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The UK media is still dominated by sexist stereotypes and run by male journalists, according to a front page story in the Guardian on Monday. Using figures from a new study released by Women In Journalism, the Guardian created an infographic from data gathered by analyzing nine UK newspapers over the course of four weeks. In that time, across titles, 78 percent of all front page articles were written by men.

The Financial Times came out on top of the “quality press” or broadsheets with 34 percent of its front page articles written by women (The Daily Express, a tabloid, was top overall with 50 percent of front page bylines belonging to women). Meanwhile The Independent lagged behind, with only 9 percent of its 70 front-page articles written by women across the four weeks of the study.

Inequality extends to the content of those stories, too. Of 668 people quoted across titles, 83 percent were men, the study said.

Alongside this, worth noting an interesting group in the UK called Sound Women, specifically addressing many of these issues in the context of radio.

The UK media is still dominated by sexist stereotypes and run by male journalists, according to a front page story in the Guardian on Monday. Using figures from a new study released by Women In Journalism, the Guardian created an infographic from data gathered by analyzing nine UK newspapers over the course of four weeks. In that time, across titles, 78 percent of all front page articles were written by men.

The Financial Times came out on top of the “quality press” or broadsheets with 34 percent of its front page articles written by women (The Daily Express, a tabloid, was top overall with 50 percent of front page bylines belonging to women). Meanwhile The Independent lagged behind, with only 9 percent of its 70 front-page articles written by women across the four weeks of the study.

Inequality extends to the content of those stories, too. Of 668 people quoted across titles, 83 percent were men, the study said.

Alongside this, worth noting an interesting group in the UK called Sound Women, specifically addressing many of these issues in the context of radio.

Panels tend to be pretty man-heavy, in my experience.  I’ve spoken on quite a few human rights, tech, media development and journalism panels in the 3 years since I joined WITNESS in New York, and, although these sectors are often driven by the work and ideas of women, and many of the conference organisers are women, those with the mic are more often than not men (including me).

Curating panels isn’t any easier – in the PEN World Voices Festival in 2008 we had three successive female participants drop out of one panel, only to see them replaced by a phalanx of (very able) male speakers (although somehow Mary Robinson kindly agreed to introduce the panel, thereby restoring some kind of natural order), and in 2009, we didn’t have any, as the one woman on the panel, Kathrin Roeggla, was unable to travel to New York.  The 2009 panel itself was fine – wonderful, actually – but there was something in the specific maleness of the bonhomie that left me uncomfortably self-conscious.

Last year, I had the honour and privilege of delivering a keynote speech at the O’Reilly Conference, ETech (thanks to Joi Ito), which, looking back at the programme, seems like another overwhelmingly male-dominated conference agenda (O’Reilly now has a diversity statement, and it will be interesting to see how this impacts on the perceived quality of their conferences).  Despite this, it’s largely the presentations, ideas, conversations with women at the conference that I found most surprising and thought-provoking (honourable mentions for Julian Bleecker, Aaron Koblin, Mike Migurski and a couple of others).  So for Ada Lovelace Day, here are short intros to three women – all of whom were also extremely generous with their time in allowing me to ask even basic questions – doing work of very different kinds selected from (Sh)ETech 2009:

Elizabeth Goodman was my stand-out conversation at ETech – totally fascinating work in California on urban green spaces, informed by a huge range of learning and references, and though I missed her presentation (photo by @moleitau), an extended conversation by the piano more than made up for that.

On reflection, tied for first place was Molly Steenson – I didn’t see Molly’s presentation (there’s a theme emerging here) but her Ignite talk was witty, learned and about one of my favourite things – communication and technology in 19th Century France.

Ashwini Asokan of Intel® Corporation patiently took a chunk of time to explain to me some of the deeper concepts and research behind her presentation about localised uses of technology – really specific work, rooted in reality, and real experiences, and highly recommended.

Others whose work I have followed in more detail in the year that has passed since then include Jennifer Magnolfi of Herman Miller, and Jane McGonigal – but of those whose work I encountered at ETech itself, Elizabeth, Molly and Ashwini’s work continues to resonate for me, and I strongly encourage you to seek their work out.

Late last year I curated a week of posts for In Media Res, a superb project that brings anthropologists together to talk about online video.  Writing fascinatingly alongside me were Sarah Van Deusen Phillips, Melissa Gira-Grant and Leshu Torchin.  Here’s my post, originally published here:

Shaky, grainy, traumatic footage filmed on mobile phones wielded by brave citizens – from Burma to Tibet to Iran – has fast become both part of and fuel for contemporary narratives of uprising, struggle and repression – and it increasingly represents one of the key acts of resistance that individual citizens in repressive societies can make.  While this now makes it seem almost commonplace in the rituals of human rights media, it wasn’t always thus.

I’ve been tracking, analysing and curating human rights video online for the human rights organisation WITNESS since the middle of 2006, initially via a blog aiming to unearth examples of activists using new technologies to document, expose and bring an end to human rights violations.  A large number of stories were about mobile phone video – from police cells in Egypt to the execution of Saddam Hussein – and strikingly the most compelling, unvarnished and actionable footage often came from the cameras of the human rights abusers themselves.

