Mass Media Playing Safe on Women’s Vital Issues

Mass Media Playing Safe on Women’s Vital IssuesMass Media Playing Safe on Women’s Vital Issues

The labor minister’s advisor on women and family affairs has censured the “conservative approach” of the mass media when dealing with issues concerning women.

“Mass media have the task to inform the masses and women of their potential and capacities in the economic spheres, but they have so far been conservative in their approach,” Vahideh Negin told ISNA on Wednesday.

While gender inequality and discrimination exists across the world, she said the problems are primarily cultural in nature, and the mass media can help redress that.

“The national mass media in Iran are cautious in their approach and barely reflect upon such issues,” she rued.

In the information age, the mass media in addition to playing its traditional role in informing, educating, and entertaining the people, should also help nurture desirable values in the people, as media and society impact each other.

National television in particular, to which housewives are more exposed, can and should dispense information easily among women on the various roles they can play in the economy in addition to being good mothers and spouses.

“It can help them realize in what ways and to what extent their potential can be effective in social, economic, and political spheres,” Negin noted.

Pointing to the 17 lawmakers in the 10th Majlis which convened late last month, she said, “As we saw during the parliamentary elections, getting proactive in raising awareness and publicizing contributions of women by the media resulted in the election of more women representatives to the legislature, as a larger number of women became aware of how they could and should help bring about change.”

One of the reasons why the mass media has not been active is certain key areas is that the pertinent authorities have been oblivious to the media and its role and influence in society, she said.

 Not Clearly Defined

The cultural advisor to the minister of culture and Islamic guidance has also censured the passive role of the mass media in providing clear definitions in areas relating to women.

“It is not yet clear what balance, empowerment, and development means with regards to women, and what roles women can or do play in national development,” said Dr. Parvin Dadandish.

She criticized the fact that large sections of the media have been “looking at the issue through a political lens rather than acting professionally and scientifically” in this particular aspect.

Dadandish, who doubles as the rector of West Tehran’s Islamic Azad University, stressed the critical role of the media in building trust with their audience, and said well-established trust can go a long way in institutionalizing the messages to be conveyed.

“The content of such messages must also develop abreast of today’s social realities,” she added.

Underlining that women’s issues have been pushed to the margins, lost amidst the plethora of political and security issues plus anachronistic concerns, the cultural official called on the media to walk women through the many possibilities that exist by sharing their success stories, clarify social priorities, and provide updated information on how women can be productive on the larger national scale than in the home and kitchen.

Both women’s rights activists referred to the upcoming first Woman, Family, and Media Festival as an annual event that could play a significant role in connecting media and women activists in a more efficacious way.

Slated to take place in mid July, the festival is organized by the media workgroup at the Vice Presidency for Women and Family Affairs in cooperation with the Culture Ministry.

The event intends to step up the approach of mass media towards issues of women and family, as well as encouraging reporters and activists to provide wider and more comprehensive coverage on matters related to women.

“With proper and timely information and directing the attention of government and non-governmental organizations to women’s issues, the mass media can play a pivotal role in helping alleviate gender bias and problems that emerge in the absence of law in certain areas relating to women,” Negin reiterated.