Media4Democracy: promoting freedom of expression with the EU

Target group

EU Delegations


EU Delegations, journalists and media organisations in the countries where the EU Delegations are active.

Other stakeholders

Media4Democracy consortium members: Particip, Article19, Deutsche Welle Akademie, European partnership for Democracy and Thomson Foundation.

Country Partners Budget Duration
Global, Malaysia, Burkina Faso Media4Democracy consortium 2017-2021
Theory of Change Themes Donor
Intermediate Outcome 1, Intermediate Outcome 2, Intermediate Outcome 3 Enabling environment, Gender equality in media content, Gender equality in the workplace, Safety of journalists European Union (EIDHR)


According to Freedom House’s data of 2019, media freedom has been deteriorating around the world over the past decade. The majority of the global population lived in countries that are not free or partly free. A free press is essential for a functioning democracy: it helps citizens make informed decisions and keeps power in check.

The European Union (EU) has long supported the development of inclusive democracies beyond its own member states. In 2014, it adopted the EU Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline, which spell out how principles of free expression should be incorporated in EU democracy support in third countries. About 140 delegations in countries all over the world are tasked with implementing these guidelines. They include the combating of violence against and persecution of journalists as well as the promotion of media freedom and pluralism.

The Media4Democracy is an EU-funded Technical Assistance Facility strengthening the European Union Delegations’ ability to implement the EU Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline. The Media4Democracy team in Brussels is backed by a Consortium of prominent European organisations from the field of freedom of expression, media development and democracy support: Article19, Deutsche Welle Akademie, European Partnership for Democracy, Free Press Unlimited and the Thomson Foundation.

Overall objective

Giving advice and providing expertise and materials to EU Delegations in the areas of safety of journalists and gender equality in and through media.

Free Press Unlimited’s role in this project is to support the European Union Delegations’ efforts in the field of freedom of expression by providing advice on safety of journalists and gender equality in and through the media.

Intended outcomes

  1. Development of a handbook on Safety of Journalists for EU Delegations, which contains tools and hands-on examples of what EU Delegations can do to protect journalists.
  2. Provision of Technical Assistance to EU Delegations, aiming to strengthen the delegations’ work addressing gender issues in the media sector. The main aim of this service is to provide EU Delegations with context analysis and guided discussions to formulate near- mid- and long-term strategies for advocacy, programming and other engagements to empower women and girls through media and information access.


Development of a handbook on Safety of Journalists for EU Delegations, and provision of an information note and outreach content for The International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists (2 November).

Delivery of tailored Gender & Media packages for EU Delegations in Malaysia and Burkina Faso. This included:

  • An assessment that evaluates the representation of women and girls in media
  • Providing the EU Delegations with recommended actions to strengthen media in support of gender equality in the countries where they work.
  • Stakeholder meetings to discuss the findings and discuss the recommendations

Achieved outputs

Safety of journalists

Free Press Unlimited created an annual overview of trends in journalists’ safety for delegations to stay informed on developments.

Furthermore a Safety of Journalists handbook was developed that provides practical information about threats to journalists, and examples of EU Delegation actions to respond to urgent threats to journalists. The Handbook includes practical suggestions for longer-term efforts and programmes to enhance journalists’ security and, importantly, to fight the impunity for violations and crimes against journalists. The official launch of the Handbook will go hand-in-hand with a webinar for EU Delegations near the end of October 2020, to coincide with the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists on 2 November.

Gender equality

A methodology for gender assessment was developed, which was applied in two countries and resulted in a gender assessment in Burkina Faso and Malaysia, including recommendations for the EU Delegations.

More than 20 Malaysian women’s and media organisations came together in Kuala Lumpur in March 2019 to discuss with the EU delegation how they could jointly tackle gender stereotyping in Malaysian media.

In October 2019, in Burkina Faso a cross-sectoral meeting of women’s organisations, media organisations, media development organisations and governmental agencies in Burkina Faso was organised, together with the EU Delegation. The group reviewed potential actions to build gender equality by improving women’s representation in media content, expanding women’s roles and leadership in media institutions and finding means to change mentalities stemming from the strong patriarchal context.



Achieved outcomes

Safety of journalists

In 2018,EU Delegations used the information note and outreach content that was provided for 2 November.

Gender equality

EU Delegations are more aware of women’s representation in media sector and in media content in their country; they are familiar with the actions the EU Delegation can take to challenge stereotyping.

Role of FPU

As part of the Media4Democracy consortium, Free Press Unlimited provided consultancy and coordinated the development of the gender package and the handbook on safety of journalists. Free Press Unlimited built on its expertise in the areas of safety of journalists and gender & media and contracted experts within and outside the organisation for the activities.

More information

Website Media4Democracy

Protecting the safety of journalists, protecting freedom of expression – a handbook for EU Delegations

Media, Access to Information and ICT and the Empowerment of Women & Girls in Malaysia (Executive Summary)

Media, Access to Information and ICT, and the Empowerment of Women & Girls: Technical Assistance to the EU Delegation to Burkina Faso