Engendering Peace Journalism: Keeping Communities Whole
A guide on gender-sensitive peace and conflict reportage
Making a Difference
Reporting From an Engendered Peace Perspective
As a feminist organizationin the field of communication, Isis International-Manila observed with great concern that after 9/11, women experts and gender perspectives on issues of security and peace have become invisible in the media. Furthermore, media’s role as the voice of people has diminished. Security and peace became purely militaristic concerns and are no longer looked at from a social perspective that puts the well-being of the people as a priority.
Isis International-Manila welcomed the suggestion of Min-WoW to collaborate on a project on engendered peace journalism and community radio. Thus, the project, “Women Making Airwaves for Peace,” was conceptualized based on the media experiences of Min-WoW and Isis’ experience on community radio in Asia Pacific. Canada Fund for Local Initiatives provided the necessary financial support to implement the project.
This primer “Engendering Peace Journalism: Keeping Communities Whole” combines the two organizations’ expertise in monitoring and analyzing media from a Southern feminist perspective together with experiences of the women from the three training activities conducted in North-Western Mindanao, Philippines in 2006-2007. Practitioners from both mainstream and community and independent media, women’s and peace NGOs and grassroots organizations attended the training.
We hope that this primer, as well as the other outputs of the project—online training modules for trainers on engendered peace journalism and community radio skills, a CD of radio plugs promoting a Culture of Peace and cultural diversity— will contribute to the emerging discourse on conflict and peace reportage.
Raijeli Drogolagi Nicole
Engendering Peace and Conflict Reporting:
Keeping Whole Our Stories, Lives and Communities
This guide embodies our respect and belief in the
premium value of quality journalism among the grassroots. We recognize the potentials, power and influence of community and independent media, not only in shaping societies but also in re-shaping and reconstructing itself in order to serve the public better.
Here is a handy collection of practical advice on how to do more effective reporting, particularly for those who are working on conflict and peace issues. Also included are some practical how-to’s in conflict analysis and insights from a gender perspective. It also guides journalists on how to care for body, mind and spirit.
Its platform is the new and evolving concept of peace journalism/conflict-sensitive journalism coupled with gender-sensitivity. Putting a major stress on gender-sensitivity, we dare to call this endeavor, “engendering peace journalism”.
These alternatives in doing quality community journalism will not only improve our craft and keep our news stories whole, but also make us better journalists and eventually better human beings trying to nurture better communities.
It is about caring for how we do our work and caring for the words and images in the stories that we write and broadcast. It is about us journalists taking care of our very selves and caring for the people who are at the marrow of our reportage.
Lina Sagaral Reyes
Mindanaw Women Writers, Inc.
Engendering Peace Journalism
Peace Journalism stories create opportunities for society at large to consider and value non-violent responses to conflict. Peace Journalism uses the tools of conflict analysis and transformation to enable fair and accurate reporting. It provides a route map tracing the connections between the stories they cover and the consequences of their journalism — the ethics of journalistic intervention (Lynch and McGoldrick, 2005).
The genuine Peace Journalism model has an inherent gender perspective.
Engendering means putting emphasis on looking at an event, issue, situation, topic, say a conflict or disaster, with a gender perspective.
Gender analysis/perspective investigates how women and men affect and are affected by events and processes differently
The reporter using the peace journalism lens will still cover armed conflict and violence but in a more in-depth, comprehensive and holistic manner.
Below is an Engendered Peace Journalism matrix adapted from Professor Johann Galtung’s model, which re-frames Peace Journalism from the widely practiced War/Violence Journalism in the 20th and 21st centuries.
|War/Violence Journalism||Engendered Peace/Conflict Journalism|
|I. War/Violence-Orientated||I. Peace/Conflict Orientated|
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|II. Propaganda-Orientated||II. Truth-Orientated|
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|II. Elite-Orientated||II. People-Orientated|
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|IV. Victory-Orientated||IV. Solution-Orientated|
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Conflict management generally involves taking action to keep a conflict from escalating further. It usually does not address the deep-rooted issues that maybe at the cause of the conflict originally or attempt to bring about a solution.
