On International Women’s Day, March 8, RFE/RL and Lady Liberty invited prominent Czech women journalists to RFE/RL’s Prague headquarters for a roundtable discussion with journalists from the Balkan, Persian, and Afghan language services to address the question “What are the issues facing women in our country and how do we report on them?”
Guests Julie Stejskalova, managing editor of the News Centre at Czech Radio, and Silvie Lauder, a journalist covering international and domestic politics and society for the weekly news magazine Respekt joined RFE/RL journalists Arbana Vidishiqi of the Balkan Service’s Kosovo Unit, Hannah Kaviani of Persian language Radio Farda, and Malali Bashir of the Afghan Service.
Participants discussed the specific challenges to reporting on women in their countries, stereotypes about women perpetuated by the media, public reaction to bold advocacy writing on women, and the role of journalists as educators on women’s rights and gender.
“How can journalists help? We can provide a platform for women to speak openly about the choices they’ve made and the lives they live. And we can speak on behalf of those who are afraid to raise their own voices,” said Vidishiqi.
Providing more space for discussion of women’s lives was a call seconded by Lauder, who noted that negative public perception of the discussion around women’s rights and equality can discourage media coverage.
“The media usually reflects the majority view in the country, and if you present a minority view, there will be a backlash, which is exactly what happens when write about working mothers, the lack of childcare options, or sexual and domestic violence. The quality of coverage can suffer when the media tries too hard to please the majority.”
The discussion was followed by a reception and social hour with all RFE/RL staff and guests.