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By Alvaina Daniels, WCC UN Liaison Office Intern
Although the female presence in media has increased over the year, it is still significantly lower in comparison to our male counterparts. In order for women to be recognized in our significant role in global peace and its development, women must be informed constantly and sustainably with what is happening in the world and have the space for their voices to be heard. The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UN SCR 1325) was the first resolution by the Security Council specifically addressing the impact of war on women and recognizing women’s contributions to conflicts. UN SCR 1820 on sexual violence in conflict sought to follow up 1325 and the UN’s growing concern with violence against women by calling for greater UN reporting and attention to this issue (WACC 11).
These resolutions acknowledge the female participation in conflict resolution and call for further visibility of women within the political and social sphere through communication. Media, language, and representation are three vital features of communication where increased visibility could have been positive, but unfortunately has fortified negative stereotypes about women and their role in conflict situations and peace movements. As women, we need more accessibility to political reports, technology, and new outlets, not only to keep us informed, but also positive female representation within politics, news, radio, film, and television to reaffirm our involvement in global peace and security.
One organization that helps bring the voice of women to the public and political sphere is femLINKPACIFIC. femLINKPACIFIC works “with women from grassroots communities and to link Pacific Peacewomen’s notice of peace to advocate for a peace and security framework defined not just in military security and political terms, but also in terms of human security rooted in a combination of political, economic, personal, community, and environmental factors. femLINKPACIFIC created a modest mobile radio station femTALK 89.2. This “radio in a suitcase” circulates to women and their communities, providing them “a safe space” to speak and exchange their viewpoints. In short, femTalk 89.2 is community empowerment. Every broadcast is a chance to advance the potential that lies within female leaders in local communities to recognize critical development priorities as well as advise development programmes. All women are invited to discuss their opinions freely and view in a peaceful and productive manner. The radio has also been utilized to “advocate for the use of appropriate and accessible information and technology, for the role of women’s media as a platform for policy advocacy and bringing about peaceful change for all.” With this, femLINKPACIFIC hopes to achieve a true democracy in Fiji.
This type of communication must be utilized on a global scale to allow a global safe space for women. When women are in control of the media that portrays them, they have the freedom to speak not only the truth of how conflicts affect them, but also speak what is necessary to achieve peace in their countries and communities. Within the Christian faith, patriarchy is strongly evident. Still, the Bible has also presented strong female leaders such as Deborah the judge, Ruth, Abigail, and Esther, who courageously spoke directly to her husband the king in order to protect the future of the Israelites by allowing them to defend themselves in conflict. Women are called by God to be leaders in peace and in conflict.
Therefore, we need support not only from the global female population, but also our male counterparts. However, no one can speak for women except for a woman, and the lack of visibility for the female voice within global policy-making must be corrected by both women and men. More space should be created for women to speak within the public sphere, and “those responsible for the mass media have a duty to represent women’s concerns fairly and adequately” (WACC 5). This can only be done by the positive inclusion of women. Communication, no matter the medium, can make this possible.