Media & Women in the MENA Region

MAP held a Roundtable Discussion on Tuesday, September 29th, 2015. Civil society activists, interested citizens, media students and NGOs came together to explore ways to create space for interactions between media and civil society organizations in Lebanon in order to advance the Women, Peace & Security Agenda. MAP organized the event as part of its Media, Peace and Human Rights Program (MPHR) under its “Women and Media in the MENA Region” project implemented in collaboration with the Swedish organization Operation 1325.

The Roundtable Discussion began with an introduction to the topic by MAP researchers, including a monitoring report highlighting the frequency and quality of journalistic articles covering women’s issues. MAP also introduced their media toolkit co-written with partners in the Kurdistan’s Women Empowerment Organization (WEO) and Palestine’s Women, Media and Development Organization (TAM).

Participants unanimously agreed that the portrayal of women in the media emphasizes images of victimization and sexualization, with women infrequently spotlighted by the media in leadership roles.

The Discussion then turned to the interaction of civil society organizations with one another and the media. Although some participants pointed out the unhealthy and often detrimental competition between civil society organizations, attending NGO representatives highlighted that contrary to popular belief, there is cooperation and collaboration between certain organizations; unfortunately, these partnerships are not highlighted by the media. A debate on the topic ensued, with the majority concluding that diversity is richness and that all NGO efforts should be covered by the media, irrespective of their cooperative efforts or lack thereof.

For the event’s conclusion, participants suggested names of successful women for MAP journalists to interview. MAP committed to sharing its media toolkit on Women, Peace and Security with all of the participants and the wider Lebanese civil society.