Conflict resolution seeks to resolve the incompatibilities of interests and behaviors that constitute the conflict by recognizing and addressing the underlying issues, finding a mutually acceptable process and establishing relatively harmonious relationships and outcomes.
Conflict transformation aims at shifting how individuals and communities perceive and accommodate their differences, away from adversarial (win-lose) approaches toward collaborative (win-win) problem solving. Transforming a conflict is a long-term process that engages a society on multiple levels to develop the knowledge, understanding and skills that empower people to coexist peacefully.
Peacebuilding refers to activities that go beyond crisis intervention or conflict management, such as long-term development that focuses on developing social, governmental and non-governmental (including religious) mechanisms that favor non-violent, constructive means of resolving differences.
Mapping Conflict: A Conflict Analysis ToolA Conflict Map is a useful analytical instrument for journalists to unravel the conflict, identify who are the stakeholders, and what their different perspectives are. It allows journalists to put themselves in the shoes of the different groups and opens up a whole new avenue of stories for a journalist reporting on conflicts. We use here the conflict map as derived from Lynch and McGoldrick.
Mapping the conflict
Tool 1. Mapping the stakeholders
- Who are the parties involved? Go beyond two groups by asking who has a stake in the outcome. In social or political conflict, parties are often not united, but have factions, leaders and followers, core members and supporters.
- How does the conflict affect women differently from men? Women and men within certain parties might not be united or do not have the same perception of the conflict.
- Who are the marginalised communities and who are the emerging powers? Relate the conflict to historical and cultural context.
Tool 2. Mapping the needs and fears
- What are the current positions, demands, stated goals, and reservations of all the different stakeholders? Ensure that women’s perspectives and demands are included by asking them directly.
- What are the needs of each party? Needs could include rights.
- What are the fears? It is not only about deciding what are the reasonable fears but listening to what group or groups they are afraid of. It is useful to air fears that usually go unstated but still influences people’s behavior.
Tool 3. Analyze the map
- Do the needs and fears of each party reflect their demands and goals? This helps to identify hidden agendas for the journalists to inquire and clarify further.
- What are the common values and ideas of all the stakeholders? What type of constructive line of questioning can the journalists bring in?
Conflict and violence are not the same thing. Conflict is not inherently negative, or damaging and can, produce positive outcomes. Violence always results in injury and destruction.
Structural violence is human suffering that is caused by the exploitative or unjust nature of social, political, legal, cultural and economic structures and institution. Examples include poverty, hunger, homelessness, discrimination due to race, gender, sexual orientation.
Non-violence stands for something most people engage in everyday -- self-assertion, trying to reach goals without violence, without intending to harm or hurt anybody.
Gender in Conflict Analysis
"The media—and media professionals—stand to gain by recognizing that there is a gender dimension to virtually every event, process, institution and/or individual experience covered by the media, including disasters and conflicts. And that, women, including the poor and the illiterate, have information, knowledge and opinions on practically everything. Failure to tap women—including those attempting to resume life after the disaster (tsunami, armed conflict)—as sources and resources can only impoverish media coverage and diminish the understanding of the post-tsunami scenario, as well as many other similar situations (Joseph, 2005)."
The gender-sensitive reporter, who understands how gender relations play out, is more equipped to uncover the underlying roots of the armed conflict and helps find solutions culled from the citizenry.(Re)Framing stories with a gender lens
Journalists may consider the following questions when they write a story:
- Where is the woman in the story?
- How can gender information strengthen the story?
- What are the roles of the male and female subjects and how do these factors inform the issues and story?
- What are the power relationships between men and women, in the leadership of the conflict parties, in the negotiation panels, community structures, family structures? How do these roles and power relations further explain the issue?
- How are the impacts of events and processes written about in a specific story, different for women and for men?
- Where are the points of collaboration between genders? What are the common grounds and shared interests and needs?
Sex identifies the biological and physical differences between women and men.
Gender identifies the social relation and roles between women and men constructed by society.
Gender roles show division of tasks and responsibilities between men and women as defined and further reinforced by patriarchal customary or religious practices, ethnic or cultural attitudes, class or caste, the formal legal system and institutional arrangements.
Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security
On October 31, 2000, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously adopted Resolution 1325. The resolution marks the first time the Security Council addressed the impact of armed conflict on women, recognized the under-valued and under-utilized contributions of women to conflict prevention, peacekeeping, conflict resolution and peace-building, and stressed the importance of their equal and full participation as active agents in peace and security.
UNSCR 1325 calls for:
l Increased representation of women at all decision
making levels in conflict prevention, management
l Attention to the specific protection needs of women in conflict, including refugees;
l Increased support for women peace builders and
consultation with women’s groups;
l No impunity for war crimes against women,
including gender-based violence;
l Integrate a gender perspective into UN peace
keeping operations and post-conflict processes and in UN reporting and Security Council Missions; and
l Guarantee women’s and girl’s needs during
rehabilitation and protect women’s human rights in
rebuilding civil society.
How can journalists use the lenses of conflict-
sensitivity and gender-sensitivity in their daily
work? This chapter provides practical tips on engendering Peace Journalism, based on the matrix in Chapter 1. For further tips and explanations, see references listed at the end of this guide.
l Include all sides in your reportage. Instead of focusing on the tug-of-war between two warring parties, try to change the shape of the conflict by covering all communities caught in the crossfire.
l Go beyond the demands of the leaders and the elite. Include the demands of the people, women and men.
l Treat the sufferings and fears of all sides as equally newsworthy.
l Men are frequently identified as the stakeholders in relation to their roles (for example, as farmers, carvers, merchants, committee members, warriors), women often are not. Identify relevant subgroups of women based on their roles and interests (for example, fuel collectors, farmers, market sellers, weavers, mothers, students).
l See women as actively changing their situation and not just as suffering victims.
l Women, as a group, are also not homogeneous as stakeholders. They, too, must be dis-aggregated into different groups of individuals.
l Use conflict analysis tools like conflict mapping in
order to learn of ways to re-frame a story.
l Distinguish opinions from facts. If someone
expresses something, state her/his name so it will
be reflected as her/his opinion and not the reporter’s.
l Be on guard for your own biases and prejudices as a
reporter belonging to a party involved in the conflict.
For example, a woman reporter must be aware and
wary of her biases in a conflict involving gender
Re-framing is a technique of shifting the perception of a situation or problem to give it a different and/or more constructive interpretation. In mediation and negotiation, this method is used to recast a conflict to break deadlocks and make further progress in attaining a joint resolution.
Journalists needs to be aware of the impact that trauma has on themselves and on others. This understanding can help the journalist tell a traumatic story knowledgeably and with appropriate sensitivity.
l Explain the ground rules—why you are there, what kind
of story are you going to write or report, how long the
interview will take, when it is likely to run and why it is
important for her/him to speak to you – are necessary
information for the survivor. Also ask the person to be
interviewed what she/he wants and does not want to
l Ensure that the interviewee has given informed
consent and understands the meaning of “on the
record”. Every person has a right to dignity so
information made public about their private life should
have their consent. You may need to check again
during and after the interview, especially if they are
giving details that could put them, or others, at risk.
l On the radio, it might be advisable to change the voice
of the interviewee. It might be dangerous for the
subject if certain people recognize her/his voice. In
the case of people who cannot talk for themselves
over the microphone, you can make them tell their
story and recount it as a narrator.
l Share control with the interviewee. A person jolted by
an event will appreciate a chance to decide some of
the conditions of the interview. Ensure that they
understand, and feel part of the whole process.
l Respect the other person’s efforts to regain balance
after a horrible experience. Your goal should be to
help them to communicate with you.
l Trauma affects memory, so be prepared for
contradictions or inconsistencies in the interviewees’
story. Gently replay or clarify their words.
l Be patient. A trauma survivor may often take time to
get to the point of their story. Let them tell their story in
their own way. Each survivor’s experience is unique.
l Anticipate emotional responses. When survivors cry
during interviews, they are not necessarily reluctant to
continue. They may have difficulty communicating, but
they often want to tell their stories. Interrupting them
may be experienced as patronizing and denying them
the opportunity to testify. You may be re-victimizing the
survivor. Give them time and a choice. In a live radio
program, have music ready in case the interviewee
starts to cry.
l Ensure that points considered important for the
interviewee are not missed. Be sure to ask “is there
anything you want to add that was left out?”
l Take precautions to ensure the safety of your
interviewee beforehand. Journalists cannot protect
people from what might happen to them because of
the media coverage.
Coverage of crimes against women and minors is often trivialized and sensationalized by the media. In times of war/armed conflict, journalists practicing Engendered Peace Journalism can focus on the invisible effects of violence, especially gender-based violence.
l Recognize that domestic violence is a public
problem that crosses all lines of race, class, and
l Report crimes of violence against women and
children factually and seriously.
l Take the opportunity to inform your audience with
wider contexts, including statistics.
l Eliminate details or descriptions which tend to
titillate the audience and sensationalize the story or
ridicule the survivor.
l Highlight the survivor’s efforts in defending her-/
himself instead of the attacker’s moves.
l Survivor-bashing, as well as the language and
ways of questioning, that suggests that the rape survivor is somehow to be blamed for the crime is
not accurate reporting.
l Never divulge the survivor’s or suspect’s real name,
address, or other information that identifies her or
In covering conflicts, particularly armed conflicts and their aftermath:
l Ask women what solutions they may suggest and not just what they feel.
l Strive to find affected women and children and include their untold stories, opinions, goals, and solutions.
l Explore peace ideas and solutions wherever they come from. Put forward these ideas to the leaders and report their response.
l Sustain reportage on a peace process beyond the ceasefire and signing of a treaty. Make visible the efforts of women in post-conflict reconstruction and peacebuilding.
Language carries values in our society. There are hardly any words that are free of charge. We have to be careful how we use words, in what context, and what picture they create.
l Choose words that are accurate, non-violent, non- sexist, conflict-sensitive and gender-fair. For example, rape or assault is not “sex”—even when the attacker is the victim’s spouse.
l Use non-sexist, non-discriminatory terms and gender-fair and phrases. Be familiar with the new ways of saying and writing that places both women and men on equal footing. Women need to be visible.
l Words and phrases that perpetuate prejudices, biases and stereotypes (easy, nymph-like, sex kitten, prostitute, pretty, sexy, attractive, sex maniac) pass judgments on survivors and/or suspects.
l Choose descriptive words very carefully:
Ø Using the terms like “Muslim” or “Christian” as adjectives to describe criminals, suspects, and survivors of crimes, is branding them.
Ø Labels like “terrorist”, “extremist”, “fanatic”, or “fundamentalist” are always given by “us” to “them”. No one ever uses them to describe her-/himself.
Ø Adjectives like “vicious”, “cruel’”, “brutal” and “barbaric” are demonizing and describe one party’s view on what the other party has done.
Ø Words like “devastated”, “defenseless”, or “tragedy” only tells us what has been done. These are disempowering words that limit options for change.
