Pyramid or Pillars
Women in Cultural Policies

Policy Building Criteria for the Future

Based on Results of the Background Paper, "Women in Cultural Policies"

Prepared for  the UNESCO Intergovernmental Conference "The Power of Culture", April 1998

Five policy principles outlined below reflect both the "underlying values" and main results of our research presented in "Women in Cultural Policies". They have been derived from and confer with those appearing in many international treaties and political declarations. They should be used as guides or indicators for the evaluation of culture and media policies in reference to gender equality.

They include:

1. EQUALITY: Women must have access to decision-making positions in cultural policy, the arts and the media, receive equal pay for equal work, and have the same social conditions (which does not rule out specific measures for women such as child care). Special attention should be placed on the social and legal frameworks (including equity policies and insurance laws).

2. DIVERSITY: Women must be free to express themselves, including those with differing values and opinions. The differences among women must be acknowledged and supported, but emphasis should be given to furthering their presence and contribution to cultural life as a whole. Pluralism must be the overriding principle when educating the new generations. Textbooks and curricula should be occasionally revised by the state to eliminate chauvinism and discrimination of any kind and must also include positive "role models" (historical and contemporary) that different groups in society can associate with. In this regard, the grave imbalance among women and men in higher positions in universities and other important public institutions requires change and monitoring.

3. RECOGNITION: This point concerns both cognitive realisation and emotive respect. Women's rights as human rights must be recognised along with their past and present achievements. Society will only then be able to make full use of the wealth of talent, expression and experience contributed, but often not recognised sufficiently, by women over the ages. Governments must work together with media organisations and community groups to disseminate information about the achievements of women in the arts, culture and media. Projects such as the creation of national and international databases (inventories) of women artists or women working in the media as well as the work of the Media Monitoring centres around the world should be supported. Arts and culture policies must also introduce mechanisms to ensure that the funding and prize systems recognise the work of women and grant them the prestige associated with such awards. Special attention must be given to the composition of juries in order to enhance criteria and experience connected with the notion of "quality".

5. TRANSPARENCY: Political decision-making processes rely on the unbiased production, accessibility and dissemination of information (including research results). Quality media programming and freedom of expression are prerequisites to ensuring a true "creative diversity". Networks ideally function in a non hierarchical, non bureaucratic manner, thus allowing for an exchange of views and opinions free from censorship. It goes without saying that public and private support for women's networks is crucial for longer term sustainability.

6. PRODUCTIVITY: Economic as well as cultural development heavily depend on creativity and innovation. Without productivity, especially in such fields as media/new technologies, sustainable development will not be achieved. There have been efforts to improve the role and the status of women by reflecting on their economic importance in the marketplace as consumers or cheap labour. Such efforts need to be reconciled with societal needs, emphasising individual creativity/talents as opposed to pure market demands. Governments should explore other ways to promote equality by referring to examples of productivity in the arts, cultural education and the media. The results of women's creativity in these fields, and also their particular talents in such areas as liberal education, can highlight and thus enhance women's status and bring otherwise abstract political principles - such as gender equality - to life, by raising general public consciousness towards this goal. Productivity should not be perceived only in terms of the end results. It should be seen as a process from creation to consumption in which values are produced and in some cases transformed. Consideration of women in this process is crucial and can lead to improved gender balance in the arts, culture and media.

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