KATHMANDU, November 10

Media Action Nepal launched a year-long project titled "Promoting gender sensitivity in media content and newsroom operations through capacity building of journalists in Nepal" in an attempt to overcome media houses' reluctance to embrace key dimensions of gender sensitivity, such as professional safety of women journalists at work and the promotion of gender-responsive media.

Supported by the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), the project, which was launched Wednesday, aims to address obstacles in mainstreaming gender in the newsrooms of Nepal. It further seeks to encourage media to ensure women's leadership role in media houses across the country.

At the launching event, Laxman Datt Pant, Chairperson of Media Action Nepal (MAN) stated that women continue to be excluded from key decision-making levels in media, which results in very poor coverage of the issues that require vibrant attention to mainstream gender in newsrooms.

This is reflected in the exercises of media activities, i.e., preparation of media content and participation of women in decision making, Pant added.

In his inaugural remarks during the project launch, Rohan Kembhavi, Acting Program Manager of the Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Section at the Canadian Embassy congratulated MAN for coming up with the very relevant and timely intervention to sensitize Nepali media on various dimensions of gender.

Highlighting that the project includes a great set of substantive activities lined up to achieve the goal of promoting gender equality in media, Kembhavi remarked, "We certainly need to increase the number of women in leadership positions, to that end media houses need to create a safe and inclusive environment in order to promote free, fair and robust media."

Adding that it is important to know how systematic gender biases hamper the functioning of women journalists and prevent them from achieving their own potentials as well as making their full contribution to the sector, Kembhavi said he hoped that the project would contribute towards creating enabling environment for women to utilize their full potentials through various activities.

"I congratulate Media Action Nepal for launching this important project and looking forward to seeing the impact of the project activities. For me, the media is the watchdog of democracy and good governance, only with the co-participation of women can we achieve this goal," remarked Stéfanie Bergeron, First Secretary at the High Commission of Canada in India.

"The project will promote gender sensitivity in media content and newsroom operations through various project activities such as a content analysis of 20 provincial and federal media outlets mainly newspapers and online portals, preparation of a consolidated handbook to reflect the principles and practices of gender-sensitive media indicators followed by two-phase two-day long virtual training for 140 journalists covering 7 provinces and 77 districts of Nepal," MAN Chairperson Pant informed during the virtual launch of the project attended by more than 30 journalists from seven provinces.

A total of 30 media fellows with 50 per cent women will be awarded media fellowships representing all 7 provinces and Kathmandu valley. They will attend separate mentoring sessions for investigative reporting and editorial content of the underreported gender dimensions. Fellows will prepare and disseminate at least two investigative stories on women's success and challenges during the fellowship, which will create a different understanding of gender roles in society. These fellows will ultimately become the gender champions in journalism after the fellowship.

Aiming to help increase gender sensitivity among national-level media and to prioritize gender coverage in media reporting, the project includes a one-day national level panel discussion among editors, journalists and media experts.

Despite the fact that the situation of women has changed in the current era, the media still fails to disseminate information on women's progress. The stories about women and their struggle for recognition are not reflected in the news. It has yet to educate the empowerment of women in society.