United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security is binding to all UN member states. The media can play a role in monitoring the implementation of UNSCR 1325:
n Ask for interviews with all parties to the conflict on the implementation of UNSCR 1325.
n Consult local women’s organizations about their UNSCR 1325 monitoring processes and related demands.
n In peace or ceasefire negotiations, ask for the women’s representation on negotiation panels, referring to UNSCR 1325. In case no women are represented on the negotiation panels of the different parties, ask local women’s organizations what they intend to do about this violation of UNSCR 1325.
n If national or international armed forces and/or peacekeeping forces are being deployed to a conflict area, ask them if they received any gender training on women’s rights and UNSCR 1325.
n Ask the authorities of refugee camps and relocation sites how they address women’s needs and rights as guaranteed by UNSCR 1325.
n If a peace agreement has been reached, ask how UNSCR 1325 is reflected in the agreement and how much money is allotted to its implementation.
n In post-conflict reconstruction, ask local government, peacekeeping forces and national and international relief organizations, if they trained their personnel to respect women’s rights and UNSCR 1325. And how they will meet women’s needs and guarantee their full participation in post-conflict reconstruction as called by UNSCR 1325.
For more information on UNSCR 1325, visit www.PeaceWomen.org or www.un.org/events/res_1325.pdf.
Participatory Media Approach:
Focus on Community Radio
Journalists have the power to select “what to report and how to report it”. This creates an uneven power relationship between the journalist and the story subject. Participatory media approach, such as community radio, allows the people you report about to participate in your story. Discuss the program format or/and the article with them beforehand and overcome the power gap.
l Ask for their ideas and suggestions. Try to incorporate them as much as possible into the story.
l Give the community free rein to come up to produce their own program or story.
l Lend them your journalistic and technical skills.
l Advice them on format and assist them technically.
The subjects of the media stories become the creators of their own stories.
“…We are journalists who do our jobs of reporting news,
exposed to story after story, image after image of grief.
We hurt, too… Usually we are rewarded by having the opportunity to help. We do our jobs and we do it well and we feel gratified—even blessed. But for many of us, there are new emotional difficulties, and these difficulties can and should be addressed (Frank Ochberg, 2001).
Journalists covering conflict situations face a real danger of emotional stress: they may be vulnerable to secondary traumatic stress disorder (STSD), to compassion fatigue or to survivor guilt. The symptoms of STSD are fear and anxiety, reliving unwanted memories, and a preoccupation with another’s pain. Compassion fatigue sets in as people become emotionally depleted. Journalist suffering from survivor guilt identify too much with their subjects, specially those who have lost loved ones, and sometimes blame themselves for not suffering a similar loss.
People who are regularly exposed to traumatic stress may experience reactions that are adverse to their mental and physical health, such as cynicism, isolation, excessive smoking or drinking, overeating or illicit drug use, anger, anxiety, avoidance, depression, and so forth. What journalists need to remember is that they may have a number of potential stress reactions when they write about stressful or traumatic topics.
Following are some self-care tips that journalists can use as suggested by The Dart Center for Trauma and Journalism:
n Eat regularly and healthily
n Get enough sleep
n Get regular medical care for prevention and rest when sick
n Exercise: dance, swim, walk, run, play sports, sing, or do some other physical activity that is fun.
n Take time off; have a vacation; make time away from telephones, computers and the internet
n Make time for self-reflection
n Meditate, write a journal or seek counseling,
n Notice your inner experiences — listen to your thoughts, judgments, beliefs, attitudes, and feelings
n Undertake activities that are unrelated to work, such as reading relaxing literature and watching movies; do something new or in which you are not expert.
n Be aware of personal limitations. Learn to ask for support and to say no to extra responsibilities.
n Focus on strengthening you self-esteem by giving yourself affirmations, praising yourself.
n Surround yourself with comforting people, objects relationships and spaces
n Allow yourself to feel the full extent of emotions, crying and laughter, pain and joy.
n Express your outrage through creative outlets such as social action, letters, donations, marches and protests.
n Identify what is meaningful to you and notice its place in your life such as being aware of non-material aspects, spending time with nature, and/or being with your spiritual community.
n Be open to the concept of “not knowing” or having all the answers.
