Sexual Harassment Research​

WAN-IFRA Women in News and City, University of London conducted a major research study into sexual harassment in the media workplace in 20 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Arab Region, Southeast Asia, Central America and Russia. This study builds on research done in 2018 which identified a gap in available data on sexual harassment in media specifically in these regions.

The study, which was carried out from November 2020 to September 2021, surveyed more than 2,000 individuals and included interviews with 85 senior executives. 

The research is available online through an interactive site that allows users to break data down by region, country, gender, type of harassment as well as by management response. The website is available in nine languages.

Key Findings

Results show that on average, 41% of women journalists have experienced verbal or physical sexual harassment in the workplace. Yet only 1 in 5 reported the incident. Though less prevalent, men have not been spared with an average of 12% experiencing verbal and/or physical harassment. On average 30% of journalists experienced verbal and/or physical harassment.

80% of sexual harassment cases are unreported. This is largely due to fear – fear of negative impact, fear of losing their job, fear of not being believed, and fear of retaliation. In addition, on average one in four respondents said they did not report their experience of harassment because their organisation lacked the mechanism to do so and/or they did not know how. Only 11% of respondents reported knowing whether their organisations even had a sexual harassment policy. 

Of the few cases that are reported, action is taken by the organisation in only half of the cases and is most commonly limited to warning the perpetrator (41%). 

Research numbers also show that experiences of sexual harassment were overwhelmingly perpetrated by fellow employees (39%) or management (19% higher Management and 18.9% direct supervisor).

85 executives, including 51 women, from media organisations in the five regions were interviewed as part of the qualitative research. 43.5% acknowledged that they themselves experienced sexual harassment – similar to the findings reported by women journalists. Yet only 27% of these same executives believe that it is still an issue in the industry.

For more information

Read interview with lead researcher Lindsey Brumell

Lead Researcher Dr Lindsey Blumell provides insight into the results, and highlights what media organisations and leaders can do to make the workplace safe for all.


– To better understand and raise awareness about the extent of the problem of sexual harassment in the media industry in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Arab Region and Southeast Asia

– To contribute to global data on sexual harassment in the media industry, by filling these regional data gaps

– To enable informed, evidence-based responses to sexual harassment in the media industry

WAN-IFRA Women in News has been working to increase gender equality and tackle sexual harassment within the media industry in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Arab Region for over ten years. City University of London has an extensive background in research on gender related issues within the media industry. In 2019, they carried out research on sexism and sexual harassment in the media in Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria. This is a collaboration between both institutions, combining their expertise on the issue and work in the region.

Background to the study

This study stems from previous research that was conducted by WIN in early 2018 on a small sample of 119 media professionals in 9 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Arab Region. WIN surveyed its participants and media partners on sexual harassment, in particular, detail related to policies on sexual harassment in the workplace and personal experiences related to sexual harassment, among others. 

Following findings to this survey, WIN published its first sexual harassment toolkit: Sexual harassment in the media: A practical guide for employers and employees. The toolkit includes a handbook on how to identify and deal with sexual harassment as an employer or an employee, a sample sexual harassment policy and procedures, a poster and a sample survey.

Based on its previous survey, WIN noted that there is a large gap in data about the prevalence of sexual harassment in the media industry. Data about sexual harassment in the news media industry that does exist is predominantly focused on the Global North and there is very little credible and comparable data for Sub-Saharan Africa, the Arab Region or Southeast Asia. The results of WIN’s own surveys were stark. Used in the Sexual Harassent Toolkit and WIN trainings, existing data has been fundamental in convincing media organisations and professionals in both regions to acknowledge a problem and to engage on the issue of sexual harassment. 

Research focus

1- Media professionals’ experiences of sexual harassment, reagrless of their gender or hierarchy

2- Media organisations’ perceptions of the extent of problem of sexual harassment

Geographical scope

Africa: Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Arab Region: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon

Southeast Asia: Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Vietnam


Survey of media professionals: An anonymous 10-15 minute survey. The survey will focus on media professionals’ experiences of sexual harassment in the media industry. It is targeted at all media professionals regardless of their gender or hierarchy or whether or not they have experienced sexual harassment in the past. It is being distributed by media organisations and regional and national media associations or industry partners. Survey links for the different regions/countries and languages are as follows:

Sub-Saharan Africa Sexual Harassment Survey: 

The Southeast Asia survey is available in multiple languages:





You can pre-register to participate in the Arab Region Sexual Harassment Survey when it comes available later this year:

Interviews: Semi-structured interviews with media executives focusing on their perceptions about the problem of sexual harassment. Findings will be anonymised and no organisation will be named.


Findings will be presented in a report published at the end of 2020. The data will also be open access and made available to the public download.

If you are interested in possible partnerships on this research or simply finding out more please contact Molly Chimhanda