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Miriam College is a premier women's college in the Philippines. Founded in 1924, Miriam College offers programs at the basic, tertiary, post-graduate and adult education levels.

The institution supports specialized centers engaged in curriculum development, research, community outreach and advocacy in the fields of social development, peace education, environmental studies and women’s empowerment.

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No Joke! A Conversation on a Gender Fair, Inclusive and Empowering Philippine Media

No Joke! A Conversation on a Gender Fair, Inclusive and Empowering Philippine Media

Miriam College’s Women and Gender Institute (WAGI), in partnership with the European Union Gender Focal Group, Miriam College Department of Communication, and Ateneo Asian Center for Journalism (ACFJ), launched a 3-part webinar series to further understand and undo the gender biases and sexist culture that continue to prevail in Philippine media and to shape a more responsible, gender fair, inclusive and empowering media. The webinar was held last March 29, April 5 & 12, 2021 via Zoom. In the opening remarks, Prof. Aurora De Dios, Senior Project Director of WAGI, recognized that people, especially feminist advocates, continue to challenge and seek to end sexism and misogyny in Philippine media simply due to its continuous prevalence. Ms. Saskia de Lang, Gender Champion and Ambassador of The Netherlands to the Philippines, highlighted in her keynote speech the need to work together in shaping cultural gender norms and making gender fair and inclusive language a universal language.

Ms. Rina Jimenez-David, Feminist, Retired Columnist, and Journalist from the Philippine Daily Inquirer, along with her other employees were some of the first people to draft one of the first policies on sexual harassment in a media company through the ‘Blue Book’ and Journalists’ Code of Ethics. However, the lack of specific sections on gender concerns put the ‘Blue book’ to the test. Ms. Pia Ranada from Rappler shared that the main tension for female political beat reporters like her comes from their working environment where government officials are their sources and subjects of coverage. “Sexism has become a part of the political theater of the man I cover”, she said. Ms. Ranada covers Malacañang. Formally and respectfully calling out sexist remarks is one way to confront this issue, she added. As for Ms. Jamela Alindogan, a Journalist from Al Jazeera, recognizes women’s issues as minority issues. According to Ms. Jamela, there is no one way for female journalists to deal with harassment because every situation is different. Female journalists rarely speak about their own experiences of sexual harassment and abuse mainly because they have families to protect, apart from their job.
 
Other speakers were also invited to discuss other sessions on the topic, including Ms. Therese San Diego-Torres, from the Department of Communication Miriam College and Ms. Luz Rimban, Executive Director of the Ateneo Asian Center for Journalism, who both discussed the first session on news, views, and the gendered state of Philippine media. Ms. Pacita De Chavez Fortin and Ms. Dasha Uy of WAGI discussed the third session of the webinar which focused on spotting hetero-sexist terms and sharpening gender-fair language in media reportage. Finally, Ms. Mira Ofreneo, Psychology Department in Ateneo de Manila University discussed the last session on spotting hetero-sexist discourse and positioning counter-discourses in media reportage. In the conducted workshop, the participants examine news statements which perpetuate sexism, gender-bias, sensationalization, and such. They emphasized that gender fair practice in media industries, as ethical practice, sometimes requires more than using alternative terms, such as reframing narratives and reforming “workspace culture”.
 
Ms. Luz Rimban synthesized the 3-days long webinar where she stated, “Glamorous though the job of a female reporter or journalist may seem, it is fought with many challenges including the dangers and realities of sexual harassment and discrimination.” Women leaders are marginalized because the country has sexist or misogynistic leaders who edge women leaders, especially under the current administration. The tremendous power of media must then be used in promoting ethical, gender fair and gender sensitive reportage because words and images help shape people’s views and attitudes in denormalizing the systematic and structural problem of sexism and misogyny in society.

Written by: Maria Angelica J. Tamoria

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