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Guest post: "We need to re-set the media compass to give equal prominence to women"

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MumsnetGuestPosts · 30/06/2016 11:54

Today we are launching GlobalGirl Media UK. It's part of an international movement - started in the USA - to raise women's profile in the media, both in front of and behind the camera. Through training teenage girls from under-served communities in video-making, reporting and blogging, we aim to empower them to tell stories from their perspectives, to spark community activism and social change.

So much of our understanding of life, and our place in it, is filtered through the eyes of men. They largely control the media and set the agenda. As working women and mothers of girls, we see the stereotyping of girls all around us, and yet we don't always notice the subtler messages, the omissions, that contribute to our valuing ourselves less than we should. By putting more girls behind the cameras and mics, we can change the narrative.

For me, it all started in Nepal, 10 years ago, when I ran a project teaching photography to disadvantaged girls. The results were captivating - as good as many contemporary photographers, yet more intimate, honest and insightful, because they showed the world through their eyes, from images of bizarre school punishments to close-up selfies, before selfies were a thing.

I'm now making a film about one of those girls. She was one of the most passionate, outspoken students at the age of 14, but has consistently been denied her voice by society. She moved away but I finally found her two years ago. At 22, she was married to an abusive husband, with a baby daughter, living in a dank, dark room. Now she's training in documentary filmmaking, with the flash of hope in her eyes again, as she once more takes control of her own story.

So when I heard that GlobalGirl Media was starting up in the UK, I grasped the chance to become a founder trustee. As mother to a 16-year-old daughter who stands up for herself admirably, my perception is that girls in the UK are a pretty powerful force. But when it comes to female representation in the media, the picture is not so rosy.

Less than 30% of key roles in newspapers and television are held by women. Only 23% of reporters on national daily newspapers in the UK are women. Only 24% of news subjects across global news channels are female. 46% of global news content reinforces gender stereotypes, the objectifying, sexualisation and belittling; only 6% of stories challenge such stereotypes.

This matters in so many ways, from developing individual self-esteem and agency, to re-setting the media compass to one that gives equal value and prominence to women, both as employees and subject matter.

Imagine if women, with their tendency to empathise and not gratuitously knock people down, had been running the media show leading up to the referendum. Would the country be in its current state of disarray? Might we have been better informed about the real issues at stake, instead of being subjected to a war of meaningless catch phrases?

We need to encourage girls, many of whom endure this put-down style of interaction at their mixed schools, to speak out about what matters to them. Even my daughter, so apparently sure of herself, is reluctant to speak up in class in case her views are wrong. GlobalGirl Media develops girls' awareness of their place in the world, their equal right to voice their views, whatever they may be.

GGM UK is keen to reach girls from culturally diverse backgrounds, who have the least access to training in media skills. The training is free and our first course runs this summer, at South Thames College in Wandsworth, south London. With the guidance of experienced TV and film professionals, new media mavericks and high-profile bloggers, our GlobalGirls will create and share stories from their point of view.

As the first members of the London GlobalGirl Newsroom, they'll upload reports to our own broadband network, GGMN TV, as well as other wide-reaching platforms, and benefit from the GlobalGirl Media Network worldwide.

The initial response to GGM UK has been warm and inclusive. We've already had all-access passes to the Sundance Film Festival in London, where two early recruits reported on the Diversity panel discussion. We're exploring collaborations with organisations that promote youth and equality, such as the Southbank Centre (where our GlobalGirls will report on the International Day of the Girl on 11 October) and the BFI Film Academy.

We still have spaces on our summer course, so if you know of any teenage girls who are itching to tell their stories, we'd be delighted to hear from them. This is their moment to spark change!

Contact Programme Director Tor Bridges on [email protected] for more information.

OP posts:
SirChenjin · 30/06/2016 14:03

I absolutely agree - but for me, the key part of your thread is that these are girls from culturally diverse backgrounds. If what is meant by equal prominence is more of the privileged few from private schools then I'm not interested. Good luck - sounds a fantastic initiative Smile

DetestableHerytike · 30/06/2016 19:18

Good luck!

BackforGood · 30/06/2016 21:34

Interextingly, only this week, watching the BBC o'clock news, it struck me how female dominated it was. Fiona Bruce was the lead person out in Brussels with the (female) political editor, (female) European editor and then they handed back to the (female) anchor back in the studio.
Inoticed the gender imbalance, but it was en that weren't in any of the top mobs.

DetestableHerytike · 30/06/2016 22:28

Yes, the BBC has way more women than it used to. We are more likely to spot a majority or even 50% female news programme because it's still unusual enough to snag on the brain.

It's not impossible that we will have May, Eagle, Sturgeon, Merkel and Clinton as significant political leaders by the end of the year. Which would be awesome, but one day soon I hope would be a commonplace.

EmpressOfTheSevenOceans · 01/07/2016 07:59

I'd love to see the likes of Lyse Doucet, Lindsey Hilsum, Kylie Morris and Ritula Shah as female role models rather than pop & reality stars. It sounds like a great project.

As SirChenjin asked above, how are you going to encourage girls from diverse backgrounds to take part?

GGMUK · 01/07/2016 10:00

Thank you for your concern. It is vital to us that the recruits are from diverse backgrounds, representing underserved communities. GGM UK is not in any way interested in perpetuating the current power elite, but rather we intend to disrupt the male- and white-dominated narrative by bringing new voices and perspectives to the conversation.

EmpressOfTheSevenOceans · 01/07/2016 11:05

GGM UK, you've just shot up massively in my estimation by actually sticking around to have a conversation - you wouldn't believe how many guest posters just post & vanish. Cheers.

BackforGood · 01/07/2016 21:32

Again though - I can only comment on BBC news as thats what I watch, but it neither dominated by males nor white people. Confused

BeakyMinder · 01/07/2016 21:49

I love this! Finally something genuinely positive happening.
It's the first thread I haven't sworn on all evening.

GarlicStake · 02/07/2016 00:35

Only just flicked through this, and am loving it. Putting on my feed :)

DetestableHerytike · 02/07/2016 06:09


BBC news is way better than it used to be, though on another night you may have seen the reverse. Things like Question Time, Andrew Marr Show etc ie the longer shows do tend to be male hosted still and, on radio, the Today programme and PM are both more male than female, I believe.

GGMUK · 02/07/2016 09:41

Fortuantely, the BBC has just enshrined 'diversity' into its charter. It is indeed our national treasure

SirChenjin · 02/07/2016 10:14

To a point. If we mean diversity across the socioeconomic groups then I would argue it still has a long way to go. Interesting article here

GGMUK · 03/07/2016 20:08

Very apposite. Thank you.

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