Committee of Concerned Journalists. www.concernedjournalists.org
Cote, W. and Simpson, R. (2000). Covering Violence: A Guide to Ethical Reporting about Victims and Trauma. New York: Columbia University Press.
Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. www.dartcenter.org
de la Cruz, P. A. , ed., (2004). Women in the News: An Isis Gender Equality Toolkit. Philippines: Isis International-Manila.
Joseph, A. (2005). Gender, Media and Tsunamis. India Together, February 2005. http://www.indiatogether.org/2005/feb/ajo-genmedia.htm
Dagapioso, M.F., Lasaca , M. C., Miglioretto, B., Objaan, P. and Reyes, L.S.,(2007). Women Making Air Waves for Peace: Training Modules by Mindanaw Women Writers, Inc. and Isis International-Manila, www.isiswomen.org
Lloyd, F. and Ross, H. (2005). Gender, Conflict and Journalism: A handbook for South Asia. Kathmandu: UNESCO and Nepal Press Institute.
Lynch, J. and McGoldrick, A. (2005). Peace Journalism. London: Hawthorn Press.
InterPress News Service, (2000). Revised IPS Gender and Development Glossary. Rome: IPS .
Ochberg, F.(2001) “When Helping Hurts,” www.giftfromwithin.org/html/helping.html
Search for Common Ground, www.sfcg.org
Isis International-Manila is a feminist NGO committed to creating spaces within information and communications structures and systems, that promote the many voices of women, particularly those from the South. Isis believes women’s access and capacity to participate in generating and disseminating their own knowledge and experiences through various mediums of communication can lead to transformation of society. Isis is likewise committed to challenge inequities, stereotypes and cultural and political homogenization furthered by globalized media that hamper the realization of a more just, sustainable and humane world.
Mindanaw Women Writers, Inc. (Min-WoW) is a group of writers who work in media, academe or are community-based. Min-WoW’s priorities include nurturing the writers’ well-being, safety, craft and rights.
It trains its members and other interested community-based groups in narrative non-fiction, peace journalism, creative documentation, and new media.
Women Making Airwaves for Peace
A joint project of Min-WoW and Isis International-Manila using community radio and engendered peace journalism as tools for peacebuilding
The project consists of:
l Training Workshops and Training Modules
Ø Women’s participation in peace building
Ø Critical roles of media in conflicts
Ø Engendered peace journalism
Ø Transformative potential of community radio
l Radio Plugs on Culture of Peace and Cultural Diversity
The plugs were produced during the training in Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga and Cotabato by media practitioners.
l A Guide on Gender-sensitive Peace and Conflict Reportage
“Engendering Peace Journalism: Keeping Communities Whole”
All products of the project are downloadable at www.isiswomen.org
Isis Project Team: Raijeli Nicole (Project Coordinator); Aileen Familara (Project Manager), Bianca Miglioretto (Resource Person/Trainer), Marion Cabrera (Module Developer), Pretchie Obja-an (Trainer), Janice Lopez (Editorial Support)
Min-WoW Project Team: Lina Sagaral Reyes (Project Coordinator); Project Associates: Ma. Chona Lasaca, Terry Betonio, Ederlinda Fernandez, Imma Rae Dagapioso, Lowida Alcalde, Nena Undag, Sorhaila Latip-Yusoph, Elvie Manaytay, Amanah B. Lao, Felleen Donggay, Becky de Asis, Tess Superioridad, Jojie Jasmin Cabasan, Ellen Red, Helen Grace Uy. Resource Person/Trainer: Maisie Faith Dagapioso
Published by Isis International-Manila and Mindanaw Women Writers (Min-WoW), October 2007
This publication is an output of Women Making Airwaves for Peace: Using Community Radio & Engendered Peace Journalism as a Tool for Peace Building.