Planet Earth 2015: The role of the Media and responsible reporting

Not everyone has equal rights to education. Guess which gender is the victim of unequal access to education? The same that is over two times more likely to be sexually abused or burnt as a senior citizen, one third of whose members will experience some form of abuse or violence in their lifetime, the same one that has to fight every day just for equal rights.

Sex is coming

Sex is coming. I apologize for boring everyone with yet another serious news piece, this time about the empowerment of women and the right of girls to an equal education. By now I would have lost the attention of over 98 per cent of readers, who would have zapped onto an advertisement for a bikini-clad maiden, clicked on a pic of a fast car or scrolled down to the lower sections hoping to find a snap of a topless model.

I mean let's have a quick look through the dailies, shall we? Sky News is talking about a dog's poo glowing orange, in the printed press there are multiple stories about a new phenomenon, the "competitive eater", namely someone who consumes vast amounts of food within a few minutes, racing against a clock gobbling down a five-food-long sandwich before puking publicly in a bucket, while 700 million people are starving to death. One or two serious publications highlight issues such as child abuse (commendably) and true, there are stories about climate change, the water crisis in California but then the most read are the ones about a new (revolting-looking) pizza, some girl called Esther Dolezal and the hit counters don't lie.

That's why I started the first paragraph with the words "sex is coming". What a caddish, unorthodox way of getting the readers to stay on course and read about something serious: equal rights to education and responsible reporting and now that you've started you may as well finish.

While we congratulate ourselves

So as we pat ourselves on the back and congratulate ourselves on having overcome many of the world's main diseases (for the time being), on having very few children down coal mines, on getting the vote for the woman, even though many still say "I will ask my husband to see who we are voting for", let us ask ourselves whether everything is really so rosy.

How can it be when girls, in the year 2015, continue to have unequal access to education, the fundamental building blocks of the future career, the foundations which define to a great extent who a person is to become and where a person is to go? So let us congratulate ourselves on the statistic that in one third of countries access for girls to elementary education is unequal when compared with access for boys, let us congratulate ourselves on the fact that the statistic is worse (nearly half the countries) when we speak about lower secondary education.

In recent years, there have been attacks against schools for advocating girls' education. Where? Why in Afghanistan, of course. Probably Pakistan as well. Maybe Yemen? According to the UNO, these attacks have been perpetrated in at least seventy countries, seven zero. The violence was not the result of the girls being instructed, it was the result of fear of social change once the girls become educated women.

And what does that mean? The latest report drawn up by experts in the UNO and working with the organization, Statistics on Women, states clearly that the well-being and education of a country's female population is the best indicator of its prospects for peace and development. I repeat, the well-being and education of a country's female population is the best indicator of its prospects for peace and development.

In conclusion, we have nothing to congratulate ourselves on. Any progress we make is ephemeral because the lobbies have decided that the money has to be controlled by mega-corporations which are engaged in the area of banking, weaponry, pharmaceutical products catering for public health calamities, once they have taken hold of course (watch MERS-CoV), and claiming the world's energy resources as their own before selling them to us at inflated prices. They may as well start selling air.

And who is to blame for this? The guy whose first act of the day on leaving home is to walk to the newspaper kiosk, grab a tabloid, open it at page three and say "Cor! Look at those!" on seeing a half-clad student who bore her breasts to help pay for her studies, or the "newspaper" that carries such nonsense? Forgive me, dear reader, for speaking about serious issues.

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey


([email protected])


*Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey has worked as a correspondent, journalist, deputy editor, editor, chief editor, director, project manager, executive director, partner and owner of printed and online daily, weekly, monthly and yearly publications, TV stations and media groups printed, aired and distributed in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, Mozambique and São Tomé and Principe Isles; the Russian Foreign Ministry publication Dialog and the Cuban Foreign Ministry Official Publications. He has spent the last two decades in humanitarian projects, connecting communities, working to document and catalog disappearing languages, cultures, traditions, working to network with the LGBT communities helping to set up shelters for abused or frightened victims and as Media Partner with UN Women, working to foster the UN Women project to fight against gender violence and to strive for an end to sexism, racism and homophobia. He is also a Media Partner of Humane Society International, fighting for animal rights.


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Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey