We, members, allies and partners of African Women in Media:
Recognise that African media have the power to shape narratives and inform public knowledge. Therefore, Africa as a continent has the capacity to tell its own stories and promote the notion of a violence-free continent.
Concerned that gender-based violence in society and the workplace continues to impede progress towards gender equality,
Alarmed by the increasing rate of violent acts, including rape, femicide, harmful cultural practices, online and offline threats, harassment, surveillance, intimidation, smear campaigns, and many other acts of gender-based violence, recognizing the intersecting identities, including race, tribe, ethnicity, disability, socio-economic status, religion, and political affiliation,
Recognizing the urgent need for principles to guide news and information media in their coverage of gender-based violence, and in adequately combating gender-based violence experienced by their staff in the line of duty,
Aware of the need for “media to examine the impact of gender role stereotypes which foster gender-based violence and inequalities, and how they are transmitted during the life cycle, and take measures to eliminate these negative images with a view to promoting a violence-free society” as stipulated in the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action,
Recognising that lack of gender-sensitive coverage can have adverse effects on the need to build an equitable and fair society,
Recalling commitments and recommendations in numerous international policy and legal instruments including: the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; the 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women; the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action; ILO Convention 190 which recognizes the right of every individual to ‘A world of work free from violence and harassment including gender-based violence’; the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; the 2003 Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights to the Rights of Women in Africa, and; Resolution 522 on Digital Violence Against Women in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights,
Aware of national policies and laws in various countries to end gender-based violence,
Noting the recommendations to promote non-stereotyped images of women and men, as well as eliminate patterns of media presentation that generate, glamourize and normalize violence, and encourage those responsible for media content to establish professional guidelines and codes of conduct; also the role of media to inform and educate people about the causes and effects of violence against women and to stimulate public debate on the topic (Beijing Platform for Action. para.125 j),
Recalling various actions for stakeholders (including national and international media systems, non-governmental organisations and media professional associations) to increase access and participation of women in decision-making and expression of views in and through conventional and new media, and to promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media,
We understand that women media workers, that is, all women working in the sector with or without remuneration, freelancers and informal workers working without contracts, are often subjected to gender-based violence while doing their work, in the form of sexist and misogynistic harassment in the workplace and society, threats, intimidation and attacks offline and online,
And are concerned about the impacts of such violence on media women’s enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression and the society’s right to know,
We remain acutely aware of the misogynistic trolling that women interviewed or featured in media stories about gender violence are subjected to and are concerned about the serious harms that media-enabled violence causes to girls and women.
Seeking to build on progress and the significant role that women in media associations and networks have played to effect change regarding the violence experienced by women in media,
We proclaim the following Declaration on the Elimination of Gender Violence in and through the Media in Africa by 2034, and call on the media owners, media decision-makers, media professionals, media organizations, media educators, civil society and researchers to adopt and promote it.
Discrimination against women is “any distinction, exclusion or restriction or any differential treatment based on sex and whose objectives or effects compromise or destroy the recognition, enjoyment or the exercise by women” as defined in the Maputo Protocol.
Gender-based violence (GBV) is a human rights violation that disproportionately affects women and girls. The Maputo Protocol defines gender-based violence against women as “all acts perpetrated against women which cause or could cause them physical, sexual, psychological, and economic harm, including the threat to take such acts; or to undertake the imposition of arbitrary restrictions on or deprivation of fundamental freedoms in private or public life in peace time and during situations of armed conflicts or of war”.
Gender stereotypes are caricatures of femininity and masculinity in a given cultural context. In media content, such stereotypes appear as unrealistic portrayals of women and men with exaggerated traits, attributes, roles and behaviours assigned to or expected of each. Examples include hyper-sexualized women, and macho men. Negative gender stereotypes tend to appear more often in media content than positive ones.
Intersectionality is the idea that social categorizations like race, class, and gender are interconnected, leading to overlapping systems of discrimination or privilege. This concept recognizes that individuals may face multiple layers of disadvantage or advantage based on various aspects of their identity. It highlights the need to understand the complex interplay of these factors rather than examining them in isolation.
Kigali. Declaration Principles
- GENDER-ETHICAL JOURNALISM: Media should commit to high quality and human rights-based journalism on gender-based violence and on issues that drive gender violence.
- FAIR BALANCED AND UNBIASED REPORTING: Media portrayal and representation of survivors and victims of gender-based violence should be professional, fair, accurate, balanced, unbiased, free of gender stereotypes and respectful of their right to human dignity.
- NON-DISCRIMINATORY COVERAGE: Media organizations should increase ethical coverage of all forms of gender violence against all women and girls regardless of ethnicity, social-economic status, race, ability and other distinctions.
