Media and women’s human rights

Authored by: Barbara M. Freeman , Silvio Waisbord

The Routledge Companion to Media and Human Rights

Print publication date:  June  2017
Online publication date:  July  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138665545
eBook ISBN: 9781315619835
Adobe ISBN:


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Women’s rights in the news media are very much a human rights issue, one that the United Nations and other international bodies have emphasized in their reports on the importance of freedom of expression and the right to communicate for women and minorities. Yet news media around the world still ignore, downplay or misrepresent women and their concerns, relaying very mixed messages about their rights to equality, security and their socio-political place in society (LaRue et al. 2010; Global Media Monitoring Project 2015). Much of the emphasis in the academic research has stemmed from the concerns and goals of women’s movements in a number of countries and how well, or not, the media have reported on them. The literature includes media coverage of the movement itself; the absence or misrepresentation of women in the news, especially those exercising their right as citizens to hold public office; the right of women and girls to safety from sexual and other forms of violence in both war and peacetime; and, to a lesser extent, the right to freedom from the gender, religious, racial and other forms of discrimination that contribute to female poverty, ill health and death. This chapter will discuss academic studies that are primarily engaged in posing feminist questions related to the news media and women’s rights, whether they are a matter of law, policy or practice, including different forms of news on the Internet. Most of these studies involve substantial primary and secondary research in journalism studies or take an interdisciplinary approach, combining those fields with others, such as sociology, political science or international relations. Others noted are helpful literature reviews. For reasons of focus and space, they are representative of the current English-language scholarship on women, their rights and the news media, and do not cover all the many human rights violations against the female sex.

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