“I Will Not Stay Silent” – Women in News at ARIJ

“I Will Not Stay Silent”, a message of empowerment and support for survivors rang out at last week’s Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) annual forum.

For the past two weeks, Women in News (WIN) participated at the ARIJ 13th annual forum – held online for the first time. 

Breaking the glass ceiling in news rooms

“The glass ceiling is when the society limits women and deprives them from reaching decision-making positions. It can also be the double burden of working and having to take care of the family at the same time,” said Dr. Mona Magdy, WIN’s senior manager of knowledge and research in the Arab region, during a WIN hosted workshop on gender-balance in the news. Magdy advised:
1) Efforts to improve gender balance should not be on an individual level, but on an organisational level. 
2) There should be social awareness of the importance of gender balance in media organisations. 
3) Gender balance should be included on a strategic level in the organization.

Eliminating sexual harassment from media organisations 

During the panel ‘Combating Harassment – Abuse and misuse of power inside the Arab media industry’, panelists discussed the issue of sexual harassment against women journalists. 200 attendees heard from WIN’s Regional Director for the Arab Region, Fatemah Farag, along with ARIJ General Director, Rawan Damen; Director of Media Partnerships for Facebook and Instagram in the Middle East, Africa & Turkey, Fares Akkad; IWMF’s Deputy Director, Nadine Hoffman; and Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist, and MENA Regional Manager for SAFE, IREX, Aya Mhanna.

“Online bullies do not allow typical social behaviours and norms to interfere with their bullying. They breach these social norms and become insensitive bullies because they feel immune when they are hidden behind a screen,” said Akkad during the panel. This creates added pressure on journalists who already face challenges in their newsrooms, Mhanna raised, which highlights the importance of providing psychological support to journalists in the Arab Region, where they are faced with a lot of challenges. 

To play a part in providing solutions, the “I Will Not Stay Silent” Coalition – made up of the organisations represented on the panel – was launched. As part of the Coalition, WIN will bring its leadership in sexual harassment training for journalists and media organisations particularly in the Arab Region to 1000 journalists. During the announcement Hoffman stressed that sexual harassment is “a press freedom issue and a safety issue” and added that “this initiative will provide a holistic support to try and solve the problem of sexual harassment.” 

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