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Ottawa, June 2, 2009 – Media Equal Voice in partnership with Media Awareness Network (MNet) today launched bilingual lessons for students in Grades 7-12 that explore media representation of gender in politics. Students from Glashan Intermediate School, in Ottawa, had the opportunity to try out the lessons.
The lessons are part of the Experiences project, initiated by Equal Voice which aims to engage young women in politics at all levels of government. A key component of the project is identifying and sensitizing young women to gender bias in media.
"Gender stereotyping in media impacts on the self-image and attitudes of young people," says Françoise Gagnon, Senior Program Director, Experiences. "We're thrilled that we are able to provide these valuable resources and help give youth the skills they need to think critically about the media messages they are absorbing that may shape their perceptions of women as political actors."
Despite accounting for 50 per cent of Canada's population of voting age and having won the right to vote and hold elected office over 80 years ago, women currently occupy just over 20 per cent of the seats in the House of Commons. With few exceptions, this number is reflected in municipalities, provinces, and territories across Canada.
These lessons seek to change this alarmingly low statistic by encouraging students to better understand how media messages about the roles of girls and women in society may discourage political engagement and by empowering young girls to become politically active and engaged in the political process.
"Through education today we can inspire more young women to become politically active and change tomorrow's political landscape," says MNet's Co-Executive Director Jane Tallim.
In the first lesson, students examine the terms "politics" and "political action". They compare the traits needed to be a politician and those used in media to characterize women to allow for a better understanding of how these depictions may raise barriers to girls being politically active. Students also discuss female political role models and consider reasons why girls and women might become politically active because, not in spite of, being female.
In the second lesson students consider how media portrays women in politics. Students explore capsule biographies of female political leaders, from ancient times to current events – crafted from snippets of media coverage such as newspapers, magazines, TV news and encyclopaedias – to understand bias in how female politicians are represented. Through class discussion and brainstorming activities, students are encouraged to consider ways that media coverage of women in politics could be made more balanced.
Teachers can access the lessons which are linked to provincial and territorial curricular outcomes, from the Experiences Web site at www.equalvoice.ca/experiences/kits.htm and the MNet Web site at
www.media-awareness.ca/english/resources/educational/lessons/elementary/gender_portrayal/girl_mirror.cfm and www.media-awareness.ca/english/resources/educational/lessons/secondary/gender_portrayal/suffragettes_iron_ladies.cfm.
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About Equal Voice
Equal Voice is a group of women and men nationwide, who have formed a multi-partisan, non-profit organization with a mission to promote the election of more women to all levels of political office. More information on Equal Voice and Experiences can be found at www.equalvoice.ca.
About Media Awareness Network (MNet)
Media Awareness Network is a Canadian not-for-profit centre of expertise in media literacy. Its vision is to ensure children and youth possess the necessary critical thinking skills and tools to understand and actively engage with media. MNet's programs are funded by its public and private sector sponsors, donors and partners, who include: CTVglobemedia • Canwest • TELUS • CTV • National Film Board of Canada • Government of Canada.
For more information, contact:
Ann Marie Paquet
Media Awareness Network
Tel: (613) 224-7721, Ext. 231
Blueprint Public Relations
613-237-7400, poste 23
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