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Dhaka Tribune

Study: Only 2 female editors at over 500 Dhaka newspapers

Only 8% of stories that had bylines were by women, research says

Update : 29 Nov 2022, 10:11 PM

Only two of the editors of over 500 Dhaka newspapers are women, and women representation in newsroom leadership is very poor in Bangladeshi media, according to a recent study.

The study, titled "Gender representation in news media", is a media monitoring report done over seven days by the Dhaka-based Management and Resources Development Initiative (MRDI). 

Its findings were presented on Tuesday at an event, titled “Media and Gender Equality in Bangladesh”. The event was organized by the embassies of Sweden and the Netherlands, in partnership with University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB) and MRDI as part of a 16-day campaign against gender-based violence. 

The study reported that there are only two women holding top positions – as executive editor and chief news editor – at private TV channels.

Around 549 newspapers are published in Dhaka, said the research, adding that only two of them have female editors.

Eighteen media outlets were studied, and maternity leave, nighttime transport and separate hygienic facilities for women were found at 15 of them. 

Only 7% of the members of Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) are women, and only 13% of the members of Dhaka Sub-Editors Council are women, the report said.  

The study also found that only 8% of stories that had bylines were by women.

Speakers at the event said for Bangladesh to achieve gender equality, the policymakers, politicians, lawmakers, media outlet owners and professionals need to be on the same page regarding knowledge about the implementation of gender equality. 

They said addressing these global phenomena will support the people experiencing gender inequality without compromising media freedom. 

They added that gender-based policy enactment in the media needs to be reassessed. 

Ambassador of Sweden to Bangladesh Alexandra Berg von Linde said: “The media sector has an important role to play in breaking the silence towards violence against women and girls. Good journalism is gender sensitive and refrains from reinforcing gender stereotypes.

“It is important to emphasize how women are portrayed in the media if we want to break patterns of negative social norms while millions of girls and women are facing gender based violence everyday.”   

The Swedish ambassador said nearly one in three women have been abused in their lifetime. 

She also mentioned Sweden's standing commitment on working with gender equality and against gender-based violence both nationally and globally. 

Chargé d'Affaires Thijs Woudstra, deputy ambassador of the Netherlands to Bangladesh, said the media plays an important role in curbing violence. 

“I hope the situation will improve more in the future,” he said.  

“Stop victim blaming and stop using sexist and discriminatory language,” he added. 

Hasibur Rahman, executive director of MRDI, talked about the organization's five-year plan to change the mindset of people to curb gender-based violence.  

Prof Jude William Genilo, head of ULAB's media studies and journalism department, said: “We saw that in Bangladesh, male students are given preference over women, especially when they enter university. Therefore, if we look at the admissions of the university, we have made strides so that there will be gender parity."   

“We had to offer some schemes and mechanisms to attract more women students. We are also concerned about the progression of women in our university because they need a lot of support,” he added. 

Prof Gitiara Nasreen of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication of Dhaka University lauded the commitment of ULAB to ensuring gender equality.    

Among others, DU Prof Kaberi Gayen, Associate Prof Dr Umme Busra Fateha Sultana, journalist and researcher Qurratul-Ain Tahmina, Dhaka Tribune Executive Editor Reaz Ahmad, Talat Mamun, executive director, Channel 24, Shaheen Anam, executive director, Manusher Jonno Foundation, Ishrat Jahan Urmi, senior reporter, DBC, Shima Moslem, joint general secretary, Bangladesh Mohila Parishad, journalist Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul, and Angur Nahar Monty, coordinator, Women Journalist Network Bangladesh, were also present.

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