Parliamentarians exchange experiences of tackling gender-based violence in journalism and politics across the OSCE region

GBV webinar hedy fry 101121Hedy FryCOPENHAGEN, 10 November 2021 – Today dozens of legislators, gender experts and journalists from the OSCE area discussed effective policies and challenges in addressing gender-based violence at the Parliamentary Web Dialogue on “Violence Against Women Journalists and Politicians: A Growing Crisis.”

The event served as an opportunity for OSCE PA Special Representative on Gender Issues Hedy Fry (Canada) to officially present her 2021 Report focusing on this topic. Opening the event, Dr. Fry raised concern about the surging rates of violence despite growing awareness of the problem of gender-based violence in journalism and politics. “As we continue to learn from women’s lived experiences and engage in constructive discussions, I urge all participants to take what they learned today into action in their respective parliaments and fields,” she said.

Calling on parliamentarians to introduce relevant and up-to-date legislation, policies, and preventive mechanisms to tackle gender-based violence in journalism and politics OSCE PA President Margareta Cederfelt in her video address drew attention to the strong legislative framework in Sweden. She stressed that failing to protect safety of journalists and politicians threatens democratic safeguards. Noting that gender equality has always been high on OSCE PA’s agenda, Secretary General Roberto Montella underlined OSCE PA’s proactive role in advancing inclusive approaches and women’s meaningful participation in all fields.

At the panel discussion OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Teresa Ribeiro, outlined the paramount role of parliamentarians, saying: “If women journalists are attacked and women’s free speech is weakened by physical violence or online threats, this severely weakens women’s participation in any other public role.”

GBV webinar odihr 101121ODIHR's presentationMona Lena Krook, Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Women and Politics PhD Program at Rutgers University, talked about her work exploring various forms of violence against women in politics and journalism. She warned against the normalization of gender-based violence in societies and explained how troublingly prevalent the phenomenon is in public life. Saša Gavrić, Gender Officer at the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), stressed that an effective tool for promoting gender equality is the establishment of gender-sensitive parliaments, which can be achieved through building political will for gender equality. Gender audits in parliaments are useful in this regard, he said.

Rumbidzai Kandawasvika-Nhundu, Senior Advisor for Democracy and Inclusion at the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) argued that legislation is needed to combat this challenge but stressed that changing laws is not enough. Violence against women is perpetuated by mindsets which are informed by norms that have established public life as a male sphere, she said. Without changing this mindset, the effectiveness of legislative efforts will remain limited. Therefore, she said, to truly eliminate violence against women, perceptions must be changed and toward this end, parliamentarians play a key role conveying this message to the public.

During the debate participants and experts exchanged views and lessons learned on concrete ways parliaments and inter-parliamentary fora such as the OSCE PA can support and protect women politicians and journalists in their respective fields. The need for parliamentarians to update legal frameworks was raised, including how the OSCE can assist in this regard. The international community must recognize the specific risks women journalists and politicians face, it was stressed.

In concluding, Special Representative Fry noted that it is absolutely vital to keep gender-related dialogue alive while supporting it with concrete actions in addressing gender-based violence, at all times.

For more information on the work of the OSCE PA Special Representative on Gender Issues, please click here.

To watch the video of today’s event, please click here.



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

Office: +45 33 37 80 55
Mobile: +45 60 10 81 77
Email: [email protected]

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