Concerns raised over safety of women in Sri Lankan media

Sunday, 1 March 2020

The Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) in collaboration with the UNESCO New Delhi office inaugurated a two-day workshop “Women in Media and Safety” with an aim to promote the safety of women journalists in the country.

The workshop held at the Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel was designed to build capacity of women journalists working in the field and and also focused on other key aspects of safety like harassment in the workplace and online safety.

The event was inaugurated by an eminent panel comprising Eric Falt, Director and UNESCO Representative, New Delhi, Kumar Nadesan, Chairperson SLPI, Dr P. N. Meegaswatte, Secretary General, Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO and senior journalist-activist Seetha Ranjani. The workshop will be attended by 20 women journalists from across various media outlets based in Colombo.

“A timely intervention,” as pointed by Kumar Lopez, CEO, SLPI, the workshop has been designed to understand the key challenges faced by women media practitioners in their line of duty as well as adapt a solution-based approach towards strengthening press freedom and gender representation in the newsroom. “There is a need to understand the problems better. This platform also gives us the opportunity to do a needs-based analysis,” said Kumar.

A pioneer in journalism and media education, Nadesan explained the current Sri Lankan media landscape. “Though the situation has bettered in the last one decade, we need to follow closely. Not just women, men journalists are also at risk. It concerns us all,” he said as he pointed out the global statistics that 19 per cent of journalists killed worldwide in the last three-four years, have been women.

While emphasising the United Nations’ resolve to promote gender equality and strengthen the freedom of expression, Falt said in his inaugural address that UNESCO, in line with the Sustainable Development Goal 5—eliminating violence against women journalists—is committed towards building capacity of women media practitioners. “At UNESCO, we believe that gender equality in the media sector is a critical precondition for press freed om. This workshop is a testimony of our commitment to promote capacity development of women journalists who are at the centre of our development narrative. It also contributes to the Agenda 2030, addressing the global resolve of ensuring women’s participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic and public life,” he said.