PCW reminds gov’t agencies on gender-sensitive IEC materials

The Philippine Commission on Women calls on all government agencies to ensure gender sensitivity in all information, education, and communication (IEC) materials, following the video material produced by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) Region III which features personnel doing the “It Really Hurts” challenge.

In the video, the personnel wearing polo shirts with LTO logo, shake their hips and do certain gestures, imitating the dance moves of vlogger and comedian Mimiyuh in the viral “It Really Hurts” challenge. Information on traffic violations and their corresponding penalties were shown in the video and the lyrics were also altered to the effect of warning violators on the consequences of violation.

While the content of the material is well appreciated, the Commission believes that there are better and more effective ways to express the message other than having people, presumably their employees, perform gyrating dance moves that are totally irrelevant to the message that they want to convey. Under the Magna Carta of Women (RA 9710), the State and all its instrumentalities must endeavor to “raise the consciousness of the general public in recognizing the dignity of women and the role and contribution of women in the family, community, and the society through the strategic use of mass media,” in line with the non-discriminatory and non-derogatory portrayal of women in all forms of media, communication, information dissemination, and advertising.

Following this, all must be cautious as to the gender sensitivity of all media content, especially when it is targeted for the general public. This is critical during this digital era when many government agencies harness the power of social media and hook into trends to spread information on their campaigns.

To guide government agencies on this, the Gender-Fair Media Guidebook provides self-assessment tools. Before producing and posting such materials, assess first the following elements: content, portrayal of women, balance in representation, gender stereotyping, gender-neutral language, and social media etiquette. We call on all government instrumentalities to use these guidelines in producing new IEC materials.

We encourage government agencies to take advantage of the influence of social media responsibly through dignified portrayal of persons in their publicity materials. Gone are the days when women were being used to attract the attention of an audience, by making them dance or wear skimpy clothes or portraying them as sexual objects in events and materials where these are not even necessary, e.g.: car shows and promotions of liquor, cigarettes, and other vices. Days towards gender equality and women empowerment must lead us to content that portray women as leaders, innovators, experts, and key contributors to nation-building.

While more media practitioners are becoming more aware of gender-responsive reporting and media production, it is fitting that the government itself, which monitors and advocates for the full implementation of the law, watches its own backyard and serves as a role model for gender-responsiveness in media and publicity materials.