Morocco eyes gender equality in media PDF Print

gendermoroccoPosted: 23 December 2010

Country: Morocco

Recently released statistics revealed a deep gender gap in Moroccan journalism.  

Moroccan women are acutely underrepresented in the media sector, according to a recent report by National Moroccan Press Syndicate (SNPM), data show that women constitute just 26% of journalists in the country.

The SNPM revealed in its November 23rd study that 1,755 men hold a professional journalist card from the Ministry of Communication, as opposed to 632 women.

Although the number of accredited female journalists rose by 3% during the period from 2005 to 2010, the country still lags behind other North African states in terms of women's involvement in the media. In Egypt, women constitute 35% of journalists, while Tunisia boasts a 46% representation.  

In an effort to narrow the gender gap, the SNPM launched a battle to increase women's engagement in the media.

"We decided to organise an awareness campaign to shed light on the importance of women's presence, not only as journalists, but also as officials who have the right to assume decision-making positions in their media institutions," SNPM chief Younes Moujahid said, noting the importance of female journalists' intensive involvement in unions to defend their rights.

Moujahid pointed out that the number of female students in Moroccan communication and media institutes was increasing year after year. But their chances to land a job in the press are still slim, given that media institutions prefer male journalists over females.

Furthermore, women experience discrimination in salaries, according to SNPM executive board member Mounia Belafia.

"It's between 18-19% less," she said. "This is in addition to other problems that female journalists endure when they face certain circumstances, such as pregnancy or sexual or moral harassment, without having the ability to report such acts in an official way." She highlighted that women face difficulties in achieving promotion to better positions in the industry.

Some women attending the report presentation said that female journalists have to struggle to prove their abilities and professional merit. In this context, Bahia Amrani, editor-in-chief of Le Reporter, said that a gender balance in media institutions was needed, adding that the difference in salaries should be based on good work and professional competency.

Meanwhile, Nora Samihi, a student at a Casablanca communications institute, told Magharebia: "Today, I don't feel there is any difference between me and my male colleagues when we go out together to the field to train in reportage, for example. However, I have no idea about professional practices inside a media institution. All I hope is that I won't face a different reality that disappoints me in this profession which I chose out of love and conviction," she said, adding that the number of female students in journalism institutes is greater than that of males.

The SNPM, however, has 1,819 male journalists among its members, compared to 459 females.

The report also said that women's presence was particularly weak in certain aspects of the Moroccan press, including caricature. Women represent only 5% of photographers and 17% of technicians.

To achieve its goal of enhancing women's participation in the media, the SNPM set up a council for gender and media. It aims to achieve gender equality by improving women's image in the industry, encourage the media to contribute to changing the prevailing images and stereotypes about women and their roles and support women's presence in different aspects of journalism. The institution also seeks to support female journalists' involvement in the decision-making process based on professional efficiency and equal opportunity

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