Round three of the Sri Lankan Media Gender Charter Live discussions get underway

“It is sad to notice, the same society which considers women as noble has also branded women as media commodities. It’s a bitter paradox!”

October 25, COLOMBO – When it comes to gender portrayal in the media, it should certainly be an equal combination of maintaining values, ethics and institutional mechanisms as a whole. Taking a great leap forward, Sri Lanka Development Journalist Forum (SDJF) completed the third #Media4Everyone Facebook live discussion on the topic, ‘Do we have a fair portrayal of gender in Sri Lankan media?’, on October 18, 2020 (Sunday), via Zoom & Facebook live from 6.00 pm-7.15 pm.

This discussion series was hosted to promote the importance of enhancing gender equality and justice in Sri Lankan media, ‘for fair use of media for everyone’. Nearly 20 participants representing diverse spheres of academia, gender, and media took part in the Zoom discussion while 540 viewers joined via Facebook live during the livestream. Dilrukshi Handunneththi, the co-convener of South Asian Women in Media was featured as the speaker while Attorney-At-Law, Nethmini Medawala, was the moderator.

The discussion provided insights by tracing some of the vexing drawbacks prevailing in the current media landscape such as driving factors for media outlets to stereotype women, how media needs to be more proactive in dealing with gender biases especially during a national crisis? The trend among some alternative media attempting to build a culture of gender stereotypes and deeply rooted patriarchal values that hinder fair portrayal of gender in media.

It’s the silent crime as nobody dares to speak”, added Dilrukshi while emphasizing that institutional mechanisms are not in place to mitigate unfair portrayal of gender in a professional setting. The discussion was very interactive since there was an active engagement of the audience both on Zoom and Facebook. It enabled them to come up with different questions related to the topic and thereby to directly interact with the speaker to find answers. In order to expand the discussion to a wider audience, SDJF launched 8 Facebook watch parties. As a result, SDJF has received 631 views, 355 engagements and 23 constructive comments through Facebook.

“We often see roles of women being discriminated against in the media. Sometimes, the same society which considers women as noble has also branded women as “media commodities”, read one of the comments on Facebook by Shavini Wathsala. Agreeing to the point discussed by the speaker, Darshan Fernando left a comment stating, “It’s important not to get caught up in media marketing and commercialization. Journalists are often rendered helpless inside this framework”.

After an interactive discussion, Dilrukshi concluded the discussion by saying, “There are more engagements and the industry does have futuristic conversations yet, women are a bit reluctant to point out or raise their voice against any kind of negative gender portrayal in the media”.

#Media4Everyone live discussion series is designed & implemented by Sri Lanka Development Journalist Forum under the Media Empowerment for a Democratic Sri Lanka (MEND) program supported by International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) and funded by USAID.

To access the live discussion please click the link below: