Empowering Women and Girls Through Media and Communication
The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media is the only research-based organization working within the media and entertainment industry to engage, educate, and influence the need for gender balance, reduce stereotypes, and create a wide variety of female characters for entertainment, targeting children ages 11years old and under. During the Social Good Summit, actress Geena Davis, the founder of the Institute, spoke about how to empower women and girls in a variety of discussion groups.
In the session "Empowering Women and Girls: Hollywood, the United Nations and the Influence of Media," Davis spoke with the publisher of Variety magazine about the Institute’s use of research, education, and advocacy to alter how girls and women are reflected in the media. The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media spotlights staggering gender inequalities in the media, such as males outnumbering females 3 to 1 in family films as well as the hyper-sexualization of females. According to Davis, all of these negative portrayals could roll back hard-won progress in achieving the UN-backed MDG Goals designed to improve global living standards. Because the media plays an influential role on social attitudes and behavior, stereotyping women in the media can undermine economic development and may perpetuate violence against women.
The US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the cost of intimate partner violence – rape, physical assault, and stalking – to society is more than $5.8 billion a year, including $4.1 billion in direct medical and health-care costs. Most countries, however, have still not done enough to address the problem, according to a report published earlier this year by UN Women, the agency that directs UN activities on gender equality issues globally. For example, few countries have enacted legislation making rape within marriage a crime. Davis shared the staggering statistic that 80 percent of media comes from the United States. “We are the ones exporting the negative images of women," she said.
For more information on gender and health, access the Peace Corps Women in Development/Gender and Development Toolkit.
Elsie Mwaniki is a Program Specialist at Knowledge for Health.