GROS-ISLET, St Lucia — Journalists from around the region last week participated in a two-day workshop to tackle gender bias and human rights in their practices.
The workshop, held at Rodney Bay here, was organised by the Caribbean Association of Feminist Research and Action (CAFRA) under the theme “Integration of a Gender Lens and Human Rights Focus in Journalistic Practice.”
The objective of the two-day workshop was to prepare journalists and news media managers to be more aware of gender issues with the aim of creating more sensitive, balanced and rights-based reporting which will result in a more just and socially conscious society.
“The workshop focused exclusively on senior professionals, presidents of media associations as well as gatekeepers who are editors and persons who represent the editors in their respective media houses,” said Flavia Cherry, regional chairperson for CAFRA.
“It was a very special initiative; the intention was to help to integrate a gender lens in journalistic practice. So we're hoping that with the training there will be a more human rights-based approach to reporting, especially on a gender basis.”
Participating countries in the workshop included Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Dominica, Curaçao, St Vincent, St Lucia, Grenada and Suriname.
The workshop looked at understanding gender and the impact of gender stereotyping in the media; concepts of sexual health and rights; confronting biases; gender-sensitive reporting in media and implications of reinforcing culture and norms which promote discrimination from a human rights perspective.
It featured presenters such as Cherry, Jacqueline Massiah, Patricia Modeste, Tara Leonard, Nadine Constantine and Jamaican Hilary Nicholson.
One participant, Wesley Gibbings, president of the Association of Caribbean MediaWorkers (ACM), said he was happy to be part of the workshop, underscoring that as part of its mandate, the ACM focuses heavily on human rights issues, freedom of expression and press freedom.
But he noted that it is very difficult to make a distinction between the essential human rights issues that are involved in matters of gender in the Caribbean without making reference to the fact that there is a whole menu of human rights that generally needs to be addressed.
“For example, on the question of gender equality and gender rights, you have tied in there the whole question of equality and equity in our societies. I think one of the roles of the free press is to promote a notion of social justice and equal opportunities for women, equity among women in our societies, and we are very much a part of that,” he said.
The workshop also looked at the need for comprehensive sexuality education in schools across the region and an introduction to the Caribbean Right Here Right Now (RHRN) platform which will operate in eight countries — Curaçao, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St Lucia, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.
The Caribbean RHRN platform is expected to facilitate an intersectional and multi-sectoral approach to work premised on diversity, inclusiveness, youth participation and gender equality.