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IJC Study: Gender Issues, Lacking on the Agenda of Election Candidates and the Media

10 December 2019
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According to the conclusions of the report on monitoring men and women candidates’ public speech from a gender perspective, gender perspective was not a priority neither for election candidates of both genders, nor for the media, that organised election debates during the election campaign for the new parliamentary elections of 20 October 2019 in the constituencies No. 17, 33, 38 and 50.

The report, prepared by Independent Journalism Center, includes the results of monitoring the election debates from six media outlets and personal/public pages of seven election candidates on Facebook. There is also a case study on constituency 17, with comparative analysis of 5 male candidates’ speeches.

Topics from the gender agenda were found in the public speech of election candidates of both genders only in three cases. They include the failure to observe the 40% gender quota on voter lists of some political parties in the 2019 local elections; psychological assistance for women working as family caregivers; protecting Orthodox faith and family values.

The dialogue between the election candidates, during debates, where both women and men were present, was based on the polemic of ideas, personal or party’s actions. The sexist labels and attacks harming the person’s dignity were found only in several situations. This is due to either political maturity of actors involved, or the fact that several media outlets (Radio Moldova, Moldova 1, Albasat TV) provided for rules that prohibited calling to public violence, incitement to hate or discrimination, harming dignity or reputation of other person and public insult.
The language used by most candidates and journalists of both genders was not gender-balanced. In most cases, when appealing to female persons, the masculine form of nouns for functions, positions of candidate, president, MP was used instead of feminine one. Appeals formed by an embedded masculine plural form of nouns were also used (esteemed citizens, dear voters, dear fellow citizens, dear friends), through which female audience was excluded.

The report recommends candidates of both genders and media outlets to take into account current issues from the gender agenda. These issues should be included in all candidates’ programs and particularly of women candidates, who intend to join the Parliament and who face a number of cases of gender discrimination in both private, public and political life. Candidates and journalists of both genders must use fair, appropriate and gender non-discriminatory language in debate shows and other media products.

This report was produced by the Independent Journalism Center with the support of the East Europe Foundation, from the resources provided by Sweden, and with the support of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and UKAID.
The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funders.