International mechanisms

International frameworks and bodies can provide mechanisms to address gender inequality in and through media. They can ensure that states devote attention and resources to issues identified. It is important to understand international frameworks and bodies in order to use them in your advocacy efforts.

International mechanisms for freedom of expression

The Media Advocacy Resource Guide provides an overview of international mechanisms that promote freedom of expression and media freedom in general. This page looks specifically at international mechanisms that address gender and media.

This page provides more information about the following mechanisms:

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The AGEMI project has a full learning unit about gender-sensitive media policies, covering the the ‘why’ and ‘what’ of gender-sensitive and gender-responsive media and ICT policies.

Gender-based violence and media

The briefing note Legal frameworks: The nexus of gender-based violence and media by IMS provides an overview of the main legal frameworks – globally and regionally – that apply in the context of gender-based violence and media

Key international frameworks

Beijing Platform for Action

The Beijing Platform for Action of 1995 is the key international framework that recognises the importance of media in achieving gender equality. The declaration flagged ‘Women and the Media’ as one of 12 key areas where urgent action is needed to ensure greater equality and opportunities for women and men, girls and boys. It also laid out concrete ways for countries to bring about change.

Women and the Media – Section J of this framework – consists of two strategic objectives:

  • Strategic objective J.1. Increase the participation and access of women to expression and decision-making in and through the media and new technologies of communication.
  • Strategic objective J.2. Promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media.

The progress on the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action is reviewed every five years. 2020 constitutes the 25th anniversary of the declaration.


The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, is often described as an international bill of rights for women. Consisting of a preamble and 30 articles, it defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination. It does not cover the role of media and communication with regards to gender equality but is a key document in promoting gender equality.

Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted in 2015 and provide the main international framework for sustainable development. Goal 5 of the SDGs is to ‘achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’. One of the targets is to ‘ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life’. However, within this framework there is no specific target relating to the role of media in gender equality.

Policy agenda

Setting the Gender Agenda for Communication Policy is a publication by the Global Alliance on Media and Gender (GAMAG). It highlights the importance of media in achieving gender equality and the Sustainable Development Goals.

International bodies

UN Commission on the Status of Women

The UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is an inter-governmental body that was established in 1946 with a mandate to foster gender equality and the empowerment of women. Every year in March, the CSW convenes at the United Nations in New York and reviews the progress made on specific areas of the Beijing Platform of Action. In 2013 and 2018, Section J (Women and the Media) was reviewed during CSW.

UN Women

UN Women is the main United Nations entity for the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment. UN Women develops global standards for achieving gender equality, and works with governments and civil society to design laws, policies, programmes and services needed to ensure that the standards are effectively implemented and truly benefit women and girls worldwide. They initiated the Step It Up for Gender Equality Media Compact, an alliance of media organisations which are committed to playing an active role in advancing gender issues.

European Union

The European Union has a number of policies promoting gender equality. This includes the Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025, which aims to advance gender equality in its institutions and the 27 member states. One of the key objectives of this strategy is challenging gender stereotypes, with an important role for media to achieve this objective.

The EU Gender Action Plan (GAP) is the framework for the EU for promoting gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment in external relations in third and partner countries, as well as in international fora and agendas. Free Press Unlimited published a position paper with our recommendations for the GAP III 2021-2025. We believe that GAP III is the opportunity to make use of the EU global leverage to uphold the fundamental rights of women and girls in and through the media.

In 2018, the European Parliament also adopted a resolution on gender equality in the media sector, calling the European Commission and the member states to take action to address gender stereotypes and support the media in promoting gender equality.

Technical assistance to EU Delegations

As part of the Media4Democracy consortium, Free Press Unlimited provided technical assistance to EU Delegations to strengthen their ability to implement the EU Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline as well as the Gender Action Plan. Read more about this project.