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Abu Dhabi to host Arab Women Media Forum

posted on 21/01/2002: 1483 views

Delegates representing women organisations in Arab states, Academic researchers, media corporate representatives, media women practitioners and regional and international organisations would participate in the Arab Women Media Forum (AWMF) to be held in Abu Dhabi on Feb.2 and 3.

Convened as a sequel to the Arab Women's Day celebration on Feb.1, the AWMF is being organised jointly by the UAE General Women's Union, the Arab League General Secretariat, The National Women's Council (Egypt) and A Hariri Foundation Lebanon).

AWMF is one of a series of multi-topic forums endorsed by the Extraordinary Arab Women summit held in November 2000 in Cairo.

The forum will feature intellectual and professional discussions of issues relating to women images in the mass media and the potential role of Arab women as media practitioners, according to the organisers.

Papers presented at the forum will address topics ranging from women media stereotypes, social and cultural hindrances to women media careers and the use by women of new communication and information technologies as empowerment tools.

The forum will also feature presentations of professional women on their experiences in the media and a discussion of a draft women media code of ethics. Delegations representing women's organisations will submit national reports detailing the status of women in their respective countries engaged in media work.

The objectives of the AWMF would be to discuss the image of the Arab women in the print, broadcast and interactive media of communication around the Arab world, the realities of media women careers and the obstacles inhibiting the realisation of full women participation as media practitioners and the social, cultural and professional factors which contribute to the perpetuation of women stereotypes in the communication media.

The forum would also focus on Arab feminist media discourse in the light of cultural, social and technological developments and draft a media code of ethics for Arab women.

The main themes at the AWMF are: "Arab women media images and stereotypes," "Women as media practitioners: opportunities and challenges," "Professional experiences of Arab women media practitioners" and "A draft code of ethics for Arab women."

Despite the remarkable breakthroughs achieved by Arab women in the media and communications sectors, there is still a huge gap in active female representation either in women-addressed media contents or in the professional practice of media work in broadcast and print media organisations.

Some studies have attributed this enduring "divide" to the dominance of traditional misconceptions of women's role in modern life at general societal or media levels. Researchers have noted that Arab women are objectified, stereotyped and commodified by the media, especially television, often presented as a consumerist force with no intellectual or decision-making potential.

Women have also been victims of media misrepresentations in countries where Western media models have been instituted. In addition to highlighting women in urban areas to the exclusion of those in the rural areas, media seem to have fallen short of delving into the real social, economic and cultural factors that inhibit women participation in modern life, a preliminary document issued prior to the AWMF says.

Arab world discussions of the issue of "women and media" have gone parallel to global debates on this subject as noted in the proceedings and provisions of a series of international conferences and declarations from the mid-1970s to the Beijing conference in 2000. Media stereotyping of women was one of the 12 critical areas identified by the Beijing Declaration and Platform of action.

It was noted that media representation of women's roles contributed considerably to the perpetuation of negative gender stereotypes. The declaration called for utilising new information technologies to promote women interests and for opening up media management careers for women around the world.

Other international women-related activities have been noted in the programmes of action adopted by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (Instraw) as well as in conferences held in Copenhagen (1980) and Nairobi (1985). (The Gulf Today)


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