International Women’s Day 2022: Media Freedom Coalition Statement

Today, on International Women’s Day 2022, the undersigned members of the Media Freedom Coalition call attention to the safety of women journalists and media workers.

Women journalists are disproportionately targeted by harassment, threats, sexist hate speech, trolling and violence. Many women journalists face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and gender-based violence because of other characteristics, including race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity. A recent UNESCO study shows that almost 75 percent of women journalists worldwide have experienced online gender-based violence.

Attacks on women journalists distort the media landscape by threatening diversity and perpetuating inequalities. Furthermore, the escalation of sexual and gender-based violence and harassment is of urgent concern and forms a serious threat to an inclusive and diverse media landscape. It is a risk to media pluralism and democracy as a whole. The threats women journalists and media workers face tend to silence their voices and limit their ability to exercise their freedom of speech. Women should always be able to speak out without fear of harassment, discrimination or violence. There is also in many places a climate of impunity surrounding online attacks on women journalists and media workers, which perpetuates the cycle of gender-based violence.

Striving towards gender balance in media leadership and ownership positions is critical for independent journalism to effectively pursue the public interest as it performs its information-gathering and -sharing roles in society. Lack of gender balance in media leadership results in blind spots, one-sided reporting and gender stereotyping. Unfortunately, women often do not occupy positions of power and their access to leadership roles remains limited. This leaves women voices unheard, their stories untold, and they are unable to break the glass ceiling.

Today, we call upon all countries to combat sexual and gender-based violence, protect women journalists and media workers both online and offline, and defend their ability to practice journalism freely and safely.

Co-signatures: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belize, Botswana, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guyana, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Montenegro, the Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, Uruguay, the United States.