Challenging gender stereotypes in the Vietnamese Media to catalyze social change The mass media is one of the most powerful channels of communication to reach Vietnamese people. A recent study found that terrestrial TV channels are watched by 86% of Vietnamese households. Voice of Viet Nam has wide coverage reaching 90% of locations throughout the country. Media agencies are shaping the development of Vietnamese society. The provision of information and generation of knowledge help create beliefs among many social groups, both urban and rural in Vietnam. It has been suggested that people readily believe what they read and hear from media sources. The media are important for people to express their grievances and concerns, and reach policy-makers and academia in addition to the mass public. However, through this power the media often create and enforce negative social norms that maintain an inferior role of women in society. Gender stereotyping and stigma appear significantly in most
media products which are seen to reach millions of receptive people in Vietnam every day. Studies conducted by Oxfam and Center for Studies and Applied Sciences in Gender – Family - Women and Adolescents (CSAGA) revealed that gender stereotyping and stigma appear significantly in most media products in which men are always considered strong, decisive, better at economics and politics and play important roles in leadership and critical thinking. Meanwhile, women were presented as gentle, responsible for taking care of children, and participate in housework and social activities in not-high-income positions. Oxfam and CSAGA have implemented the multi-year project “Challenging gender stereotypes in the Vietnamese Media to catalyze social change” since 2008. The project aims to seek observable change in the portrayal of gender issues and womens rights in the media, resulting in changing people’s attitudes and beliefs about gender relations, with the following outcomes:
Leaders/managers of Vietnam’s media regulatory agencies and leading media agencies have clear strategies, effective action plans and monitoring mechanisms to ensure gender sensitivity; Leading Vietnamese media agencies become pioneers in increasing coverage and quality of media products challenging gender stereotypes and promoting women’s rights; Journalists (including future-journalists) are gender sensitive, with no gender stereotypes in their media products; The target audience of leading media programs understands gender stereotypes, that gender discrimination is wrong, that womens rights are human rights, and that violence against women is a violation of human rights. Project’s approach is to work closely with the government media regulatory agencies (such as Central Department of Propaganda and Training, Social Affairs Committee of National Assembly, Ministry of labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, Ministry of Information and Communications) and leading
media agencies (such as Voice of Vietnam, Vietnam Television, and some other online and print newspapers) to promote the role of Vietnamese media in improving gender inequality and challenging the stereotypes within their own work and through their work, raise awareness of the issue to the wider public. In addition, the project also has collaborated with some universities such as Academy of Journalism and Communication, University of Social Sciences (Faculty of Journalism and Communication), and Hanoi National University of Education to improving the capacity on gender-sensitive communication for the students – the future journalists. Gender-based stereotypes continue in media in many parts of the world. Global Forum on Gender and Media will be a great event for various beneficiaries and other stakeholders to come together to learn and share. Oxfam would like to share what we have experienced both opportunities and challenges with this project during the event in relation to
promoting the roles of monitoring and management of media management agencies in reducing gender stereotypes in media; influencing the change in the awareness, attitude and behavior of the journalist/media leaders; improving awareness on gender equality and gender sensitive communication for lecturers and students of the journalism universities.