Global Media Monitoring Project 2020 needs volunteers

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Volunteers from Georgia monitor digital stories during the 2015 Global Media Monitoring Project. Photo: Contributed

Do you have a passion for either gender equality, women’s rights, human rights, or ethical journalism? Are you curious about how to unpack and analyze media content from a gender perspective? 

Would you or your organization like to take part in gathering data about how women are portrayed in news around the world?

If you do, the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) wants you as a volunteer for its 2020 research.

GMMP is the largest and longest longitudinal study on gender in the world’s media. It is also the largest grassroots advocacy initiative in the world aimed at changing the way women are represented in the media.

Every five years since 1995, GMMP’s pioneering research has measured the pulse of selected indicators of gender in the news media and studied women’s presence in relation to men, gender bias and stereotyping in news media content.

GMMP research is made possible, in large part, by a global network of volunteers, including academics, journalists and civil society activists.

In Mexico, a volunteer does her bit to hold media accountable on gender equality in newspapers. Photo: Contributed

“The GMMP would not be the GMMP without volunteers. It would not exist without the in-kind and cash contributions of volunteers that have made media monitoring possible and sustained it since 1995,” said Sarah Macharia, GMMP global coordinator.

Macharia underscored the importance of the GMMP as “the single, authoritative source of statistical evidence on the status of women and men in the news media worldwide,” which has captured changes or the lack thereof, across time and across world regions.” Its research findings continue to provide “the basis for policy change, media training, and awareness-building of ordinary audiences to advance gender equality in and through media practice,” she added.

The concern of women activists “to bring the issue of media accountability to the forefront of the debate on gender inequalities” inspired the GMMP, said Macharia.

The GMMP “aspires to news media that are professional from a gender-ethics perspective, that understand and uphold the central tenets of professional practice through gender lens,” said Macharia.

This is crucial given that GMMP findings have shown that “progress towards gender equality in news content has been excruciatingly slow,” she said. “At the current rate of change, it will take more than three quarters of a century to reach gender parity in sources and voices in the news.”


Senegalese volunteers code data from the 2015 Global Media Monitoring Project. Photo: Contributed

It has been 25 years since the first GMMP, but women’s points of view continue to be invisible in topics that dominate the news cycle, said Sara Speicher, WACC deputy general secretary. “Even on topics that affect women profoundly, such as gender-based violence, it is the male voice that prevails,” she said. “If our media are to be reflective of our world, it is apparent that these trends need to be transformed. The GMMP can be a step towards that change.” 

Becoming a volunteer

What does it take to become a volunteer? One must commit to learn how to apply the media monitoring methodology and tools, and use them to code their local print, broadcast and digital news on global monitoring day, said Macharia.

Volunteers are needed to also help mobilize resources for media monitoring in their countries. They will help spread the word about the GMMP through social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

In 2015, hundreds of volunteers from 114 countries mapped gender in the news and gathered evidence for the fifth research in the series. They analyzed 22,136 stories published, broadcast or tweeted by 2,030 distinct media organizations, written or presented by 26,010 journalists, which contained 45,402 people interviewed and/or subjects of stories.


Bhutanese volunteers hard at work during the 2015 Global Media Monitoring Project. Photo: Contributed

Among its key findings: the rate of progress towards gender equality in the media almost ground to a halt since 2010. In 2015, women made up only 24% of the persons heard, read about or seen in newspaper, television and radio news, exactly as they did in 2010.

In 2015, the gender gap was narrowest in stories about science and health –
the major topic of least importance on the news agenda, occupying only 8% of overall news space – where women made up 35% of the people in the news under this topic. In contrast, only 16% of women were present in political news stories, where the gap is widest and where women were 3% less visible than they were in 2010.

Will things be any different for GMMP in 2020, given the rise of the #MeToo movement? Be a GMMP volunteer and find out.

Apart from being in the know, volunteers who take part in the GMMP “become part of a vibrant global movement for gender equality in and through the media that is present in more than 100 countries worldwide,” said Macharia. “They gain entry into networks of mutual learning, sharing and support within their countries, regions, and transnationally.”

Volunteers also gain skills in scientific media monitoring and “a new critical media analysis lens that will forever positively change how they “read” and respond to media content,” she said.

People interested in becoming volunteer media monitors should contact Khodeza Hossain at