FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION SRI LANKA

For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya

An Assessment of Female Participation in Mainstream Media in Sri Lanka

INTRODUCTION
This report presents the findings of the rapid assessment that Social Indicator (SI), the survey research unit of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) conducted on behalf of the Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) to understand the female participation in the mainstream print and electronic media in Sri Lanka.

The SLPI designed and commissioned this study as they believed that despite the significant developments in the media industry in the past decades, the status of female journalists in media institutions have not changed in respect to gender equality in line with the developments that the industry has witnessed. Furthermore, the common perception the world-over is that the number of females breaking through the glass ceiling to reach senior positions is rising at a slow pace.

Despite this common perception, the SLPI has observed an increase in the number of female students joining journalism courses conducted by the Sri Lanka College of Journalism (SLCJ), one operational arm of the SLPI. However, due to the lack of professional research studies in the field of journalism, the SLPI is unable to conclude that this increasing trend in the enrollment for courses on journalism is really reflected in the industry. Further, there is no available data to understand the status of females within the industry – the positions they hold, their impact on the industry, their career progress etc. in order to understand the substantive aspects of a female’s role in journalism.

In this context, the study endeavors to provide a preliminary understanding of the status of females in the field of journalism in Sri Lanka. Hence this study inquired for information regarding the male/female composition of journalists in mainstream media in Sri Lanka and aims to identify the extent of the participation of female journalists in journalism activities and what factors support or limit their participation.

This study was conducted using a combination of both quantitative and qualitative research approaches. Whilst the quantitative study was aimed at understanding the distribution of male/female journalists within mainstream media institutions, the qualitative study at selected institutions aimed to capture more detailed information about attitudes, perceptions and experiences of female journalists to understand their status within the media industry. The data collection of the study was conducted from April to mid-July 2011 and approached 32 Newspapers (12 Companies), 34 Radio Stations (16 Companies) and 17 TV Stations (11 Companies). However, despite repeated efforts, the SI research team could not receive information from some media institutions and therefore this study is limited to only 31 Newspapers (12 Companies), 22 Radio Stations (10 Companies) and 7 TV Stations (5 Companies). Nevertheless, as the study has managed to collect data from 60 of the 83 selected institutions and provides a good reflection of the Sri Lankan media, the findings of this study will make a valuable contribution in enhancing the knowledge about the current status of female journalist in Sri Lanka while contributing to the discussions and interventions aimed at encouraging gender equity in Sri Lankan media.

SI-CPA would like to express its sincere gratitude to Mr. Waruna Karunatilake, Ms. Sharmini Boyle, Ms. Fiona Barton and Mr. Namal Perera for their valuable contribution on designing this study. It is important to mention that without the kind assistance extended to us by Mr. Imran Furkan, Ms. Anuradha Herath and Ms. Aanjanee Seneviratne at the crucial stage of data collection, this study would not have been a reality. We would also like to thank all the print and electronic media institutions for their participation in the study and their staff members for their assistance in data collection.

Read the full report here SLPI

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