September 30, 2015

Gender Sensitive Code of Ethics for Media


Keeping in mind the need of the time White Ribbon has conducted yearlong consultative engagement with media houses and practitioners’ across country. Based on the recommendations from journalists a gender sensitive code of ethics has been derived and launched.

The following guidelines apply to both the print and electronic media and to all the programs, including news. The purpose is to make media more gender sensitive. The guidelines are directed to the people in production, decision-makers, amongst others.

Basic Principles

  • Media practitioners are required to seek and acquire information on gender issues. They should keep abreast of gender debates/issues.
  • Media coverage should be balanced, fair and inclusive of both sexes.
  • Media organizations must ensure a diverse range of female perspectives included in all stories, including politics, economics and war.
  • Media headlines, news highlights, pictures, audio and graphics should guard against over simplifying and reporting gender issues out of context.
  • Media organizations should organize training programs to improve media professionals’ understanding of current and emerging gender issues and its various manifestations.

 Mainstreaming Gender in Media Coverage

  • Media organizations must ensure balance of women and men as sources, experts, authorities and commentators on a wide range of issues debated in the media.
  • Media should give equal importance to the achievements of both men and women.
  • Media must be pro-active in sourcing male voices in non-traditional areas and roles. Men and women should be portrayed in a wide range of roles, both traditional and non-traditional, in paid work, social, family and leisure activities. Men and women should both be seen as taking decisions to support the family and in household tasks and home management.
  • Efforts must be taken to increase the number of programs on gender specific topics as well as programs challenging gender stereotypes.

 Accountability and Impartiality

  • Media practitioners should act responsibly at all times. Media houses should have policies that encourage reporting on gender issues.
  • Public officials, regardless of sex and social standing, should be held accountable for their actions. Gender should not be accorded undue emphasis in coverage on the abuse of power.
  • Judgmental words and phrases should be avoided. Only the facts should be given.
  • Media practitioners should be courageous and challenge stereotypes without fear.

Gender Stereotyping

  • Media professionals should use gender sensitive language.
  • Media practitioners should not be permitted to report stories provoking hatred based on particular gender, and which constitutes incitement to cause harm.
  • Sources should be treated equally and with respect, regardless of their sex and class. The rights of all should be upheld all times.

 Coverage of Gender Based Violence

  • Media organizations and practitioners should ensure that the identity of rape victims and victims of sexual violence is not published without the consent of the victim.
  • Media organizations should not publish or broadcast any material, which judged within context, promotes or glamorizes any aspect of violence against women.
  • In reporting sensitive issues such as rape, special care must be taken to balance the public’s right to know with compassion for those affected.
  • Due restraint should be observed while reporting official visits to victims of rape/sexual assault.

 Workplace – Capacity Building and Promotion

  • Media organizations should have effective and enforceable policies on sexual harassment.
  • Media organizations should take steps to promote family friendly work practices and a culture of mutual respect between female and male employees.
  • Media organizations should promote gender balance to work across a diversity of beats.
  • Media organizations should incorporate gender balance in their recruitment policies to ensure equitable representation of women in all levels of decision making.
  • Media organizations should encourage their employees to have access to training and mentoring programs that are inclusive of both female and male staff with special attention to female staff.