You are here

Women journalists experience increased gender inequality during pandemic

July 24, 2020 - 12:00 AM

July 24, 2020

TORONTO – Women journalists are reporting an increase in gender inequality during the COVID-19 pandemic, as more than half say they have personally experienced an escalation in a new International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) survey released today.

“The expectations and pressures are not divided equally. Clearly women journalists are bearing the brunt of the impact of this pandemic, as are women across industrial sectors,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “Media outlets and unions alike must make gender equality a priority in their pandemic plans.”

The IFJ survey, which polled 558 women journalists in 52 countries, found the increase in gender inequalities have led to devastating consequences on their work/life balance (62%), and work responsibilities (42%).

Among Canadian respondents almost 6 out of 10 said that COVID-19 has increased gender inequalities in the industry, with 8 out of 10 reporting an increase in stress due to lack of childcare, managing multiple duties while working from home, fear and psychological impact of covering the pandemic and concern over loss of work or income.

Unifor joins the IFJ, the world's largest organization of professional journalists, in its demand that media companies and trade union organizations take concrete steps to provide women workers with decent working conditions.

Unifor has launched a membership survey on the impact of working at home on all media workers, to investigate priorities and determine needs.

“Our union will be engaging with members, media employers and governments to address gender inequality and to push for action on priorities including access to childcare for these essential workers,” said Lana Payne, former journalist and the first woman elected as Unifor National Secretary-Treasurer.

The survey also found that as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic:

  • Over ¾ of respondents saw their level of stress increase, half of them pointing at multiple tasking as the main cause;
  • More than half of the respondents said their health had been affected which resulted for almost ¾ of them in sleeping problems;
  • More than half of the respondents said unions have not developed any specific strategies to tackle gender inequalities during the pandemic;
  • A third of respondents report they worked “mainly from home” and another third has worked mainly in the office. 15% worked mostly in the field;

The IFJ survey was conducted between 19 -30 June.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector and represents 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future. Information about the union’s response to the pandemic, as well as resources for members can be found at unifor.org/COVID19

For media inquiries or to arrange a Skype or Zoom interview with Jerry Dias please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at kathleen.okeefe@unifor.org or 416-896-3303 (cell).