- POLICIES AND TRAINING: Media organisations and all industry bodies should establish and implement policies, procedures and guidelines on conduct in the newsroom and coverage of content on violence against women and girls. They should provide training to foster meaningful implementation and monitoring of the guidelines.
- TAKE ACTION: Media organizations, associations, unions and journalism training institutions should condemn, address and combat sexual harassment and other forms of violence against women and girls in the physical and online workplace.
Recommendations and actions
Article 1. Minimum actions for media organizations
- 1.1 Commit to ensuring high quality reporting on GBV
- 1.1.1 Adopt specific guidelines on how to report on GBV in an ethical, fair, balanced, accurate and non-stereotypical manner
- 1.1.2. Centre the lived experiences of women directly affected by GBV in the stories
- 1.1.3. Ensure in-depth reporting and investigative journalism on topics related to GBV both in society and within media practices
- 1.1.4. Collaborate with women’s civil society and relevant stakeholders to monitor incidents of gender-based violence in order to inform content development and expert opinion on the topic
- 1.1.5. Incorporate transformative approaches to journalism such as solution-based, sustainable or ethical journalism.
- 1.1.6. Train and retrain all newsroom staff in ethical reporting of GBV
- 1.1.7. Establish a gender desk within media organisations.
- 1.1.8. Collaborate with academia on research
- 1.1.9. Focus on success stories to address GBV to advance understanding that perpetrators can change
- 1.2. Commit to ending all forms o GBV and discrimination in the workplace
- 1.2.1. Adopt and implement an impartial and transparent reporting and redress mechanisms on gender violence, including sexual and workplace harassment
- 1.2.2. Adopt clear systems for follow-up and clear review of reporting mechanisms on GBV
- 1.2.3. Adopt and implement zero-tolerance internal gender sensitive policies on sexual harassment and discrimination
- 1.2.4. Adopt clear policies outlining sanctions for perpetrators of sexual harassment and all other forms of GBV in the workplace
- 1.2.5. Ensure representativeness on the teams working on the policies and the reporting and redress mechanisms
- 1.2.6. Provide survivors of GBV in the workplace with protection and psycho social support
- 1.2.7. Ensure that all staff are trained on the internal gender violence mechanism and policies
- 1.2.8. Adopt a whistle-blowing policy
- 1.2.9. Commit to creating a non-threatening environment where everyone feels safe
- 1.2.10. Ensure equal gender representation in leadership
- 1.2.11. End gender wage discrimination and gender bias in career progression
- 1.2.12. Commit to carry out periodic audits, in collaboration with civil society groups and regulators, of the effectiveness of the GBV policies as well as the reporting and redress mechanisms on sexual harassment and violence against women in the workplace.
- 1.3 Developing women leaders
- 1.3.1. Establish in-house mentorship programs to support women’s career paths towards leadership positions.
- 1.4 Monitoring and accountability
- 1.4.1. Collaborate with civil society and tech stakeholders to monitor media output on gender-based violence in order to inform editorial policies and guidelines
- 1.4.2. Collaborate with civil society to monitor sexual harassment against women in the media workplace to inform organisational policy and actions
- 1.4.3. Make an explicit commitment to preventing and addressing gender based violence
- 1.4.4. Establish industry standards and monitoring mechanisms, including an independent compliance monitoring mechanism, with annual reporting obligations
- 1.4.5. Establish accountability mechanisms such as an independent advisory committee
- 1.4.6. Document the status of actions implementation for future reference and follow up.
- 1.4.7. Pressure associations to require compliance with industry gender policies, including anti-sexual harassment and anti-GBV policies.
Article 2. Minimum actions for media associations, unions and networks
- 2.1. Commit to professionalising handling of GBV by member organisations, individual journalists and content producers
- 2.1.1. Increase capacity of industry actors through training and resources to report and produce content on GBV with a gender-ethical approach
- 2.1.2. Develop, encourage adoption and monitor implementation of gender-ethical reporting guidelines on gender-based violence
- 2.2 Commit to ending GBV across the media industry
- 2.2.1. Develop and adopt a gender policy in every union and association
- 2.2.2. Develop reporting mechanisms on gender-based violence at the workplace and union secretariats
- 2.2.3. Establish a specific staff position or appoint anti-violence champions with responsibility to oversee implementation of the policy framework. Establish a two-tier reporting mechanism
- 2.2.4. Require media associations to report annually on their compliance status on industry gender, anti-sexual harassment and anti-GBV policies.
