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GLOBAL JOURNALIST: Women face challenges, showcase strengths in reporting

Friday, March 11, 2011 | 2:02 p.m. CST

In honor of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, Global Journalist held a live taping of its broadcast last night. The panelists, who represented four different continents, discussed their experiences working in journalism during the live Web broadcast and radio show. An audience of about 60 people also joined the conversation.

The discussion touched on the advantages that female reporters have over their male counterparts, the division of labor on certain beats and the challenges related to reporting in patriarchal cultures.

International Women's Day was first celebrated in 1911 when more than one million people attended rallies in Europe to demand women's rights to work. The holiday, recognized annually on March 8, celebrates the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.

Listen to this week's show.

Highlights from this week's show

You Li, doctoral student, Missouri School of Journalism (from China):

"When you talk about certain types of women, you have that cultural expectation of women in China. Traditionally, women in China are supposed to be family-oriented, dedicated to their kids, dedicated to their families or husband who make a living for the whole family … Now, when you are out of school, you can have a meaningful life. You can be single if you choose to be. You can choose to balance your personal life with your professional life … about 70 percent of women graduates choose the journalism program, but only half of them make the decision to go into the field."

Monica Villamizar, Al Jazeera English (from Colombia):

"In Haiti and other places that I've worked, being a woman has always actually helped me. Something that's important to keep in mind is that female war reporters are extremely necessary in conflict areas and war zones because many of the victims who are unfortunately civilian victims are women … Male reporters would have a very difficult time with interviews. In the particular case of Haiti, I was able to talk to women a lot easier and they shared more of the story with me … I think it does make difference when a reporter who is covering the story is a woman."

Salem Solomon, Missouri School of Journalism (from Eritrea):

"You are supposed to balance having a family, and we're expected to be a 'typical woman,' especially considering traditional society. You're not encouraged to continue your profession in that sense, especially in journalism. Being outspoken, going out speaking to people, speaking out to our nation (Eritrea) are somewhat seen as abrasive and seen as something not traditional or something that's not expected of a woman … It's quite a challenge."

Golnaz Esfandiari, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (from Iran):

"(The Iranian government) doesn't like women who go out and work … You look at the state of this in Iran, women who are working there, they aren't asking any tough questions … I interviewed a woman in prison, and she told me that even there, a woman's life is more difficult than a man's … She said that working women who are fighting for their rights are trying to change the fight."

Mary Kay Blakely, professor at Missouri School of Journalism, feminist writer (from the United States):

"I think it's hard because our institutions haven't changed either … We used to think of the business page as the men's page. The sports page wasn't the women's page either. We divide everything by gender. It's so important to have women looking at the economy and say, 'We have this whole huge layer of underpaid labor out there, and it's called motherhood.'"

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