JCU Reporting on Women and Girls


John Cabot University, founded in 1972, is an independent, four-year liberal arts university offering undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees, and study abroad programs to English-speaking students from all over the world. The University is at the heart of Rome surrounded by the extraordinarily rich offerings of a city of culture, history, art, creativity, business, and international affairs.

 


 
Who was John Cabot?
Giovanni Caboto or John Cabot, as he was later called when he sailed under the English flag, was a skilled Italian navigator and explorer of the 15th century who opened the channels for further exploration of North America and thus forged a link between Italy and the Americas that has lasted over five hundred years.


 

 

Inter Press Service in partnership with John Cabot University is holding two lecture series titled ‘Reporting on Women and Girls’on October 12, 2023 and ‘Reporting on Climate Change’ on November 15, 2023.

Participants include Bachelor of Arts students from the School of Business, students majoring in Political Science (or International Affairs), University’s alumni and faculty members.

Rosemary Vargas-Lundius


Rosemary Vargas-Lundius, former senior UN IFAD official, will join Joyce Chimbi, a journalist based in Kenya, Africa- in unpacking what is required in this decade of action ahead of 2030 to meet the sustainable goals for women and girls. The lecture session will be moderated by Alison Kentish.

Vargas-Lundius holds a PhD in development economics from Lund University, Sweden and has researched rural poverty and unemployment, gender and migration. Since her arrival at IFAD, she initiated a comprehensive Gender Mainstreaming Program. More recently, she developed a new Gender and Youth webpage to share IFAD’s knowledge on these important topics. She is the Chair of the KNOMAD Cross-Cutting Theme on Gender and the Co-Chair of the Thematic Working Group on internal migration and urbanization.

Joyce Chimbi


Chimbi is a senior writer for IPS and member of the Kenya Editors Guild, who specializes in reporting on women, human rights, education, climate change, health and development. She has written for the Association of Media Women in Kenya, Gender Links, Standard Newspaper, Nation Newspaper, The Star, People Daily and Kenya Times.

 

 

Alison Kentish


Kentish is an IPS journalist and reports on science and health. Her first degree is in Criminal Justice and she holds a master’s degree in science journalism from Columbia University. Her investigation into ecological restoration won one of the school’s top awards. She has bylines in the BBC Future, New Scientist and Reuters.

 

 

 

What has climate change meant for the Global South, the least responsible for emissions, but most vulnerable to climate change impacts?

IPS journalist Busani Bafana will join Jan Lundius to address climate justice, tackle the impact of climate change on agricultural practices, community, and conflicts on the African continent and explore the efforts needed to mitigate its effects.

Jan Lundius


Lundius is a former UNESCO official and University professor. He has 30 years of experience in social and anthropological research, evaluation of rural development projects, assessment of project impact on rural communities, as well as negotiations of technical cooperation programs for local capacity building within social sciences and humanities in Latin America and Africa.

 

 

Busani Bafana


Bafana is a specialist climate change journalist and has reported extensively on the continent and his home country Zimbabwe. He is a media trainer with a deep understanding of the continent’s issues, its impacts on society, climate financing, and justice. Alison Kentish will moderate the session.

 

 


 

Concept Note: Reporting on Women and Girls

Lecture Session at John Cabot University led by Inter Press Service

Things are getting worse, not better for women and girls. Economic shocks are rolling back progress on gender equality as women bear the brunt of labor-market shocks. The World Economic Forum estimates we will not see gender parity for another 100 years. Forced child marriages, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is common in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, and sexual and reproductive health goals are still far from what the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) envisioned. At current pace, these goals will remain unrealized.

Prior to COVID-19, women faced a 99-year wait before they could enjoy full equality with men. The effects of the unprecedented global pandemic and subsequent economic shocks have only prolonged the wait. More than 53 of the 251 SGD’s indicators make direct reference to gender equality, women and girls. Research has provided irrefutable evidence that without narrowing existing inequalities between men and women, the pursuit of SDG’s will be grossly derailed as women remain disproportionally affected by multidimensional poverty. With less than 10 years remaining to reach the SDG goals, the world is not on track and will remain off track until women and girls pull a sit at the table where decisions about their lives are made.

Rosemary Vargas-Lundius, former senior UN IFAD official, will join Joyce Chimbi, a journalist based in Kenya, Africa- in unpacking what is required in this decade of action ahead of 2030 to meet the sustainable goals for women and girls. The lecture session will be moderated by Alison Kentish.

