IAWRT parallel event

The 60th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is being held in New York from 14 to 24 March 2016. IAWRT’s parallel event, Gender inequality in the media: Exploring strategies for change, will be held at 12.30, on March 17 2016. 

Civil society is given the opportunity to participate in the NGO CSW Forum, which is organized by NGO CSW/NY, independently from the United Nations. It includes a Consultation Day, Reception, and the Parallel Events.

The priority theme of this year’s CSW is ‘Women’s Empowerment linked to the Sustainable Development’s Goals’ (SDG’s). The review theme is ‘The elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls’ (agreed conclusions from the fifty-seventh session). The focus of the CSW will be on the review and appraisal of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and the recent adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for realising substantive gender equality, women’s rights and empowerment. An outline of how  CSW will work and draft conclusions and resolutons here.

 IAWRT’s parallel event will be held on March 17, 2016 at the Church Center for the United Nations (CCUN) – 777 UN Plaza (44th St. & 1st. Ave) New York. 

IAWRT Board members are preparing and presenting a session which will focus on the lack of global progress in making women more than 24% of news sources – the same as five years ago. In many countries, women remain underrepresented or even invisible in the news and better access to and portrayal of women in the media is a critical stepping stone in securing equal rights. But how do we change the media mechanisms of effectively silencing women? Through concrete examples the world’s oldest organisation for media women, IAWRT, will explore new thoughts, perspectives and strategies for giving women an equal voice and thus ensure gender equality in line with the SDGs.

The full parallel event schedule to the NGO CSW forum can be downloaded here.

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By Nonee Walsh

IAWRT member, Bandana Rana is thrilled by the recognition of her decades of activism on women’s rights in Nepal by being honoured as a ‘Women of Distinction’ by the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, New York (CSW/NY).

A long term leader in the Nepal women’s movement, she has spent decades in voluntary activism, promoting women’s rights through local, national and international organisations. She says she has made a point of attending the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) over the last decade, to “take the voices from the community into the global arena, as CSW is an important arena for creating policies.” CSW/NY noted her efforts “to bring the local level to the various UN processes (Beijing Review, CEDAW, UNSCR 1325, ICPD and SDGs)” and Bandana Rana says she is “thrilled that the committee has recognised me.”

Ms Rana worked for 20 year in Nepal Television and founded Sancharika Samuha (Forum of Women in Media) and was the first woman on Radio Nepal’s board of directors and the National Press Council Board as well as the inaugural Chair of the IAWRT Nepal chapter. She now devotes herself entirely to activism. She headed the IAWRT Nepal Chapter from its inception in 2006-7 until 2015, and was a member of the international board and an IAWRT Vice President.

As CSW/NY says, Ms Rana is a passionate advocate of the UN Security Council Resolution which addresses the massive impact of war on women and the pivotal role women should play in conflict resolution (UNSCR 1325). After a decade of conflict in Nepal ended, IAWRT Nepal under her leadership hosted a national conference in 2006, ‘The Role of Media Women in Post Conflict Reconstruction’ and organised an international conference, ‘Women Building Peace: Sharing Experiences and Challenges’ in December 2007. Members also produced documentaries on women’s participation in the Constituent Assembly and on the Domestic Violence Act in a post conflict scenario, as well as joining with other with other media organisations to conduct orientation for journalists on UNSCR 1325.

While Bandana Rana agrees that people can become cynical, even critical, of the United Nations, she feels that such instruments “provide a mandate to lobby and pressure government on policies which might affect us. If we did not have resolution 1325, we would not have the 2011 national action plan which mandated women’s involvement in the peace building process.” CSW/NY says Bandana Rana was “the key architect in the drafting of the National Action Plan”.

Ms Rana says local women may not be bothered by UN mandates, but engaging civil society in the consultation process over the peace plan meant “they now have a voice and are able to demand their meaningful role in the peace building process.”

She has also worked tirelessly at the local, national and international level campaigning to end violence against women. In Nepal she founded the National Network Against Domestic Violence and co-founded Saathi, an NGO that works on preventing violence against women and girls through partnerships and collaborations. For example, Bandana Rana says one of its important initiatives has been the collaboration with the Police force to build trust in police so that survivors of violence can pursue justice with confidence. She is the team leader of the program Astha (meaning building trust) –”Addressing Social barriers That Hamper the Advancement of Women being implemented in 8 of the rural districts of Nepal.

The devastating Nepal earthquakes in 2015 which killed 9000 and injured 23,000 people also destroyed the homes of hundreds of thousands of Nepalese has made Ms Rana’s work harder (partly because she lost staff to international aid organisations offering higher salaries) but she is not daunted. “We have reached out to women traumatised by loss of family, and lack of food security, delivered first aid and healing.”

