Code of Conduct to Improve the Image of Women in Media
Syrian women have occupied a prominent position since the 1950s. They won the right to vote and to stand for election to the parliament in 1953, and since 1973, the Syrian Parliament composed of both women and men parliamentarians. Also, Syrian women showed marked participation in all political, social and economic activities of life. They assumed decision making positions, including the office of Vice President. The successive constitutions have recognized the equality of all citizens.
However, all that has been formalistic. This is obvious through the discriminatory laws between men and women and through the status of women in the Syrian society. The reservations of the Syrian Government to CEDAW showed its real attitude toward women’s equality with men. The reservations have been to Article 2, Article 9-2, Article 15-4, and Article 16-1 (c), (d), (g), (f), Article 16-2.
In reality, Syrian women were deprived of equal opportunities to take part in the building of the various needs of state and society, which further marginalized women’s role and deepened the gender gap.
However, Syrian women have launched initiatives on various levels with a view to creating a new reality that respects their being and recognizes their abilities. Since the late 1940s, they started to form civil society organizations and movements concerned with public affairs with pure women’s efforts, without relying on a regime that cherishes dictatorship in both institutions and individuals. In spite of the obstruction of laws, and the society’s denial of the women’s role, their active role in the various Syrian provinces and cities has been obvious with the start of the peaceful revolution in 2011, which called for a state of citizenship and democracy; such role appeared clear in their efforts to create alternative civil society institutions.
However, the true image of women has not appeared in the media, and their stereotyped image remained the main one in the minds and in the ways of addressing the topics concerning the leading role of women in the status quo.
Therefore, we, in the Syrian Female Journalists Network, see that a code of conduct (CoC) in media should be developed, to which all media outlets should commit. This CoC aims at showing the true image of Syrian women, observing women’s success stories that contribute to the change of their stereotyped image, and observing all the changes and obstacles facing women, such as laws, customs, traditions and all forms of violence, especially the GBV, with a view to supporting women’s access to all social, political and economic roles, while sticking to credibility.
Objectives | Based on this premise, the CoC aims at:
| Adopting the principles of human rights, respecting the dignity of women, combating all forms of discrimination against women, and raising awareness on the concepts of all forms of gender-based violence against women in all fields;
| Integrating the gender approach in media work, and avoiding prejudices and stereotypes in a media message;
| Monitoring violations in the media, laws and educational curricula;
| Working on the consecration of the culture of gender equality and respecting for human dignity in all media outlets, and contacting politicians, economists, and educators in order to involve them in media campaigns and awareness-raising courses;
| Supporting women to express themselves, and defending their issues, and address these issues objectively and professionally;
| Activating the role of media women, and changing their stereotyped roles from family and society pages to involving them in decision-making positions, as well as the economic and political programs and pages, equally like media men, through creating equal opportunities and disseminating this culture among both media men and women;
| Supporting change movements and involving women and supporting them to reach the decision-making positions, as well as, activating this participation as not to be formalistic.
| Participating in the civil campaigns aimed to change the laws that hinder women’s equal access to their rights and their rights as citizens and human beings.
| Activating communication and networking among the different media outlets and women’s associations, and all civil society bodies that deal with women’s issues in Syria and in the world;
| Lobbying, networking, supporting and acting in solidarity with the journalists when their rights to any form of expression are violated;
| Focusing on success stories and giving voice to the categories that the media ignores;
| Strengthening the independence of media as a fourth power;
| Commitment to the professional ethics, according to this CoC.