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    It is addressed to all colleagues interested in quality, honest, responsible and ethical journalism. In journalism that is looking for truth, justice, equality, and that in covering wars and conflicts is looking not for sensation, but for human destiny and possible ways of peace keeping and peace communication. Women reporters work a lot on this peace communication, in all countries of the globe. And we decided to start our discussion sharing reports and analyses of women journalists' experiences. And we hope that this experience of peace communication can help us to overcome hate speech which is so well spread in the media, and create a new language in the media that we need, a language of the future.

 
 
WE SHALL OVERCOME! PDF Print

Nadezhda Azhgikhina
Nadezhda Azhgikhina
The organization of 26th Congress of IFJ is a highly important event. Not only because it is the first time in more than eight decades such a representative forum is taking place in Moscow, in a country with a recent socialist past. And not only because the Russian professional community, like their colleagues from neighboring countries want to draw attention to the problems and needs of journalists in the region, to the needs of independent media and to the situation with freedom of speech, which needs more and more support in the newborn democracies.

      The point is, that this is the first time we have had an opportunity to see up close the work of a truly democratic professional federation based on principles of self-regulation and protection of the interests of its members. This means that we can look at ourselves from the outside and try to answer very difficult questions. For instance, why, after gaining the so long awaited freedom from censorship, we could not realize our hopes and expectations? What should we do in order to win back society’s lost confidence in mass media? How can we become a part of the global professional community? This is very important, because it is no secret that even fifteen years after disintegration of the USSR and the end of Cold War, Russian journalists together with their colleagues from neighboring countries are living in a kind of journalist ghetto. We are not fully integrated into the large international community, and we have very vague idea about its rules and norms. And the problem is not only in language barriers; our problem is in our conceptual detachment. For many years the idea of trade unions was perceived negatively, a leftover from the Soviet past. The idea of social protection and professional solidarity, being understood today as problems of losers and incapable people, was undermined by glossy images of the market and free competition, perceived as the only guarantee of freedom of the media. This all resulted in high vulnerability of journalists in Russia, and in most of the neighboring countries, a lack of realistic strategies for protecting the interests of media workers, and corruption among public officers and media tycoons. Now is the time to learn from the experience of our colleagues and to make positive decisions.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that including a gender component into the main agenda of the Congress is a real revolution for our journalist community. It is a sign of hope. Feminization of the profession in Russia, and far and wide in post-socialist territories, is an unavoidable process, though very controversial and not really described or understood. Unlike in most Western countries, where an increase in representation of women in the profession is a sign of democratization of the industry and humanization of working conditions in media, in our region feminization is accompanied by a lowering of the status of the profession, increase in risk and dangers and marginalization of journalism in general. The situation allows one to suppose that transformation of the economy was followed by an obvious violation of the rights and opportunities of women—who suffer the most from destruction of the social welfare systems and are forced to struggle for survival at the cost of their own health and professional ambitions in the post-Soviet countries. After the USSR collapsed, many women entered positions that were previously inaccessible to them. Some of these women paid for their new status with their lives.

 Russian journalism, in fact, has a female face.

 The revolutionary gender component of the Congress provides a new opportunity for professional discussion and brings the discussion on working and living conditions of our colleagues to a much higher level. It is no secret that after disintegration of the USSR and elimination of Soviet ideology the idea of equal rights and opportunities evoked cynical reaction from many media leaders. The first attempts by the Association of Women Journalists (an organization initiated in the early 90s by men and women from Russia and the CIS) to analyze the gender situation in regional media have not received appreciation and recognition from colleagues. Already in the mid-90s shocking data about gender discrimination and sexism in the media attracted much attention. Russian and international programs dedicated to the study of the phenomena of post-socialist sexism and to the support of women in media led to the establishment of several regional professional networks, in order to develop original editions and projects, mainly in the regions. The real breakthrough was participation of members of these networks in UNESCO and UN conferences, and the IFJ Congress in Seoul in 2001. This is when the IFJ gender project was launched, and the latest output of it you are reading now. This collection represents different key documents of IFJ and speeches of participants of International gender projects, as well as the summarized results of the first study of the gender landscape of post-soviet media territory. The study is a joint project of JUR and IFJ, a unique project opening wide opportunities for future development of new associations and unions (which do not exist today in most of the countries of the region), and in real protection of the rights of journalists in general.

It is hard to overestimate the support provided to the project by the IFJ Secretariat and its Secretary General — Aidan White, who opened a working group meeting of gender experts in Moscow in January 2007. His clear words, that unions would not be able to protect the rights of journalists if they do not provide for equal opportunities in the first place, had serious impact and were a revelation for many. In the post-Soviet cultural space, such symbolic events can very often open up new, previously inaccessible opportunities. And even more important is the introduction of a concomitant gender program within a framework of the Congress, which brings together dozens of journalists from different countries. Although we are very different, and most of the material published in this book may seem too exotic, hailing from successful Western reality and practice and from the activity of trade unions not common for our countries, it remains that any information gives us journalists a good foundation for thinking and drawing further conclusions. It is obvious today that the success of our industry, our activities, and our unions depends only on us.

Nadezhda Azhgikhina

RUJ Secretary, IFJ Gender Council member

 
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