IAWRT Biennial November 2017

Broadcasting and Social Justice: Women in the Media on Conflict and Crisis.

IAWRT’s 2017 Biennial is to be held in the Philippines from 9 November to 11 November 2017. It will be held in Quezon City, the largest city in Metro Manila.

IAWRT-Philippines  wants the conference to be a dialogue between local organizations and movements which are women-led, or involve substantial female participation, and women in media from all over the world.(pic: Some of our hosts; photographed by Jo Maline Manangum; courtesy of Kodao Productions)

The Biennial planning committee chaired by the IAWRT Treasurer, Violet Gonda, and international board members, Iphigénie Marcoux Fortier and Abeer Saady are working with the IAWRT-Philippines chapter to finalize details, and early registrations have begun. The agenda will include timely presentations on challenges for Philipino women journalists, women covering wars on terrorism, and women in the media covering disasters.

IAWRT President Gunilla Ivarsson says the board felt the Philippines was a very natural choice – “IAWRT-Philippines has done a very good job with restarting and rebuilding the local chapter. It is very active, creative and the members do their work with great credibility and responsibility”.

“One of IAWRT’s most exciting recent activities is happening in the Philippines where the chapter and its head, Jola Diones-Mamangum, is working on the mobile disaster response radio project - also a good reason for conferencing in the Philippines” she said.

The head of IAWRT-Philippines says, “more than three years of rebuilding the chapter is bringing together a committed group of broadcasters whose journalism tries to bring under-reported issues to the fore.”  Jola wants to show the world the situation for the media and women in the Philippines and that will be the theme of  the 3 day conference.

“The Philippines prides itself as Asia’s first republic and as a democracy with a vibrant press and mass media sector.  Beneath the veneer of an inclusive society, however, are festering issues” she says.

“Poor women lead the fight in occupying vacant government housing as well as vast tracts of land in the control of landlords.  In other parts of the country, women ‘contractual’ workers die in factory fires without government attempts to even list down their names.  In disaster-hit areas, women bear the brunt of problems brought about by government inaction on forced relocation, joblessness, sexual and human trafficking and the lack of social services.”

Jola says one of the most urgent issues to highlight is the approach to news by the corporate media. “Struggles by women for social justice meet with vitriolic campaigns in dominant mass media outfits and on social media.  It is a state of affairs that compels Filipino women broadcasters in radio and television to continuously redefine their journalism to better serve marginalized sectors in society, not the least of whom are poor women.”  

“We want to make the biennial event a showcase for the positive work that women in the media can do – as well as to recruit more members in both mainstream and alternative media -  through increasing the chapter’s profile.”

While the conference is still in planning stages, proposed topics include media and women and social justice; gender-based conflict reportage; women in natural disasters and in revolution and Islamophobia in international reportage.

Time has been set aside to screen or feature media productions, including this year’s IAWRT documentary - Velvet Revolution.  The IAWRT board has heard comments from members coming to the biennial, that they want to have more time for screenings.(pic: veteran Philippines joirnalist Inday Espina Varona, featured in Velvet Revolution)

An entire day will be dedicated to organizational development. The IAWRT President says the 2017 Biennial will be a bit special, “since we really must make the time to work on our internal development - modernizing the election process, conducting a strategic workshop around the upcoming evaluation report through FOKUS, and doing some creative and strategic thinking around fundraising and the Gender Mainstreaming Project.”

Gunilla says the board is hoping to be able to sponsor more participants than normal to raise the number of members attending to discuss IAWRT’s future.”

However, such funding is still limited and the President urges members to start looking now for local sponsorship to help them attend the biennial. “Funders want something in return - so why not offer to organize a workshop/panel when you come back home -in return for the sponsorship - sharing the insights and the work and projects that we are doing.”

Another funding opportunity could be from your own employers, for journalists who convince their bosses to send them to report on the  ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) summit in Manilla. That world event from the 10 -14 November 2017, is expecting the leaders of China, the US, Russia, India, Japan and Australia to attend.

So arrive early, and attend the IAWRT biennial as well. See you there in November ! contact secretariat@iawrt.org for more detals.