International Women’s Day is a global celebration of the contributions and achievements of women and girls around the world, but also a pivotal moment to recognise the persistent inequalities that perpetuate the gender divide. Though some progress has been made in recent decades, gains won on women’s rights are now regressing as a result of conflict, climate change, and economic and health crises, exacerbated by significant gender gaps in science and technology. UN Women warns we are 300 years away from achieving gender equality, calling for urgent collective action to tackle key challenges such as education, healthcare, and bridging the digital gender divide.
This piece outlines some of the ways in which the Foundation’s approach to advancing media freedom, fostering more inclusive economies and promoting human rights supports women and girls around the world, part of its broader mission to strengthen free, fair and informed societies.
Bringing women leaders together to promote gender-equal economic solutions
The Foundation spearheads a range of initiatives that help shape best practices in fostering equitable economies where everyone can participate, and their human rights are protected. Ensuring that such convenings reflect the expertise, views and lived experiences of women and girls is crucial.
Women leaders from around the world joined us at last year’s Trust Conference, the Foundation’s annual flagship event, calling for intersectional solutions to support a gender-equitable recovery after three years of global economic disruption exacerbated by the pandemic. The panellists discussed the importance of growing economies in ways that are sensitive to systemic inequality, because a failure to do so will leave marginalised groups behind. Bhumika Muchhala, Political Economist and Senior Advisor at Third World Network explained that, “women of colour, women in developing countries across the Global South, poor women, those who are structurally excluded and marginalised are hit the hardest; they become the shock absorbers of all of our crises…”
Amplifying the voices of women on critical issues
Women leaders from across the globe contributed their expertise throughout Trust Conference. Climate Justice Activist, Vanessa Nakate, delivered a powerful keynote address, calling for the world to abandon fossil fuels, highlighting the direct effects of increasing global carbon emissions on vulnerable and often marginalised communities in the Global South.
We also heard from Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who spent six years unjustly imprisoned in Tehran, as she reflected on her personal experience, as well as strength and unity of the women’s rights movement in the face of internet shutdowns, police brutality and detention by the Iranian regime.
Reframing reporting on Women’s Economic Justice in Africa
For 40 years the Foundation has supported independent journalism by training reporters around the world on key societal issues, promoting integrity, independence, and freedom from bias in news reporting. One such project aims to enhance reporting on women’s economic justice in Africa. The media plays a vital role in framing topical discussions that in turn can shape how the wider public receives, processes and understands this issue. In recognition of this, the Foundation hosted a six-week training workshop aimed at reframing the conversation and challenging conventional wisdom around what it would take for women to achieve full economic justice in Africa.
The workshop was attended by reporters and communications professionals from across Eastern and Southern Africa and explored systemic economic issues facing women, such as unequal pay and labour rights from a ‘solutions journalism perspective.’ Christine Mungai - a writer and journalist who co-led the workshop - said, “I’m hopeful that the impact of this training will continue to be felt in newsrooms across Africa and beyond, as media professionals work towards a more just and equitable society for women.” Read her reflections here.
Spotlighting the experiences of women and girls
Climate change disproportionally affects women and girls around the world, particularly in low-income countries which often bear the brunt of its effects.
Rapid techonologisation promises progress towards closing the gender gap, yet 259 million fewer women have access to the Internet than men, and many women do not feel safe online.
Through Context, a digital news platform which covers climate change, the impact of technology on society and inclusive economies, the Foundation explores these interconnected issues and their multi-layered human impacts. The Context news team spotlight critical women’s rights issues - from barriers facing women entrepreneurs in Africa’s fintech boom to progress and rollbacks on women’s representation globally and harnessing the digital revolution to empower women and girls. Context also amplifies the voices of women leading the charge for a safer, more sustainable and inclusive world through interviews and opinion pieces.
Championing women journalists
Every year, the Kurk Schork Awards in International Journalism honour courageous journalists, who report on pressing global challenges including conflict, corruption and injustice.
Winners of these Awards hail from countries all around the world. In 2021, Khabat Abbas from Syria received the prestigious News Fixer Award for her work in amplifying the stories of women on both sides of the Syrian civil war. Hear how winning this award has shaped Khabat’s reporting.
Tackling online abuse
Alarmingly, journalists around the world, particularly women reporters, are facing increasing levels of online abuse, often leading to psychological or physical harm and self-censorship.
Through delivering essential journalism trainings on critical topics such as mental health and wellbeing and the dissemination of online safety tools and resources, the Foundation helps protect women journalists from harassment. In 2021, the Foundation partnered with UNESCO, the International Women’s Media Foundation and the International News Safety Institute to develop a range of practical and legal tools for journalists. These resources include a Practical Guide for Women Journalists on How to Respond to Online Harassment, which is now available in a wide range of languages including: Arabic, French, Italian and Russian.
“The UNESCO/Thomson Reuters Foundation's practical guides for women journalists and newsrooms provide step-by-step assistance to women journalists and their allies. Available in different languages, they assist those women that face the same problem around the world: gendered attacks, designed to stop them from doing their job”
Guilherme Canela, Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists Section, UNESCO
These projects provide a brief insight into the wide range of initiatives and activities being delivered by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in support of gender equality and women’s empowerment. To learn more about the Foundation’s full scope of work in this area, please visit its organisational overview.