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Amplifying Women’s Voices in Media Around the World

United for News is launching an initiative to shatter the unacceptably low percentage of women featured in news media - currently at 24%.

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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Women are only seen, heard, or read about in media 24% of the time around the world on average, a rate that has not changed in a decade. United for News aims to shatter this unacceptable anachronism and change the world of journalism. Imagine a world where women are featured in the news as experts across fields of expertise in the same numbers as men. Imagine the change in how women are perceived in society and how girls envision their futures. Not only will elevating women’s voices help bring women everywhere greater prosperity, it will contribute ideas and perspectives often left out of public debate which our important to the overall peace and well-being of communities. The factors driving exclusion of women’s voices in media are complex and include local culture, newsroom intransigence, the pace of the news cycle, scarcity in access to experts, and women’s own discomfort with media. United for News proposes a series of market-based interventions, led by a coalition of leading industry brands, to address each of these challenges and transform newsrooms' sourcing supply chains. Current partners include Bloomberg LP, Edelman, the BBC, the World Association of Newspapers, and the World Economic Forum. Work will begin with a pilot program in three countries (i.e. Kenya, Mexico, Canada) involving a challenge to media to diversify their sources, along with a toolkit to help them be successful. Tools will address both the demand and supply side barriers to gender-equal sourcing. On the demand side we envision working closely with news teams to analyze their current sourcing practice and establish baselines. We will help newsrooms set achievable goals and customize tools to track their progress. On the supply side this program will develop locally relevant expert databases sustained through media training for women. Key brand partners and operational steps are already in place, awaiting the capital necessary to execute.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

The core beneficiaries of this initiative are women and girls. If highly skilled women are heard, seen, and read about in news as much as men the impact on equity will be unparalleled. Not only will the media coverage of women’s voices provide healthy role models for scores of women and girls, the coverage will normalize the role of women as equal actors in the world. Societies also benefit. Women care, talk, and write about ideas differently than their male counterparts. They bring an important worldview that can shape the directions of policies around critical global issues, particularly in the categories where they are traditionally left out such as science, technology, and the economy. We seek to recruit as participants the top five media in each country, thus reaching a majority of each country's population. The pilot phase includes an impact study to assess the effectiveness of the approach and toolkit as we help media achieve parity in the gender of sources.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

While there are initiatives addressing parts of the puzzle, there is no comprehensive effort to bring together a holistic solution encompassing both the supply and demand sides of this major challenge. There are initiatives for expert lists and databases, others that train women to be interview ready, and others that appeal to media. All these efforts are important but what we have repeatedly heard through interviews with leading organizations working in this space is the necessity for a solution that brings all the pieces together, to truly transform newsrooms' sourcing supply chain. They have also expressed great enthusiasm for a coalition approach that leverages top consumer and media brands to influence a systemic culture shift throughout the industry.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Prototype: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

United for News is a global, multi stakeholder coalition led by Internews, an international media development nonprofit, in partnership with the World Economic Forum.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

This initiative is inspired by Bloomberg’s commitment to diversity and Internews' focus on gender-equity throughout its programs worldwide. Bloomberg has prioritized the inclusion of women in leadership, as well as in the content they produce, requiring each of their newsrooms to increase the percentage to which they source female experts. Internews has worked to advance women in media for three decades, and launched in 2018 a new, gender equality and women's empowerment strategy.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Societies prosper when all people have access to high quality news and information that reflect the diversity of their communities. Peace is built when people feel their views and experiences are included in local and national media, and when they are exposed to the disparate experiences and opinions of their neighbors. By increasing the extent to which women are sourced as subject matter experts in news media around the world, we will give women a greater opportunity to raise the issues and needs they feel are critical. Equal inclusion in local and national debate has the power to not only foster social equity, it can foster economic prosperity for women and their families and facilitate greater understanding of women's experience by the community.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

This initiative takes a human centered design approach, enlisting local expertise and ownership in the program. In each pilot market we will recruit local media development practitioners and lead focus groups with newsrooms to refine the approach and toolkit and set custom goals. This project also builds on Internews' local networks supporting women in media in more than 70 countries. United for News' coalition partners are contributing strategic guidance and key elements to the project. Bloomberg and the 50:50 project are lending best practices for newsroom policy adoption and technology adaptations. Edelman is helping on the supply side sponsoring media training for female experts. GFMD and WAN IFRA are leveraging their media networks. The Forum will challenge consumer brands to put more female spokeswomen forward as sources for media. Internews Case Studies:

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

The individuals that chair our coalition are incredibly determined to help this initiative succeed and are themselves leaders in promoting gender equity within and beyond their own organizations. The initiative draws on decades of experience in media development from Internews, GFMD and WAN IFRA. The World Economic Forum's resources also give this program a unique advantage. Furthermore, in our pilot markets there is mounting interest, energy and talent around gender equality in media.

Geographic Focus

This is a global initiative, piloting in three countries to start (i.e. Kenya, Columbia, Canada)

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

The initial pilot program is planned for twelve months, with plans to scale the program to additional markets over the subsequent twenty-four months. (36 months in total)

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


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