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World Radio Day 2014: Gender equality and Women Empowerment

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unesco representativeAs published in Voice of Vietnam on 13 February 2014

Since 2011, the date of February 13th, the day the UN radio was established, has been endorsed as the World Radio Day. It aims is not only to celebrate radio as a medium but also to enhance international cooperation amongst broadcasters. This year, the event will highlight gender equality and women empowerment. On this occasion, we’ll bring you an interview with Ms. Katherine Muller-Marin, Head of UNESCO office in Hanoi, on the importance of the day.

1. Why has UNESCO endorsed Feb.13th as the World Radio Day?

We want to make sure that we are celebrating the World Radio Day because it reaches everybody. It gives equal opportunities for people to receive information. It also provides opportunities for people to speak when they are interviewed by journalists. They can raise their voices. It reaches remote areas. There are low cost, very low cost radios; that are very important. Radio has been used for many achievements. For example, it helps illiterate people. You can give illiteracy classes through radios. You can help save lives through radios when there is any emergency, any typhoons, or a disaster for example. So radio has many uses so in UNESCO and the United Nations we want to make sure that radio is kept alive among us and people continue using radios. That’s why we celebrate that day.     

2. Why does this year’s World Radio Day focus on gender equality and women empowerment?

Radio is very important tool to promote gender equality and empower women, exactly, because it reaches everybody and you can send adequate messages. For example, nowadays we have statistics to show that less than one fourth of the stories on radio are about women. We need to have equality, more stories about women so that women can identify themselves more in radio programs. What we say is that without the voices of more than half of the world population which is women, how can we get the whole story. We are getting the story only of men. We also see that less than one third of women are in management positions. For example, in the media field, we want to use the radio to promote women, to help them to be encouraged to take up more positions, to talk to men as well to value that women can be very good managers. Women are detailed managers and they can really become a support in equality with men. It’s also because Vietnam is promoting gender equality. There are many reasons for that. For example, a woman that is better educated can educate better their children. A woman that has better information on health will make sure that the family is healthier. If a woman can understand correctly about nutrition, the children will grow up well and well nourished. If the woman has access to good education and can have an adequate position, they’ll raise the income in their households. So really not clearing up opportunities for women is not a good deal in a country like Vietnam. You have the experience of how the women fought during the wars, you have experiences of how the women work in the fields, they work very hard. We need to give opportunities for these women, to put that energy and that power to be part of political life, to be part of management, to be part of the working field, and also to develop themselves as individuals to be happier women, women with more opportunities. And that’s something that Vietnam is already promoting and we want to make sure that radio is part of that activity.

 3. What has UNESCO done to assist Vietnam in gender equality?

We are doing several things. One of them is to develop gender mainstreaming guidelines for reporters to use. It means a guide for reporters to say. For example, how am I using the gender stereotype? When I’m talking, for example, to children and I’m giving them a story and I say the mother is cooking and the father is on the chapter. I’m generating a stereotype and reinforcing them. When I talk on the radio, or the media, I can also say when is your father cooking? So I need to have the journalists and the media experts use these guidelines so they can generate gender equality throughout the work they do. The guidelines have been tested and validated. We’ve produced the guidelines for the Asia Pacific region and specific for Vietnam.  We really need to encourage that more journalists will use these guidelines.

We are also working on capacity building of the journalists to use the guidelines and do the gender-mainstreaming. What we are doing now is to check how the messages are increasing with using gender-mainstreaming in the messages that are coming out. More messages are coming out for women.

4. What else is UNESCO doing for Vietnam?

We are also doing on capacity building of teachers to work with children. This is important because we start changing the generation from when they are small, thinking in a different way.

We’re working on something that is going global, meaning many countries around the world are using it which is the gender-sensitive indicators for media. This is basically a checklist that we agreed upon that helps the journalists to identify issues that show easily equality. For example, the number of women in management, that is an indicator. What kind of number do we want? We want to promote there’s an increase, for example in the next year in at least 10% of women in management or 20% or 30%. That includes training women to be able to achieve these positions and opening up the mentality to give them these opportunities. Another indicator is for example but I mentioned before, equal stories about men and women in the radio. Another indicator is equal treatment and recognition of the capacity of women and men in workplace.

These indicators show if we are reaching the goals or not. Because we can’t say I’m going to promote gender equality – how do I measure, how do I have evidence that you are reaching gender equality. So indicators are basically something to let me know that I have achieved something that I set down to do. These are the main things we are working on now.

5. As a successful woman, can you give Vietnamese women including female reporters some advice to get real gender equality and more power?

As a woman I definitely have never felt the fact that I’m a woman. When I’m working with men I have never felt the fact that I’m not equal. Probably because I myself feel that I’m equal and I’m going to have a position, now I’m representing the UNESCO, I’m not thinking about women or men. I only think I’m prepared to do it if I have the capacity, if I have the personality, if I have the energy, if I have a push. If I do, it doesn’t matter if I’m a woman or a man. It’s about me taking the space and making that space mine.  I really think I have to do with the behaviors at home. I have three sons and a husband and they all cook, they all do house works because ever since they were small, they were treated as something natural, as an equal behavior. Why should the women do all the works at home? Why should the women do all cleaning, all the cooking? The woman has the rights to have space for herself, to be able to enjoy life, to be able to learn, to do all studies, to know all about other things. There should be equality in these, right? That happens depending on your own behaviors to try to eliminate stereotype in your life. I hope there will be more men journalists interested in promoting gender equality. We really need to develop personality of women so they can fill in these spaces in equality with men and be able to have opportunities to develop and to enjoy themselves as well.

Thank you for granting VOV the interview.




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