Vargas-Lundius holds a PhD in development economics from Lund University, Sweden and has researched rural poverty and unemployment, gender and migration. Since her arrival at IFAD, she initiated a comprehensive Gender Mainstreaming Program. More recently, she developed a new Gender and Youth webpage to share IFAD’s knowledge on these important topics. She is the Chair of the KNOMAD Cross-Cutting Theme on Gender and the Co-Chair of the Thematic Working Group on internal migration and urbanization.

Chimbi is a senior writer for IPS and member of the Kenya Editors Guild, who specializes in reporting on women, human rights, education, climate change, health and development. She has written for the Association of Media Women in Kenya, Gender Links, Standard Newspaper, Nation Newspaper, The Star, People Daily and Kenya Times.

Kentish is an IPS journalist and reports on science and health. Her first degree is in Criminal Justice and she holds a master’s degree in science journalism from Columbia University. Her investigation into ecological restoration won one of the school’s top awards. She has bylines in the BBC Future, New Scientist and Reuters.


 

Reporting on the status of women and girls

Rosemary Vargas-Lundius

Rosemary Vargas-Lundius

The World Economic Forum estimates that global gender parity will not be reached for another hundred years unless very drastic measures are taken to address the different factors limiting gender equality. In most countries women and girls continue to confront discrimination, while men and boys are influenced by a misogynistic culture and a static perception of masculinity. Such limitations and socio-economic disparities hinder the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 5 Gender Equality, which five targets still are not on track to be achieved by 2030.

To achieve the 17 SDGs, the global community must focus on women and girls, investing money on their education, health, social protection, promoting equal employment opportunities and combating gender-based violence.

Women need equal representation before the law and be equally included in decision-making prosses. Giving women the same rights as men in access to resources and representation, will help to achieve a significant number of the SDGs, including reducing inequality, combating poverty, reducing hunger, contributing to more inclusive economic growth, and promoting more peaceful societies.

Equal rights (legal, economic, and social rights) are the foundation for gender equality. Women worldwide enjoy fewer rights than men. In some countries, women are not allowed to own land, manage their own businesses, or even go out of their home unaccompanied. Such unequal treatment prevents women and girls from having adequate access to health, wealth, education, and/or knowledge. As a result, women tend to be more affected by poverty, work under precarious employment without social protection, including unpaid domestic and care work. Gender-based violence is on the increase. In many countries, the number of women being killed by a partner is alarming, while underaged girls’ marriage and female genital mutilation continue to be unchecked.

Women and girls are facing disadvantages and barriers in most spheres of social and economic life, they are often less confident than men in their financial skills and decisions. This generally results in gender differences in financial knowledge and financial behaviour. Finance is generally considered a male field, while there persists a gendered division of household work where men manage household finances, and women manage household chores and care. There exists a lack of financial socialisation from an early age, due to the existence of gendered stereotypes, culture and social norms which contribute to differences in financial knowledge of women and men in adulthood. This disadvantage is further enhanced by the fact that even if in some countries girls and young women have higher educational attainment, men continue to be more likely to be employed, earn more on average, be in decision-making positions in the public and private sector and engage in entrepreneurship activities compared to women.

The negative consequences of inequalities, climate change, social injustice, and conflicts affect women worse than men. Recent crises including the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s war against Ukraine present new challenges as women are more likely to suffer heavier economic and financial consequences due to gender gaps in savings and income. The sharp increases in the cost-of-living threatens to erode some of the progress made on gender equality over the past decades.

The global community needs to focus on women as they represent 50 percent of society and thus have the potential of contributing to boost economic growth and productivity. According to the OECD, closing gaps in labour force participation and working hours has the potential to drive an average 9.2% boost to GDP across OECD countries by 2060, adding about 0.23% to average annual growth.

In some countries, there has been efforts to address gender gaps and tackle the structural causes of inequality. There has been some progress in some policy areas, such as paternity leave, pay transparency, flexible work opportunities and higher representation of women in government and leadership roles. Programs and policies have been developed for addressing gender stereotypes, supporting women’s labour market participation and promote a more equal distribution of paid- and unpaid-work between men and women, and ensuring the collection of gender-disaggregated data. Some countries have also tried to address gender-based violence by issuing new and more effective laws.

Despite existing data, there has been very little progress in terms of reporting the situation of women and girls across the globe. Media reports usually focus on sensationalist news. There is a lack of effort from the media to communicate to the public the relevant issues on gender inequalities and the negative impact they are having on women and girls and on society at large. There is also a neglect on reporting on progress being made.

