The Multinational Monitor


R E V I E W S   O F   R E P O R T S

How the World Sees Women

Women in the Media
Paris, UNESCO, 1980. 119 pages
U.S.$ 7.00. UNIPUB No. U 1027

Mass Media: The Image, Role, and Social Conditions of
Women: A collection and analysis of research materials

By Mieke Ceulemans and Guido Fauconnier
Paris, UNESCO, 1979. 78 pages
U.S.$ 4.75. UNIPUB No. U977
Also available in French and Spanish

(Both of the above are available through
UNIPUB, 345 Park Avenue South,
New York, N.Y. 10010)

Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace
Report of the World Conference of the United Nations
Copenhagen, 14 to 30 July 1980
New York, United Nations. 238 pages
U.S.$18.00. Sales No. E.80.IV.3
Also available in Arabic, Chinese,
French, Russian and Spanish

These three recent United Nations publications provide a good guide to the literature and ideas of the 1970s with regard to international approaches to the socio-cultural status of women. Prepared as direct or indirect follow-ups to the events of International Women's Year (1975), each of the reports document several different aspects of the way women are perceived, portrayed, restricted and yet depended on in societies throughout the world.

Women in the Media presents the results of a UNESCO survey of women's job opportunities in the radio, television and film industries, and of the way women's roles are portrayed in these media. Statistics and examples from Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States are presented and compared; findings from other countries are included where available. The picture which emerges is a depressingly familiar one: although nearly as many women as men are employed in the world's radio, television and film industries, they are much more likely to hold secretarial jobs or to be production or research assistants than to work as directors, producers, stage managers, anchorwomen or editors.

In a section on "Images of women in the media," compiler Jerzy Toeplitz (director of the Australian Film and Television School in New South Wales, Australia) summarizes the female role stereotypes seen and heard around the world, in advertising as well as regular programming and films. Also included are statistics on women's participation in education for media positions, both as students and as teachers.

The second part of Women in the Media is the report of a UNESCO symposium on "Women in Cinema," held in St. Vincent, Italy in July, 1975. Twenty-eight film directors, producers, actresses and critics from 16 countries participated in the symposium. The report includes interesting interviews with many of them-including Egyptian actress, film-maker and producer Atiat EI-Abnoudi, Argentinean film-maker Maria Luis Bombers, and French film-maker Agues Varda-about their own thoughts and experiences concerning sex discrimination in their work.

As an appendix, the booklet includes the text of the U.N. Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, adopted by the General Assembly on November 7, 1976.

A much more comprehensive and thorough bibliographic survey of the books, articles and reports written in the past decade about women in the media is contained in Mass Media: The Image, Role and Social Condition of Women. The authors-both of whom work in the Department of Communication Science at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium-succeed in summarizing the large body of data in a readable and organized way, making it accessible to both general-interest readers and persons researching more specific aspects of the topic.

Images of women in advertising, broadcasting, film, and the press are discussed, and each of these categories is broken down by geographical region as well as by type of programming or publication. A second section discusses the professional status of women in mass media by industry and region. Full citations for all the references mentioned are included.

Mass Media is an invaluable aid for anyone collecting material on women's studies or the international media. Researchers will appreciate the short-cut it allows by summarizing and grouping references so that only those of interest need be tracked down. The report fairly bursts with ideas for seminars, term papers, and courses on the subject-no journalism or film school, women's studies program, or international affairs department should be without it.

The voluminous resolutions and decisions of last year's stormy U.N. conference on women, held in Copenhagen, Denmark, cover topics ranging from prostitution to women in the United Nations Secretariat, family planning to migrant women and women refugees to battered women and violence in the family. The conference's Report is its final document, containing the "Programme of Action for the Second Half of the United Nations Decade for Women" adopted by the conference, along with a summary of the proceedings and the texts of the 48 resolutions and decisions passed.

Useful as an historical document and a reference, the report summarizes the prime concerns of the 145 nations and dozens of organizations which were represented at the conference. As with many United Nations efforts, the report's level of generality tends to obfuscate the pressing and immediate importance of the issues under discussion. In the Programme for Action, for example, the document states, "The United Nations and its organizations should, in cooperation with national governments, develop strategies for increasing women's participation in the social, economic and political life, ensuring full and effective participation of women in all sectors and at all levels of the development process, including planning, decision-making and implementation . . . " Would that it were so easy.

- P. P.

Other Recent Reports

Fibres and Textiles: Dimensions of Corporate Marketing Structure

This study examines how multinational corporations dominate the fibres and textiles industry. Written by officials of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the impressive 249-page report details the power of giant commodity firms and the weakness of developing country producers in all aspects of the industry: cotton production, cotton trading, petrochemicals and chemical fibres, textiles, and textile end-uses.

For instance, the report shows that developing countries which produce over 80 percent of the world's cotton do not have much say over pricing, since 15 multinational trading companies control 85-90 percent of globally marketed cotton. As a result, the developing countries are "relegated to a role of accepting widely oscillating prices with their accompanying deleterious impact, particularly for countries that depend on cotton as a major source of export earnings and development finance."

For a copy of this report, send $18.00 to:

U.N. Publications
New York, N.Y. 10017

The Cerro Colorado Copper Project and the Guaymi Indians of Panama

This monograph, written by Chris Gjording, S.J., provides a thorough account of how multinational corporations are uprooting indigenous people in Panama. The 50-page report - replete with charts, graphs, tables and maps-will serve as a useful supplement to the information Gjording presented in last month's Multinational Monitor.

For a copy of the report, send $2.50 to:

Cultural Survival, Inc.
11 Divinity Avenue
Cambridge, MA 01238

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