Media and Gender Equality Committee Holds Public Consultation

The Media and Gender Equality Committee (MGEC), chaired by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), held the first of two rounds of consultations on the three draft document outputs set under Section 19 (Non-discriminatory and Non-Derogatory Portrayal of Women in Media and Film) of the Magna Carta of Women (MCW) Implementing Rules and Regulations on February 21 at the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).

The Gender Equality Guidelines, Guidelines to Protect Women against Discrimination in Media and Film, and Code of Ethics for Media formulated by the MGEC were presented to representatives from various national government agencies, women’s NGOs, academe, and private organizations. The Public Consultation served as a venue for various stakeholders to articulate their comments, inquiries and suggestions to enhance the documents.

PCW Chairperson Remedios Rikken stresses the need for media and academe to address gender issues specifically on the socialization aspect of males and females. Morevoer, she says it is also important to pay attention to pocketbooks since most of the content promote pornography.

“Nagbabago ang mga isyu at trend sa midya. Iyong mga isyung tinutukan namin noon ay iba na ngayon. Dapat na rin tayong magbago ng stratehiya sa pag-address ng mga ito” (Issues and trends in media are changing. The issues that we tackled before are different from the ones we have now. We should then change our strategies in dealing with those.), PCW Chairperson Remedios Rikken said. While she affirmed that media is very powerful in shaping the mindset, Rikken also stressed that gender issues should also be addressed by the academe. “Saan ba natututunan ng tao ang socialization ng pagiging male at female? Schools and colleges should start with the three documents presented today,” (Where do people learn how to socialize as a male and as a female? Schools and colleges should start with the three documents presented today), Rikken added.

Meanwhile, PCOO Assistant Secretary for Legal Affairs Atty. Lesley Jeanne Cordero narrated the process that the MGEC went through in drafting the documents. She said the government media is highly involved in the endeavor to effectively utilize the gender and development (GAD) budget. “We don’t limit ourselves to discussions. There should also be actions,” Cordero said.

Cordero discussed that the Gender Equality Guidelines is also applicable to schools of journalism, communication and information “to help prepare the students become gender sensitive.” On the issue of media’s self-regulation, Cordero said the Code of Ethics for Media is offered as a “guide” which media organizations can use in reviewing their existing policies and Codes of Ethics. The Guidelines to Protect Women against Discrimination in Media and Film contains provisions that promote the dignity of women and their roles and contributions in the family, community and society.

Manila Broadcasting Company Vice President and KBP representative Atty. Rudolph Steve Jularbal urged the public to be on guard in watching the media, which is the watchdog, in order to have balance and public-oriented programming.

“If we want to pursue gender equality, we must have a strong figure head like Jane Fonda. The kind of icon we need to command women presence in media ay dapat nasa harap na nagsasalita para makapagsulat ng istorya tungkol sa kababaihan.” (If we want to pursue gender equality, we must have a strong figure head like Jane Fonda. The kind of icon we need to command women presence in media should be at the forefront in defending women’s issues so media can write about women’s stories.), Jularbal said.

Moreover, Jularbal said media believes in the truth, accuracy, fairness, and objectivity which are key principles stated in the three MGEC documents. He said caution and sensitivity must be exercised in “offering” the Code of Ethics for Media to media organizations in order to avoid encroachment or intrusion of press freedom.

Women’s Feature Service (WFS) Executive Director Ms. Olivia Tripon emphasized the need for media to be conscious of seeking and presenting stories. “There is a gender component in news. Women’s voices and stories only account for 30% of the total news,” she said.

Several reactors from the academe, women’s NGOs, and private sector raised several issues such as policing social networking sites, giving airtime for women’s programs, and showing both husband and wife playing productive roles such as child-rearing and home maintenance.

Representatives from the academe stressed that while the objective of the three documents are “very good,” not all schools, colleges, and universities are “not willing to revise curricula and school subjects to become gender sensitive.” They suggested for the promulgation of the three documents to all schools and not just to schools of Journalism, Communication and Information.

Talent manager and Integrated Metro Bus Operators Association (IMBOA) President Claire De La Fuente welcomed the three MGEC documents. She said the public can do something about the negative portrayals of women in the media. “We don’t have to wait for government,” she added.

“We do need to recognize that the MCW values a conscious effort not to be sanction-oriented,” Anna Lea Sarabia of Women’s Feature Service said adding that journalists no longer want to be controlled as it was during Martial Law. She, however, stressed that KBP should be more vigilant in disciplining the members specifically on Article 25 of the KBP Code of Ethics on Sex, Obscenity and Pornography. Sarabia said media practitioners saying snide and sexist remarks should not get away with it because “many people see them as idols.”

Also, Sarabia said blind items and gossip columns which are “making money on discriminatory suspicions” should stop. She lauded GMA 7’s “Amaya” TV program which promoted the role of women in history. She also said programs should also promote understanding of LGBT in their pursuit of equality.

OMB Chairperson Ronnie Ricketts (2nd from right) and Philippine Information Agency Director for Planning Betty Lou Peñera (right) award the certificates of recognition to the panel of the Media and Gender Equality Committee Public Consultation on February 21, 2012. The panel consists of (from left) Manila Broadcasting Company Vice President and Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas representative Atty. Rudolph Steve Jularbal, Presidential Communications Operations Office Assistant Secretary for Legal Affairs Atty. Lesley Jeanne Cordero, Philippine Commission on Women Chairperson Remedios Rikken, and Women’s Feature Service Executive Director Olivia Tripon.

Optical Media Board (OMB) Chairperson Ronnie Ricketts shared how he became aware of gender issues while he was making action movies. He said he vowed to help change the landscape of film industry by speaking out for actresses who are maligned or sexually harassed by actors. Ricketts also said he will continue to include the advocacy for women’s empowerment and gender equality in OMB visits to schools and other offices.

Cordero said holding a Public Consultation is a relevant move “because the documents will be handed down to stakeholders when approved.” A Media Consultation is set to happen on February 28 to gather insights and comments from media practitioners.

“Lahat po tayo kailangan i-acknowledge na may mga isyu na dapat nating sagutin tungo sa lipunang may pagkakapantay-pantay. Isa lamang dito ang mga isyu ng gender sa midya,” (Everyone should acknowledge that there are issues that need to be addressed in order to attain a society where equality is realized. Media and gender is just one of those) Rikken said.

The PCOO, its attached agencies, PCW, KBP, WFS, OMB, NTC, Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), Film Academy of the Philippines, and National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) comprise the Media and Gender Equality Committee.