translated into local vernacular and disseminated to local media houses. The process of the Guideline development which will bring on board representatives from local media houses is expected to enhance awareness on the issue of women peace and security and the role of the media and increase ownership at local level.
This TOR is prepared to recruitment of consultants to develop the guideline together with a checklist.
The consultants are expected to carry out the following tasks:
The consultants are expected to deliver the following outputs:
Compliance with UN Core Values
Experience and skills
UN Women is the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide.
UN Women supports UN Member States as they set global standards for achieving gender equality, and works with governments and civil society to design laws, policies, programmes and services needed to ensure that the standards are effectively implemented and truly benefit women and girls worldwide. It works globally to make the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals a reality for women and girls and stands behind women’s equal participation in all aspects of life, focusing on four strategic priorities:
Women lead, participate in and benefit equally from governance systems
Women have income security, decent work and economic autonomy
All women and girls live a life free from all forms of violence
Women and girls contribute to and have greater influence in building sustainable peace and resilience, and benefit equally from the prevention of natural disasters and conflicts and humanitarian action
UN Women also coordinates and promotes the UN system’s work in advancing gender equality, and in all deliberations and agreements linked to the 2030 Agenda. The entity works to position gender equality as fundamental to the Sustainable Development Goals, and a more inclusive world.