Dec 11, 2020 / 15:12

Vietnam becomes beneficiary of global project against sexual harassment in media

Vietnam is among five select Southeast Asian countries reached for the extent of sexual harassment in the media workplace.

Vietnam, together with four other Southeast Asian countries, has become the latest beneficiary of a project against sexual harassment in media industry by the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), one of the largest non-profit journalistic organizations in the world.

Sexual harassment in workplace remains underreported

Vietnam, together with Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and the Philippines will be reached for the extent of this problem in the ongoing Phase Two of a three-part project on addressing sexual harassment in the media workplace, spanning Sub-Saharan Africa, the Arab Region and Southeast Asia, according to WAN-IFRA Women in News (WIN).

The Southeast Asia study makes up the second phase of the project that is conducted in the partnership between WIN and City, University of London.

Widespread project

This phase of the research will run from November 2020 until March 2021, following Phase One which collected responses from Africa, specifically Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

This new study will look specifically at those regions in order to (1) Better understand the extent of sexual harassment in the media industry in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Arab Region and Southeast Asia; (2) Contribute to global data on sexual harassment in the media industry, by filling these regional data gaps; (3) Enable informed, evidence-based responses to sexual harassment in the media industry.

The research will be a combination of a survey of media professionals as well as interviews with media executives.

The survey is targeted at media professionals regardless of their gender, hierarchy or whether or not they have witnessed or experienced sexual harassment. It is being distributed to media organizations and regional and national media associations or industry partners.

The interviews will be conducted with media executives focusing on their perceptions about the problem of sexual harassment. Findings will be anonymized and no individual or organization will be named.

“We are pleased to partner with WIN to address the systemic issue of sexual harassment in the news industry. This is an international crisis that occurs in newsrooms around the world. Having the opportunity to record the personal experiences of news personnel will help us support news organizations tremendously,” said Lindsey Blumell, senior lecturer at City, University of London.

 Jen Teo, director, Southeast Asia, Women in News (left) and Norwegian Ambassador to Vietnam Grete Lochen

“In Asia, many deny that sexual harassment is a problem. But we know it remains pervasive and is therefore underreported. This research will bring out the figures and demonstrate the need for strong workplace policies prohibiting sexual harassment at work,” said Jen Teo, director, Southeast Asia, Women in News.

“Whatever the form, sexual harassment undoubtedly upsets the victim and can cause emotional harm, and physical and psychological trauma. It also causes decline in work productivity and job satisfaction. It’s therefore in the interest of individuals and of businesses to address this issue directly in their workplace,” Teo noted.

In a message sent in September 2020 to Vietnam’s female journalists and editors who participated in a sponsored career training program, Norwegian Ambassador to Vietnam Grete Lochen said “we should make zero tolerance for sexual harassment.”

Years-long efforts

In an initial study conducted by WIN in 2018, a significant gap was identified in the available data on sexual harassment in media specifically in sub-Saharan Africa, the Arab Region and Southeast Asia.

In an effort to tackle the problem, since 2018, WIN has developed a practical toolkit for media employers and employees to deal with and prevent sexual harassment in their media organizations.

WAN-IFRA Women in News (WIN) aims to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media.

In August 2020, WIN Leadership Accelerator program kicks off in Vietnam. The two-month career training for women journalists and editors will include sessions on career development, media management, and gender balance in content.

With Covid-19 changing the way news organizations operate, the program will help women journalists acquire new skills and build their capacity for more successful careers.

This WIN’s flagship leadership media development program is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). More than 600 women journalists and editors have benefited from the program since it first launched 10 years ago.

WIN is currently working with more than 80 media from 15 countries including: Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe (WIN Africa); Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine (WIN Arab Region); and Myanmar and Vietnam (WIN Southeast Asia).