AWA Forums are educational activities about sexism in media
During May-November 2020, AWA organized six discussion forums with students from the University of Tirana, the University of Elbasan, University-College Beder, The Academy of Arts, and Marin Barleti University; as well as a special forum with journalists and civil society activists. Except for the Academy of Arts seminar, all other forums were held online in the Zoom platform. Suela Bako, Ema Andrea, Sabina Kodra, and Rafaela Rica were speakers from AWA, while Valbona Sulce Kolgeci was the moderator. About 137 students, lecturers, and activists/journalists participated in these forums on sexism in media and emphasizing the tools to accurately identify and report such cases to AMA. AMA member Suela Musta participated in one of the forums, while in the last one the managers of the Metropol Theater brought their personal experiences of the sexist culture in the art sector. The forums were received very well in social media networks and the likes for AWA Instagram page increased substantially during this period.
Three explanatory videos about sexism in media were produced. The first one was an adaptation in Albanian of the seejane.org Institute. The second and third videos were made with Albanian audiovisual figures explaining what sexism in media is, why it is harmful and how we can prevent it. All the three videos have been shared on Facebook and Instagram and have received a considerable number of views and likes, especially the second video.
Around 100 students of Journalism and Media departments participated in the AWA forums. For most of the participating students, this was their first time engaging with the subject of sexism and gender discrimination in media. During the discussions, their stereotypical formation regarding the image of women in the media came to light. After the forums, they expressed that they will now have a different approach to media products and will be more active in reporting sexist products in the media. The students confessed that before the forums they did not know how to react against these contents; while now they know where to address their concerns. University of Prishtina students created an awareness video against sexism in song lyrics. This video was widely shared on AWA's Facebook page, serving as an example to be replicated by other students. The students also learned about the legal framework as well as the lack of legislation related to sexism in media and expressed their commitment to join any initiative that would seek to fill these gaps.
The lecturers who participated in the AWA forums asked to use some of the materials from the presentations as a reference for their students. At University-College Beder, where there is also a Women's and Girls' Club, they were committed to organize open lectures with audiovisual figures to constantly talk about this topic. The University of Elbasan will forward a request to the Ministry of Education regarding the revision of school textbooks for gender stereotypes- based on two studies conducted on this topic by lecturers and students from this university.
In October, AEWA launched a monitoring mini campaign with the title: #nomoremanels, which focused on talk show programs on main TV channels. The goal was to draw attention to the very low number of women participating in TV debates. After this campaign, one of the participants in the Forum sent us some personal monitoring that she had done after the first week, citing also the AWA campaign. Civil society activists also filed a report to the Albanian Media Council for an ethical violation of an article focusing on the clothing of Members of Parliament. Even though not unanimously, the board concluded that this was not a case of sexism. This result highlights the problematic nature of the existing legal framework, which does not clearly identify sexism in media - something that AEWA is working hard to amend.
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