Argentina: new law set to enhance public media gender equity

7TH JULY 2021

A recently approved law to improve parity in gender representation and perspectives in the media is expected to build upon existing diversity initiatives at public broadcaster Radio and Television Argentina (RTA).
Logo de Radio y Televisión Argentina S.E.. Credit: Leandro Aurieme, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

On 11 June, Argentina’s Chamber of Deputies approved a bill aimed at enhancing gender parity in the state’s radio and television broadcasting services. The law’s objective is to “promote gender parity from a sexual diversity perspective in order to eradicate sexist and patriarchal stereotypes”. The Chamber also gave approval to a labour quota for transgender people.

The law was first proposed in 2020 by Senator Norma Durango and extended only to public media. However, while the law is mandated in public media, it encourages private media to participate: private media that meet parity requirements will obtain a gender equality certificate that will provide them with preference in the allocation of institutional advertising, Europa Press reported. President of the Communications Commission, Pablo Carro, explained that the law is not “a quota project, nor parity” but instead focuses on gender equality and generating more opportunities.

“These regulatory advances are essential to end inequalities in the public and private media, advance the cultural transformation we need, and thus build a fairer Argentina for everyone,” the Ministry of Women, Gender and Diversity said in a tweet.

The law is much needed in Argentina. La Diaria reports that while 64% of people who study communication are women, only 30% of those working in the media are women. In positions of power, 78% of the media and 70% of communication unions are run by men. Meanwhile, only 24% of employees in press unions are women.

The law will complement existing initiatives undertaken by Argentine public broadcaster RTA. In September 2020, RTA launched a Gender and Diversity Directorate to prioritise women’s representation in the media as well as the equitable representation of LGBTQ+ people. The Directorate promotes actions that expand and highlight women’s participation across RTA and ensures equity in gender representation. The Directorate was also charged with promoting policies for the inclusion of other diversity markers such as culture and ethnicity and developing public media campaigns to identify and tackle sexual abuse and gender-based violence, Télam reported.

The Directorate is also in keeping with RTA President Rosario Lufrano’s commitment to prioritise the creation of more public media content that reflects Argentina’s diversity and pluralism, including women’s rights and climate change.

RTA also recently adopted Recommendations for the Responsible Treatment of Disability within public media. The protocol provides guidelines not only on reporting on disabilities but also recommends guidelines to develop inclusive and accessible communication.

“In the public media we are carrying out strong policies of inclusion and we are very busy to see how to transmit to society some issues that are very sensitive for everyone. This protocol that we present today aims precisely at that: to develop inclusive and accessible communication about disability, away from all kinds of prejudice or stigmatisation,” said Juan Francisco Meritello, Secretary of Media and Public Communication, in April.

While the new law and parity initiatives at RTA have received much praise, it is now time to ensure that the new measures are effectively enforced. As a public broadcaster, RTA has a responsibility to reflect the society it serves, not just in the views or opinions of its audiences but also their culture and demographics.