Malaysia, March 2019 – The European Union Delegation to Malaysia with Media4Democracy marked International Women’s Day 2019 by convening a cross-sectoral meeting in Kuala Lumpur considering actions that can be taken at the convergence of media support and strengthening of gender equality.
More than 20 women’s groups, civil society organisations and media stakeholders as well as international representatives came together to discuss how to act on recommendations from an extensive 2018 Media4Demcoracy assessment undertaken on behalf of the EU Delegation. The assessment showed that within Malaysia, as in many global contexts, media is and can be a powerful actor in (re)shaping, reproducing and changing societal norms and beliefs that can either restrict or empower women; as well as considering access to information and communications techncology (ICT) and information as a means of social, civil and economic empowerment for women and girls.
Participants made concrete suggestions for feasible means to improve media content by reducing negative gender-based stereotypes, such as broadening engagements with the Communication and Multimedia Content Forum of Malaysia (CMCF). Expanding media literacy courses with groups of identified partners – including government ministries — was supported as a means to increase women and girls’ access to information; and specific platforms for raising awareness for women and girls were identified to help expand access to training in and professional engagement with ICT were considered.
Concrete actions were identified to enhance women’s decision making roles and leadership in media organisations – something that is known to have a direct correlation on improving media content to address the needs and interests of women and reduce gender stereotypes. They included training iniatives and introduction of guidelines based in best practice and work with government and media sector institutions.
Participants also indicated intentions to further collaborate in efforts to give women in Malaysia voice without gender stereoypes, strengthen information and ICT access and other iniatives that will support the progress towards gender equality in Malaysia.