Media professionals discuss challenges in addressing violence against women in politics and elections


 Journalist Merita Haklaj at the media forum discussion. Photo: UN Women Albania
Journalist Merita Haklaj at the media forum discussion. Photo: UN Women Albania

Around 20 journalists and media experts joined the media forum on "Media and Violence Against Women in Politics and Elections" organized prior to Albania’s Local Elections taking place on the 14th of May, by UN Women and its partner organization "Together for Life". Participants in the event discussed the various challenges faced by women in politics and elections and the crucial role of the media in addressing them.

The forum provided the journalists with a space to share their personal experiences and perspectives on the topic and to discuss ways of creating a safe and inclusive environment for women's participation in politics which encourages women's involvement in decision-making processes. This event is part of a larger intervention being implemented by UN Women, on the role of the media in promoting ethical and gender sensitive reporting during elections.

In his welcoming speech, Mr. Michele Ribotta, UN Women representative in Albania, emphasized: "At the central level, we see more women leading political discussions in the country and this is very good. But this must also be reflected in local governance".

Ms. Rachel Weston, Regional Policy Specialist at UN Women Europe & Central Asia office, drawing on global experience, described how violence against women in politics prevents the implementation of women’s political rights, affects women in civil society, and, by the same token, indirectly affects women journalists who are also subjected to harassment.

“In the electoral context, violence against women affects their participation as candidates, voters, activists, electoral workers, or any other type of involvement in the electoral process. Especially women who are active in the political sphere or in organizations for the protection of women's rights are targeted through shame, harassment, and violence. The phenomenon is most pronounced during the electoral process. It is a phenomenon that men in politics do not experience,” Ms. Weston noted.

Ms. Estela Bulku, UN Women Head of Programs in Albania, presented a monitoring study carried out during the April 2021 local elections, which focused on violence against women during elections and gender inequality in media coverage. “We tried to bring evidence from the media, since one of the social actors that reinforces violence against women in politics is also the media," Ms. Bulku said.

Media expert, Mr. Artan Fuga, and law expert, Ms. Eralda Methasani, contributed significantly to the conversation by touching upon issues such as sexism and stereotypes that perpetuate gender discrimination in the media.