Two feminist stories from the Guardian.
Remember how, in the UK, after the News of the World scandal, there was going to be a media inquiry? Well, it’s happening. It’s called the Levenson Inquiry, and a group a feminist activists have just presented to them the ways in which women are unfairly depicted in the media, and what can be done to address gender inequality in the media. They talked about page 3 girls, women shown naked or near naked (one piece of evidence was censored to present to the inquiry, even though it was not censored when published in the newspaper), and how media reporting perpetuates myths about rape, and blames victims.
‘Four groups – Eaves, End Violence Against Women, Object and Equality Now – called on Leveson to back a ban on sexualised images in newspapers, arguing they would not be broadcast on television before the 9pm watershed.
The groups also accused some media outlets of perpetuating myths about rape, which they argued could prevent victims reporting the crime, and called for a tougher regulatory body. "The media creates, reflects and enforces attitudes in society," said Marai Larasi from End Violence Against Women, a coalition of 40 women's organisations. "Those who work in the media should be conscious of this and should actively seek not to reproduce attitudes which condone violence against women or girls."’
The World Economic Forum meets annually in Davis, Switzerland. So, how many women are involved in these meetings where global decisions are made? Not enough.
‘Despite a new quota system demanding that the largest members send one woman for every four men, just 17% of the 2,500 delegates are female. Despite a push to encourage more women on to panels to discuss the issues of the day, just 20% of those invited to do so are women. The majority of panels, especially on key economic topics, are still dominated by (white) men.
Although the days are long gone when one female delegate was asked to leave an event because security assumed she must be a spouse without the required permit, the majority of the women in Davos are not there as participants. Only newcomers to Davos seem to consider this fact remarkable, with the odd feminist exception such as Helen Clark. The former prime minister of New Zealand turned administrator of the United Nations Development Programme called the female participation rate "pathetic". The leader who appointed so many senior women to her cabinet that Benetton ran an airport advertising campaign welcoming visitors to the "women's republic of New Zealand" called for organisers to commit to the millennium development goal of 30% female participation by 2015. "Or why not next year? They should just go and look for the women. In one stroke, participation would go up."
There is little support for such intervention among organisers, who argue that Davos merely reflects a world in which women lead just 3% of the biggest companies in the US and UK and make up 17% of its parliaments. Saadia Zahidi, the WEF's head of constituents who is spearheading the gender programme, calls this the "external glass ceiling" about which an annual meeting of top people can do nothing.
Roger Carr, the chairman of Centrica who is leading efforts to get more women appointed to British boards, agrees. "Davos is a special place populated by the most senior decision makers. The fact is that the number of women in that position is quite small. Davos is just the symptom of something that happened way, way back." Centrica sends just two delegates and both the chief executive and chairman happen to be men.’