Women in Local Democracy
Promoting Equal Rights and Equal Opportunities in Armenia
Communicating 'gender equality'
05-Mar-2013, by Natalya Harutyunyan, UNDP, via web
NGO representatives discuss new media opportunities and advantages Photo credit: UNDP
Civil society and media as ‘thought leaders'
This blog takes a look at probably the most challenging of the Women in Local Democracy Project’s activities: capacity development of civil society and the media on gender sensitive messaging and the promotion of ‘beyond stereotypes’ dialogue on gender roles.
For this component, UNDP partners with the Armenian Public Relations Association (APRA). But before delving into the detail on our initial capacity development efforts, I want to touch upon how we know what aspects to target.
We start by ‘sniffing the air’ through media monitoring on gender issues. The monitoring covers the online versions of six printed media, six weekend news bulletins on national TV stations and five talk shows aired by TV stations countrywide. (We will repeat the monitoring twice during the project lifetime to track the changes). The results of the first monitoring are quite intriguing, and we will soon publish a special blog to present the main findings.
Meanwhile, on the basis of the media monitoring initial findings, we delivered the first three-party round of capacity development:
1. Support to journalists working for print, online, and broadcast media
Thirty-seven journalists representing print, online and broadcast media from Yerevan and marzes of Armenia engaged in two training workshops on “Gender and Gender-Sensitive Journalism”. The following important aspects were presented and discussed:
- Women’s issues, main concepts of gender equality (incl. gender roles, stereotypes, and other);
- Social aspects of gender, and gender approaches in the socio-economic context of the country;
- Specifics of gender-sensitive journalism, incidence and deepness of gender coverage in mass media;
- Gender-related facts and figures.
The training events generated lively discussion, which revealed a lot of diverging opinions among the journalists on gender issues:
"In reality there is no gender discrimination, every woman chooses her way, at times it is even easier for a woman to reach her goals than for a man. Nobody can prevent me from doing what I wish... It is just some women prefer to stay at home…” says Hermine Ayvazyan, young female journalist from Lori marz.
“I think there are unequal gender attitudes in our society, which is very explicable… I myself would not hire a young woman, who potentially can get married and further take a maternity leave… Besides, if an evening TV programme is planned, she might not show up, because her husband might object”… says Varduhi Eranosyan, a female TV company director from Armavir marz.
2. Support to civil society organizations, working in the area of gender and women issues
Twenty-one representatives of NGOs working in the area of gender equality and women issues gathered at a three-day training workshop on “Enhancing the Public Relation Skills of the NGOs” and “New Media: New Opportunities, New Tools, New Logic”. The trainers, who are among the best specialists in their respective fields in Armenia, challenged the participants on the following issues:
Public Relations (PR)
- How the organisation becomes known: reputation versus image (facts vs. cultivated image);
- Difference between advertisement, public advocacy and PR: technologies, rational/irrational aspects, difference in purposes. Advertisement creates interest and demand toward a product/service, advocacy persuades, whereas PR cultivates trust;
- PR as a management function called to create two-way relations (again opposed to advertisement and advocacy is one-way actions); dialogue techniques;
- PR strategy development: situation analysis, identification of society opinion- and attitude-shapers; archiving the media coverage/materials on the NGO and its activity; creating database of journalists covering the needed sector; defining PR goals and objectives; problems and issues; taking stock of current resources; defining target audiences and the relevant media outlets formulating messages (aiming at behavior change, attitude formation, or provision of information); selecting communication tactics and forms; drafting timelines and budgets;
- ‘Must-haves’ of PR strategy (same for the NGO website): photo archive of the NGO key people and events, short resumes of key employees, brief summaries of all projects; national context/specifics, list of special events;
- Relations with journalists: how to cultivate and maintain them, ‘to-dos’ / ‘not-to-dos’, how to stay interesting and relevant, how to efficiently use media space and airing time, how to impact ‘own’ audience, how to attract new audience;
- ‘How-to’ of press conferences and briefings.
The group also discussed aspects of ‘non-communication’ (e.g. by the Government) and how it results in mistrust. The importance of laconism, short and concise messaging was highlighted.
“We need to learn from youngsters on short messaging, they reach ultimate efficiency in sms-texting by trying to save money” joked Arman Saghatelyan, the trainer.
- Changing role of the internet;
- New technologies of receiving and disseminating information;
- New means and ways for expressing opinion and spreading personal, group or organizational messages;
- Social media: overview of Facebook, Twitter, VKontakte and other; facts and figures, differences and similarities of networks, (dis)advantages; presence of Armenian citizens in the social networks, specifics of audiences; practical guidance on social networks;
- Security issues related to the usage of social media and ethics of networking;
- Blogging, its advantages and benefits: introduction to Livejournal, Wordpress, Blogspot;
- How to present the activity in user-friendly format: infographics, datablogs, etc.
‘Twitter is not very popular in Armenia (maybe because we do not like to be brief), but the micro blogging is the quickest and the most efficient way of receiving and sharing the information” says Samvel Martirosyan, the trainer.
3. NGO and media networking event
Upon completion of the training course all the beneficiaries met at a networking event, which hosted 45 representatives of leading media companies, as well as the Women in Local Democracy project beneficiary journalists and NGOs. The event aimed to stimulate communication between the parties, and establish connections/networks between NGOs and the media.
More news will follow soon on how we engage our stakeholders into the ‘gender’ debate (through talk shows, TV programmes and other)…
PS: During one of the training events, held in Tsakhkadzor, we met the Armenian Olympic chess team and could not miss a chance to opportunistically engage them into conversation on gender equality and stereotypes. Opinions diverged among those champions too…
“Even in chess we witness gender stereotypes”, said Levon Aronyan, Grandmaster and Olympic Champion, “not only in Armenia, but also in other countries it is believed that men are stronger at chess than women, and even the coaching process of men and women chess players is different…I personally think that there is no difference in intellectual capabilities of women and men, we (the society) just assign certain roles to them and bring up the new generations accordingly. In this regard the work you do is important, especially for the regions of Armenia”.
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