Mrs. Project: A Powerful and Safe Voice for Women, Female Journalists and Citizen Reporters

Target group

Female journalists, citizen journalists, editors and staff of online platforms.

Beneficiaries

Journalists and staff trained, audience of online platforms.

Country Partners Budget Duration
3 countries in the Middle East North Africa region Several 358,377 Euro 2014-2016
Theory of Change Themes Donor
Intermediate Outcome 2, Intermediate Outcome 3 Gender equality in media content, Gender equality in the workplace Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Context

Women are underrepresented in Arabic and Turkish media: only 10-20% of the people in the news are women. Topics important for women are not covered by media or is presented in a very stereotypical way, focusing on children and the household. There is therefore a clear need for a space for women to express themselves and access information relevant to them, which is hard to find in the mainstream media.

Overall objective

Through establishing online platforms for women, the aim is to enhance the voice of women in the media, to strengthen the female voice in the public and media domain and empower female journalists in their professional capacities.

This should not only result in an increased representation of women and their stories in the media, but also show that women are an interesting target audience for advertisers.

Intended outcomes

  1. Strengthened female voice in the public and media domain: a stronger reach, both quantitatively as well as qualitatively, of the female perspective in the press and public debate in the three countries through a women-led innovative and secure media outlet.
  2. Empowered female journalists in their professional capacities: by securing a free and unchallenged media environment, training and support, the capacity of female journalists will be enhanced.

Activities

  • Setting up three media outlet, allowing for the distribution of content
  • Supporting a strong, advanced journalist sector with skilled staff, focusing on women journalists and network establishment. This includes:
    • Training staff and editors of the platform
    • Training reporters in investigative journalism and gender-sensitive reporting
    • Basic journalism training for citizen journalists.
  • Creating audience participation for active and interactive reading or viewing through a strong marketing strategy.

Achieved outputs

  • 3 Online platforms were established: one in each country
  • A total of 3,757 publications were published
  • A total of 142,713 page views were registered for the platforms
  • A total of 129,270 likes were gained on Facebook
  • In total 725,793 followers of the platforms and social media engaged with the content through (moderated) discussions and content-sharing
  • A total of 15 editors/staff were trained
  • A total of 101 (citizen) journalists were trained

Achieved outcomes

Outcome 1 – Strengthened female voice in the public and media domain:

  • In Turkey, the online platform has become the mouthpiece of the organization, which is striving to reach gender equality mainly through advocacy. It served as an effective tool for advocacy. The main success lies in raising awareness on gender equality and in specific women rights. Furthermore, it contributed to improving the female perspective in the public and media domain, by using gender-sensitive language and describing situations form the perspective of patriarchal norms and values.
  • In Iraq, the female perspective in the public domain was strengthened by providing female journalists with a platform to voice their opinions on topics which are important to women, and for which there is usually no time and space in traditional Iraqi press rooms. A high number of articles were written on women’s rights and their overall position and role of women in the conservative society, such as their financial well-being.
  • In the last country, the project achieved an improved female perspective and more emancipated image of women amongst (male and female) media consumers, stimulating debate and discussion in the public sphere. This was done through a focus on audience participation on the website and Facebook page, presenting a positive and powerful female voice and report about women breaking taboos and challenging stereotypes

Outcome 2 – Empowered female journalists in their professional capacities:

  • In Turkey, many of the women that were involved in the project experienced a feeling of empowerment and have become more active in their communities and started to engage in public life (in a country where it is not a norm for women to actively involve themselves in public life.
  • In Iraq, the project provided female journalists with a network of like-minded colleagues and they were able to develop their skills in writing for an online media. The project has provided the female editors with an opportunity to continuously improve their professional skills and a safe working environment where they feel supported and empowered.
  • In the third country, the journalists trained have not only improved their skills, but also have been introduced to a bigger network of reporters. They are contributing to strengthening the female voice in the public media domain and are loyal group of followers of the platform and strong advocates for women’s rights.

Achieved impact

The impact of the project lies in different campaigns and articles by the established platforms. For example, in Iraq a returning topic on the platform was the position of internally displaced women and refugees. The challenges they face were consistently addressed resulting in advocacy for the improvement of food distributions in IDP camps and for the continuation of girl’s education. The platform also contributed to a campaign for the rights of female prisoners, holding authorities and prison management accountable for the well-being of female prisoners, once they were allowed to leave. This resulted in a response from the relevant institutions to find a solution.

In Turkey, the platform was a place for large campaigns, for example campaigns for transgender rights and laws that use gender-neutral language.

In the third country, stories were published about women breaking taboos and challenging stereotypes. For example by publishing stories on women working in ‘male professions’, a more emancipated image of women among media consumers was promoted, as well as stimulating debate and discussion in the public sphere. The platform has a clear name and brand and is regarded as the go-to organisation in this country on gender-related news.

Role of FPU

Free Press Unlimited initiated and coordinated the project. The organisation connected the organisations in three countries with each other. Two of the platforms continued receiving support from Free Press Unlimited after the Mrs. project ended.

Lessons learned / Challenges

The active engagement and participation of renowned journalists turned out to be more successful than the participation of citizen journalists. It was found that safety concerns as well as the family and social context inhibited women citizen journalists to speak freely and further participate in the platforms. In one of the countries, the priority and focus has been put on stories being written by the editorial team as to ensure the needed editorial quality to have a stronger quantitative reach.

The use of social media channels was crucial in promoting disucssions and open debates amongst readers.

Irregular and weak communication with partners (partly due to staff changes) has led to insufficient response to emerging needs that arose throughout the project implementation, including training and coaching and security needs.

More information

Project evaluation by UBORA, 2016

Iraqi women present dissenting views online, 9 May, 2017