To achieve the SDGs changes must be made at different levels of society and be structurally institutionalized worldwide, particularly in developing countries. The poorest people are the ones who suffer the most because of gender inequalities and gender-based violence. Billions of people, particularly women, are being affected and left on their own when it comes to coping with unemployment, illness, and lack of social protection. Unlike in most developed countries, people are unable to claim maternity and paternity leave, child benefit, compensation for unemployment, loss of earnings or old-age pensions. Investing in women and girls and increasing social protection will not only reduce poverty but also social and gender inequalities.

While addressing the negative effects of inequalities attention should be paid to the intersectoral nature of policy solutions supporting gender equality. This include designing policies and programs, including training programs, to ensure gender issues are addressed at all levels of society, from governmental to the individual levels, promoting the right mind-set to advance gender equality. A mainstreamed approach to gender equality is the way forward to achieve sustainable progress. Efforts should be made for incorporating gender equality considerations in policy making and strengthening the nexus between gender equality and all policy areas. This requires looking at gender equality across a whole variety of socio-economic, geographic, institutional, policy and sectoral factors. For this to be achieved, countries should work towards ensuring a better representation of women in policy and decision-making processes.


 

Africa’s Women’s Battle for Equality and Role of Media

Joyce Chimbi

Joyce Chimbi

“Women are under-represented in decision-making positions worldwide. However, gender equality and diversity are recognised to have beneficial effects on organisations, institutions and the overall economy.”

One of the most critical, landmark conferences on women’s rights and representation is the 1995 Beijing Women’s Conference that led to the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, an agenda for women’s empowerment IS considered the key global policy document on gender equality. The Beijing Declaration framed the agenda around critical areas of women’s marginalization in the world, but more so in the Global South. These issues were organized around the thematic areas of women and poverty, education and training of women, women and health, violence against women, women and armed conflict, women and the economy, women in power and decision making, institutional mechanism for the advancement of women, human rights of women, women and media, women and the environment and the girls child. Since then, the global community has set these as goals along the Millenium Development Goals and today, around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). On the African continent, there is the Maputo Protocol of action adopted in 2003, a binding protocol by the African Union to promote and accelerate women empowerment. The African continent and the larger Global South have a surplus of policy and legal frameworks to push forward the women/girl’s agenda.

Place of media in the battle for equality

Media today, from traditional legacy media to online media, still hugely influence our perceptions and ideas about the role of girls and women in society. What we have unfortunately seen until now is that media tend to perpetuate gender inequality. Research shows that from a young age, children are influenced by the gendered stereotypes that media present to them.”

The media landscape is evolving and journalists are increasingly called upon to amplify the voices of the marginalized, those at the periphery of society. Women account for more than half of the population in the global South. With this majority, it is astounding that women and girls are pushed out and marginalized from the epicenter of decision making in all sectors of the society, in politics, leadership and decision making, in the media, in the education sector, corporate and security agencies.

It is impossible for societies to achieve global development goals and parameters without women in decision making positions for women bring in a perspective from lived experiences. For example in education, more girls are enrolled but gradually drop out of school from one grade to the next. Women can help develop solutions that are tailor made to the experiences of women and girls.

The media has long advanced biases and stereotypes in both blatant and subtle ways. For instance, when Kenya’ controversial Finance Act 2023 was first floated, all prime-time media slots were given to male financial experts. The experts used the opportunity to educate the public on the pros and cons of the then Bill. But the voice of women was missing. Women and men experience financial challenges and opportunities in different ways. Women are often invited to speak about, or contribute to soft topics and yet without their voice in the critical hard issues that affect societies today, development will remain derailed.

Advocacy journalism?

There are raging debates over the role of media on the gender agenda. But the ethics of journalism are not in conflict with the role of media in advancing women’s rights and representation. The primary role is to inform the public that half of the population has been left behind and why it is necessary to address the marginalization as a weak link in the struggle to achieve the SDGs.


 
Recommended Reading

A Flawed GDP Bypasses Women’s Unpaid Care Work
Taking Stock of Two Decades of Trailblazing Protocol on Women’s Rights in Africa
Women’s Cooperatives Work to Sustain the Social Fabric in Argentina
Women’s Financial Inclusion, Empowerment in Kenya
Reform Needed As Big Business, Not Vulnerable Communities Benefit from Post-Pandemic Support
Menstrual Health and Hygiene Is Unaffordable for Poor Girls and Women in Latin America
Health – It’s Time for Women to Lead the Sector
Breaking Barriers: Why Free & Public Education Should be Every Woman’s Right
Sierra Leone’s Gender Law Boosts Women’s Participation in Politics, Business
UN’s High-Level Meeting of World Leaders Falls Short of Gender Empowerment




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