- 2.3. Monitoring and accountability
- 2.3.1. Collaborate with civil society stakeholders to monitor incidents of gender-based violence to inform policy and actions
Article 3. Minimum actions for journalists and other content producers
- 3.1. Policy compliance
- 3.1.1. Comply with institutional or industry gender-ethical editorial policies and reporting guidelines
- 3.2. Journalistic professionalism
- 3.2.1. Pursue professional development on gender-ethical reporting on GBV in order to professionalize practice, increase public awareness and reach new audiences
- 3.2.2. Commit to produce high-quality, gender-sensitive content on GBV
- 3.2.3. Collaborate with women’s civil society groups for expert opinion on the topic
- 3.2.4. Commit to portraying survivors and victims in an ethical, fair and balanced manner, free of gender stereotypes
- 3.2.5. Commit to desist from all portrayals that objectify or sexualize women across print, broadcast and digital media
- 3.2.6. Commit to desist from all portrayals that trivialize GBV against women across print, Broadcast and digital media
- 3.2.7. Follow up on reported stories to retain public attention with a view to contributing to ending GBV
Article 4. Minimum actions for journalism training institutions, media educators and researchers
- 4.1. Curricula and research agendas
- 4.1.1. Adopt gender responsive curricula (general)
- 4.1.2. Increase capacity among lecturers/tutors on the topic
- 4.1.3. Increase the number of female lecturers in the institutions.
- 4.1.4. Offer a topic on gender ethical GBV reporting in core course modules in journalism, media and communication study programmes.
- 4.1.5. Encourage students and other researchers to conduct independent studies in the identified under-researched areas related to GBV in media and journalism
- 4.1.6. Collaborate with civil society to build knowledge on GBV in and through media, applying content monitoring and other methodologies. Use the findings to contribute towards transformation of media practice
- 4.2. Organisational capacity
- 4.2.1. Adopt internal (workplace) gender policies and specific policies on sexual harassment at universities
- 4.2.2. Develop a monitoring and evaluation tool such as a scorecard or a barometer to measure performance of newsrooms.
- 4.3. Monitoring and accountability
- 4.3.1. Collaborate with civil society to build knowledge on GBV in and through media, applying content monitoring and other methodologies. Use the findings to contribute towards transformation of media practice
Article 5. Minimum actions for Media Development Organisations and Funders
- 5.1. Grants and funding
- 5.1.1. Provide funding and technical support to civil society stakeholders working to end GBV in and through the media
- 5.1.2. Provide funding support to media monitoring groups and observatories on studies to monitor media coverage of GBV
- 5.1.3. Provide unrestricted funding to support the wellbeing and mental health of practitioners
- 5.1.4. Provide grants to academic and training institutions, directed particularly to under-researched areas
- 5.1.5. Encourage and support grantees to adopt the Declaration
- 5.2. Technical Support
- 5.2.1. Support media organizations and associations to develop, implement and monitor implementation of editorial guidelines, institutional and industry policies on GBV
- 5.2.2. Support community, local, national and regional media initiatives that create awareness on GBV within their areas of operation and beyond
- 5.2.3. Support organisational surveys for progress assessment, including reflection spaces
- 5.2.4. Demonstrate thought leadership, setting minimum standards on GBV prevention
- 5.3. Monitoring and accountability
- 5.3.1. Collaborate with all stakeholders to monitor progress in professionalising the industry’s handling of GBV, in media workplaces and in the content produced. Collaborate with stakeholders to address gaps
Article 6. Minimum actions for digital and social media platforms
- 6.1. Platform standards and community guidelines
- 6.1.1. Strengthen guidelines to combat and address sexual harassment, misogyny and all other forms of gender-based violence against women and girls on the platforms
- 6.1.2. Invest resources for content moderation in more local languages
- 6.1.3. Assess moderation applications and processes to detect and address gaps in human rights following language in UNESCO’s human rights risk assessment framework
- 6.1.4. Establish mechanisms in collaboration with journalists and CSOs to address GBV on platforms
- 6.2. Capacity building and campaigns
- 6.2.1. Initiate or support campaigns, training and other initiatives targeting all users to address GBV on the platforms
- 6.3. Grants and funding
- 6.3.1. Provide funding support to civil society organizations engaged in initiatives to end online GBV
- 6.4. Monitoring and accountability
- 6.4.1. Ensure transparency on actions taken in keeping with the standards and guidelines
- 6.4.2. Support efforts to innovate human-centred tools to end GBV on the platforms.
- 6.4.3. Collaborate with civil society organizations to monitor and address GBV on the platforms
- 6.4.4. Establish mechanisms for cross-collaboration with other digital companies to monitor and address GBV across all platforms
- 6.4.5. Establish reporting mechanisms and expedited takedown of GBV content on the platforms.
Article 7. Minimum actions for regulators
- 7.1. Commit to the efficient, firm and fair enforcement of anti-GBV and anti-sexual harassment in media workplace policies
- 7.2. Commit to audit effectiveness of GBV policies and sexual harassment in the media workplace policies and procedures
7.3. Enforce regulatory sanctions against non-compliant media organizations with regard to the implementation of GBV and sexual harassment policies and procedures in the media workplace.