Safety of women journalists discussed at the 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women

Women’s rights activists joined the call to action, advocating the protection of women in media from politically motivated and gender-based attacks in the Philippines in the ongoing 68th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women in New York.

“Women in media do find common cause with the plight of the larger community of women in the country, as many are working with low pay, without benefits, and no hazard pay. They are also offered hardly any protection and safe reporting mechanisms from gender-based attacks in the course of their work, contributing to the stigma in seeking accountability from perpetrators,” said Lynda Catindig-Garcia, chapter head of IAWRT Philippines.

During the event, IAWRT Philippines and the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC) led the discussion on the safety of women in media, per the findings of their 2023 and 2024 research funded by International Media Support (IMS) and the British Embassy Manila through the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF), respectively.

Therese San Diego Torres, IAWRT Philippines secretary, said that while most of the journalists say that such threats and attacks have not prevented them from pursuing a story, “some admitted that there is indeed a chilling effect that may lead to self-censorship, as such experiences make them hesitate and think twice before pursuing or publishing a story.”

Torres, who also sits as Research, Policy, and Advocacy director of AIJC, said she was also able to interview journalists who prefer to cover war over politics because “they know where the bullets are coming from.”

(left to right) Edz Dela Cruz (Philippines), Najiba Ayubi (Afghanistan), Sheila Katzman (USA), Lynda Catindig-Garcia and Therese San Diego-Torres (Philippines).

Journalist Lady Ann Salem shared how the government wielded its power to silence women truth tellers in the Philippines. Meanwhile, multi-awarded television broadcast journalist Karen Davila, who is also the UN Women National Ambassador for Goodwill, shared how she was subjected to online harassment such as trolling under the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

IAWRT Afghanistan chapter head Najiba Ayubi and IAWRT USA chapter head Sheila Katzman also shared how the Philippine experience resonates with theirs.

The in-person parallel event was held at the Chapel of the Church Center for the United Nations on March 19, 2024.

The co-organizers of the in-person parallel event are IAWRT, IAWRT USA, IAWRT Afghanistan, the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC), the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law, and Development (APWLD), and Gabriela New York.