Most of these cases showed networked technologies could reinforce repression – specifically taking mobile footage of humiliation, beatings, abuse, torture, happening in secret places, to show it directly to those you want to intimidate, and to circulate it more widely via Bluetooth “pour encourager les autres”.  But in a certain number of instances case the videos found their way into the hands of outraged activists who spread and publicised the abuses online, to often global attention, with the long-term effect of focusing attention, activism, and advocacy to the governments tolerating or sponsoring these abuses, or at the very least, to undermine officially sanctioned or imposed narratives of law, order, justice.

Some videos, however, don’t make the same dent.  Read More

[Cross-posted from the WITNESS Hub Blog.]

I generally read my news online, but sometimes you can feel the impact of a story so much more when you’re holding it in your hands. During a brief layover in London on the way to Athens for a conference (on which more in the coming days), I bought a slew of UK newspapers – and one of those papers deserves particular credit for its editorial choices today.

The Guardian has a special focus on the epidemic of rape in the Congo today, based on video testimonies (but unfortunately the Guardian doesn’t permit embedding of their media so visit their site to see the video).

On the Guardian’s homepage, the story is of course given prominence – it’s just below the fold at this late point in the day – but clearly has to operate in the context of breaking news.  It’s rapidly been displaced from the top of the site by the US unemployment figures and the sentencing of OJ Simpson, among other emerging stories.

But the hundreds of thousands buying or seeing the print edition can’t possibly avoid the portrait and testimony of 50-year-old Mirindi Euprazi that dominate the front page, or the deeper crisis that her words describe. (Click the link below to see the front page.)

Guardian – Front Page – 5 December 2008

Her harrowing story of rape by militias in Walungu, in the eastern part of DRC, is just one of over 400 video testimonies collected by Leah Chishugi, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide who travelled round eastern DRC between July and October this year talking to women who had survived in some cases repeated and ongoing sexual violence.  Deeper in the paper, the story is given further space with a two-page spread, one side of which starkly presents stills and quotes from video interviews with 8 separate women. (Click below to see the two-page spread.)

Guardian – Extended Coverage – 5 December 2008

I can’t recommend today’s Guardian coverage of this highly enough – it’s a powerful, purposeful use of their front page territory (more so IMHO than, for example, the Independent’s single-issue front pages).

Avaaz also recognises the power of print media to inform and influence public debate, and is taking a different but related tack, mobilising its members to donate for adspace in newspapers across Europe to urge action on the crisis.  It’s not an either/or, but without the Guardian’s editorial commitment, and the compassion and insight brought by Leah Chishugi’s interviews, advocacy actions like those of Avaaz might have much less chance of success.

I urge you to watch and share these testimonies as widely as possible, not least since next week is the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the world’s attention during the coming days will be squarely on celebrating human rights. These women’s testimonies are deeply sobering, and bear witness to a widening legacy of trauma both physical and psychological from a conflict that has not only claimed millions of lives, but continues to damage and destroy the lives of millions more.  They deserve to be seen, heard, and acted on – immediately.

What you can do:

– learn more about the work being done by the IRCMedecins Sans Frontieres, and even the late Miriam Makeba to spotlight and bring an end to the rape crisis, as well as addressing the widespread stigmatisation of survivors of sexual violence. The US TV channel HBO has a selection of local and international resources to accompany their showing of the film The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo.  Worldpulse has a petition link.  If you know of other actions or ways to support work addressing this crisis, just add them in a comment below.

– stay up-to-date with events in the DRC – IRIN and International Crisis Group are good places to start – as are Amnesty and HRW.  Congo Resourcesand Friends of the Congo are blogs devoted to tracking and framing all things DRC.   The Guardian’s overall coverage is here, and Global Voices’ coverage here.  Again, please add more sources below.

– My colleague Bukeni Waruzi has spoken and blogged recently on the crisis that continues to face his country. Other videos on the Hub include this piece from Unicef on Rape as a Weapon of War in DRC, and this WITNESS co-production from Sierra Leone, Operation Fine Girl, on the use of rape as a weapon of war in the civil conflict there.  Let us know below of any relevant videos or testimonies you come across.

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Update:

Since I posted the post above a few days ago, NGO and media reports – particularly those involving the testimony of women directly affected – about this crisis have brought significant attention to the issue – but what is happening to stem the tide?

One month ago, the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect wrote an open letter to the UN (pdf) calling for direct intervention (read more on the R2P doctrine).
And over on Comment is Free, author Giles Foden calls for international military intervention in the DRC, using the reports of mass rape as the “platform for this intervention.”

Ordinary Africans are already suffering on a scale that dwarfs
casualties from terrorist outrages and conflicts in Afghanistan and
Iraq. In particular, the harrowing reports of mass rape in the Congo
demand a response – a military one. There are good political as well as
human rights
reasons why stopping mass rape should be the platform for this
intervention. Women are the “glue” in central African society. They are
the carers, the food providers. If many in several generations of women
are damaged, injured or killed, the chances of a return to civil
society are extremely slim.

Read the rest of Giles’ piece and the numerous comments on it here.