“Recovery takes a long time, and we are making sure that gender perspectives are incorporated in the technical committee overseeing recovery. We developed a women’s charter and took it to many ministers including the Prime Minister.”

A particular issue for women and children is the vulnerability to sexualised violence which comes with a loss of family and the lack of privacy in sleeping in open tents and using communal latrines. Women’s groups such as Saathi set up, or lobbied for temporary safe places for women. When traffickers stated taking advantage of unprotected females, they organised watch posts so that there could be interventions if women or girls were in danger.

Bandana Rana will move from traumatised Nepal back into the global spotlight in early March 2016 when she delivers the keynote address at the Consultation Day held by CSW/NY, on the eve of the 60th session of the Commission on the Status of Women.

However, she will not be moving far from the passions which have long motivated her. “We must reach out to women on the ground being threatened by, or surviving sexual violence – and keep asking, are the campaigns really reaching out to the people we are working for.”



$10,000 in cash prizes on offer for feature documentary and narrative films for the WVN 2016 online file festival.  Entries deadline is March 8, 2016 at 11:59PM PST. The 2016 Women’s Voices Now, Online Film Festival aims to portray diverse and under-reported stories of (self-identified) women and men supporting women. Subjects broached in this festival include women in politics, social and legal change/justice, political rebellion, women’s rights struggles, and more. All films in any language other than English are encouraged to be submitted; however, those films must include English language subtitles. Details here. There is a $20 submission fee for all films.Farsi/Dari,Chinese,French,Spanish

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A new edition of the ‘Safety Guide for Journalists: a handbook for journalists in high-risk environments’ is available. The guide says that violence against female journalists is a “double attack” on their sex as well as their profession. Throughout the guide there are practical tips for women in the field. 

The 130-page guide compiled by Reporters Without Borders in association with UNESCO offers essential information and practical advice for journalists to assist them before, during and after an assignment in dangerous areas. This publication comes in a context of developing threats against media professionals, with more than 700 journalists killed in the past decade for reporting the news. In 2015, more than 105 journalists were killed, while many more were threatened, imprisoned or kidnapped for simply doing their work of bringing news and informing to the public.

The latest edition was launched on 5 February 2016 at the conference News organizations standing up for the safety of media professionals in Paris.“The Guide is an important body of knowledge and experience acquired over the years by journalists, news organizations and groups that campaign for freedom of expression,” according to Guy Berger, Director of the Division of Freedom of Expression and Media Development at UNESCO.

The Safety Guide for Journalists contains a wide range of essential information to enhance the safety of journalists. It stresses the importance of well-prepared planning before taking assignments in dangerous missions and gives essential tools for journalists. The guide is useful for all those who work in news and information and who report from hostile environments, such as conflict zones, violent demonstrations, riots and terrorist attacks.

The first edition of the Safety Guide for Journalists was produced in 1992. Since then, it has been updated and translated into several languages and widely distributed. The new version, available in Arabic, English French and Spanish and, addresses new threats and challenges to an increasingly dangerous profession. The newly added chapters highlight the issue of digital safety, a growing worry for journalists, and elaborate on safety precautions for those covering natural disasters or epidemics. They also address the problem of sexual violence, aimed particularly at female journalists.

Journalists and news organizations are essential actors for the exercise of freedom of expression, making them targets for those who want to impose tight control on public debate and citizens’ right to information. With the new edition of the Guide, Reporters Without Borders and UNESCO continue their work within the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. Aimed at creating a free and safe environment for journalist and media workers, the UN Plan of Action was adopted the in April 2012 and confirmed by the UN General Assembly in November 2013. The publication of the new edition of the Safety Guide for Journalists was supported by Sweden

The Safety Guide for Journalists – A handbook for reporters can be accessed online in ArabicEnglishFrench and Spanish.

Source: UNESCO.



The IAWRT Asian Women’s Film Festival will be held from 3 – 5 March 2016, in New Delhi. Curated by Umadevi N.Tanuku and Aradhna Kohli, it showcases works by women directors of Asian origin, and shows work ranging from animation, to documentary, experimental, short fiction and fiction features.

It is held every year around International Women’s Day

The festival was launced in 2005 and has grown in strength and popularity with film makers coming from all over the world to participate. The festival has travelled to many Indian cities and selections have been screened at other festivals like Birds Eye View Film Festival 2011, London, International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala 2011 and Vasakh Festival, Lahore 2012.

This year, films from Bangladesh, Iran, Israel, Japan, Myanmar, the Philippines, South Korea, Syria, Taiwan, Turkey, the UK and Vietnam will be shown. The general program selection is available here. The festival also includes an audio component called Soundfiles. 2016 selection here. Entries for Soundfiles have been on the rise,since it was established three years ago, which clearly recognises the importance of radio. The festival also provides a platform for showcasing art, and invites artists to host exhibitions.