New Delhi, 8 March 2021: Marking International Women’s Day, the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) urged its affiliates and journalists across the country to ensure that pay audits are conducted in their newsrooms and that anomalies in gender pay gap are removed. The IJU also joins the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) global campaign #PayMeEqual while marking the day and guaranteeing that both women and men should receive equal remuneration for work of equal value.
According to surveys, the global gender pay gap is estimated at 23%. This means that women earn on average 77% of what men earn. And unfortunately, journalism is no exception to that injustice. The gender pay gap is not linked to women being less qualified but rather to their access to highly paid positions being limited.
Obstacles to equal pay also include the lack of shared parenting responsibility and the fact that too few collective agreements have been adopted with solid provisions on reducing pay inequalities between women and men and balancing work and family life, says the IFJ. This apart, women have been disproportionately affected by the current Covid-19 crisis, which is exacerbating the gender inequalities that existed before. Many attempts to achieve equal pay, either through legislation or in negotiations have been frozen.
In a statement, IJU President and former member of Press Council of India Geetartha Pathak and Secretary General and IFJ Vice President Sabina Inderjit said that the fact that for many journalists unions the absence of gender disaggregated data and pay transparency in media are major barriers to bargaining to reduce pay inequalities, applies as well to India. This needs to be put right and women journalists must get their rightful due. The Unions, specially their gender Councils must take up the issue as top priority as the contract system if employment in the media has widened the gap.
The IFJ is launching a global survey together with Wageindicator to document the gender pay gap at a national level and support its affiliates in their call for equal pay. This survey https://wageindicator.org/salary/salary-survey/salary-surveys-journalism can also be used by individual journalists to compare their own wage to those in the profession holding similar positions.
Other measures to close the gender pay gap in journalism include the development of family-friendly workplaces, legislative change to improve pay transparency, for example, through company level pay audits, pay surveys, equality plans and income reports.
It has been pointed out globally that ‘too few media companies provide for full transparency regarding pay and bonuses’ and it the task of the unions to hold them accountable and disclose wages to evaluate whether all media workers, irrespective of their gender, receive equal remuneration for work of equal value.
The IJU said that we all must take a cue from the landmark equal pay victory against the BBC by its presenter Samira Ahmed, and member of IFJ afffiliate, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), in January 2020, wherein she was being paid six times less than her male counterpart. A concerted campaign and a strong will, said the IJU, can help not only remove gender pay gap but will sharpen the focus on prevailing gender discrimination.
DUJ Salutes on International Women’s Day
On International Women’s Day- the Delhi Union of Journalists(DUJ) salutes all intrepid women journalists who uphold the flag of free media today. We Salute too our male colleagues who support free speech and thought, democracy and equality in India today. We call for strengthening forces of communal harmony, peace and social justice amidst attempts to dismantle the secular fabric of the country by forces of jingoism.
Women journalists are braving many odds to find a space and voice in our society and our profession but are often targeted for their role. Trolling, doxxing, threats of rape and murder and even morphed pornographic photographs are used to silence media women’s voices. Our collective freedom is further threatened now as digital news media, OTT platforms and social media are sought to be throttled by new government Rules.
Privacy is a special concern for women but the digital media Rules require social media companies to disclose to several authorities all private chats, photographs and other materials, even those on encrypted platforms like Whatsapp and Signal. Disclosure could violate our dignity, our privacy and our data. Disclosure of private chats would also endanger our sources, seriously hampering our professional work. The Gender Council of the Delhi Union of Journalists demands the immediate withdrawal of the Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Codes) Rules, 2021 until suitable laws are enacted to protect privacy and prevent data piracy.
On International Women’s Day we condemn the intimidatory FIRs lodged against women journalists including Mrinal Pande, Barkha Dutt, Supriya Sharma, Ismat Ara and others and demand their withdrawal. We demand a law to protect all media persons from arbitrary charges, arrests and prosecution for doing their job. We regret the attempts by various forces to demonise critical journalism and simultaneously protest a Government sponsored labour code that is threatening the very existence of labour laws, security and fair wages in journalism and among the working classes at the behest of market forces.
We celebrate the recent victory of Priya Ramani who courageously fought and won a court battle on the issue of sexual harassment in the profession, against a formidable opponent. Her victory is a vindication of the #MeToo movement.
Behind our star reporters and anchors stand hundreds of less visible media women who staff editorial desks, research bureaus, production and design teams and a virtual army of freelancers. The Gender Council salutes today their invaluable contribution to the profession.
We also salute on this day all working women, especially the women farmers who are struggling for freedom from corporate control. Their visibility in photographs of the protests and their strong voices on camera remind us that lakhs of Indian women labour in fields and factories to keep the home fires burning and feed their children. We urge our colleagues to report on women’s contribution to nation building, not just on International Women’s Day but on all days.