Women and the Media

National Beijing+10 Report of the Communication Network of Women's NGOs of the I.R.I



In the Iranian contemporary history, women have had significant presence in media

especially in women’s press and also in the translation and writing of books. In fact

the first activities of educated women after being teachers, doctors and nurses, have

been in the fields of writing.

Respecting female writers in the Iranian-Islamic culture on one hand and the flexibility

of cultural media affairs with the responsibilities and/or the social limitations

of women on the other hand has facilitated the access of women to the production

of written Medias.

Since the media has been one of the applications of policy makers in the contemporary

history of Iran, therefore women have had many difficulties in having their

individual voice in the media.

Spreading the culture of the west and destroying or ignoring the human rights of

women, under the name of women media and in the group media of the pre-revolution

decades, has created the darkest era in the abuse of women in the Iranian media


Also in the last decade, one of the brightest successes of the history has been the

strong presence of women in media, not only in film making industry but also in the


The main limitation of Iranian media regarding women issue is to prevent their

abuse in pornography and also prevent use of women in media trading propagandas.

Also the medias have been one of the most important applications in harmonizing

the implementation of policies based on sustainable development in the fields of

health, education and …

The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Article 40

No one is entitled to exercise his rights in a way injurious to others or detrimental

to public interests.

Article 50

The preservation of the environment, in which the present as well as the future generations

have a right to flourishing social existence, is regarded as a public duty in

the Islamic Republic. Economic and other activities that inevitably involve pollution

of the environment or cause irreparable damage to it are therefore forbidden.


Twenty years vision of the country:

Inspiring, active and effective in the Islamic world though institutionalizing religious

democracy, effective development, moral society, innovative and productive

minds and society, influencing Islamic and regional unity according to Islamic

Trainings and attitudes of Imam Khomeini.

Having productive and effective cooperation with the world based on dignity,

knowledge and expedient.

Charter of Women’s Rights and Responsibilities

13. Right to have the benefits from a sound living environment and responsibility

to safeguard it

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Current Situation and Achievements

Status of Women Involved in Media




The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcast is a national television and radio and governmental

media and has different television and radio stations. Broadcast has the

most audience compared to other types of media and has the largest human

resources and personnel.

According to the research conducted in central Tehran on Working Women’s Status

by research center of this organization in all periods (1997-1998, 1999-2000, 2000-

2001) total population of men and women working in this organization has been

13941 out of which 2035 were women and 119060 were men that consist accordingly

14.6 and 85.4 % of working power in this organization.

Out of the abovementioned numbers, 70 people have been women consultants and

managers and 1157 have been men managers that the ratio of female consultants

and managers to the total number of managers is 5.7 % and the ratio to the total statistical

population of working women ahs been ¾ % and the ratio of men managers

to the total rate of managers has been 94.2 % and compared to the total working

population of men this has been 9.71 %.

Also, number of female film directors acting as programming directors and have

effective role in the productions of this organization is 210 person (consisting 10.8

%) from total working women population.

According to another research conducted; comparing the three periods shows that

the number of working women has increased in each period compared to the previous

one (accordingly 170 and 80 person) but ratio of working women is not rapidly

growing and has a slow pace; so that in the second period there has been only 5

% growth and in the third period this has decreased to only 1 % increase. So, during

5 years, the rate of working women in these two fields of media has only 4 %

increase. In all three periods, most of the women have been active in Tehran and the

rest in central cities of other provinces. Comparing three periods shows that the

ratio of working women to the total population of working women has decreased,

although still the majority is with working women in Tehran. During these three

periods more women were involved in the programs of this organization in other

cities and provinces on the other hand men are more involved in media in other

provinces. According to the latest statistics, 49.5 % of men are in Tehran and 50.5

% in other cities working for this organization.

In general, in the second period, 60 % of women working in this organization had

less than 10 years of working experience. This shows that female working forces

are growing younger.

The job titles of women in broadcast organization can be divided into four major

groups: production, admin-finance, services, technical-engineering.

According to the collected information, in each period the number of women

involved in admin-finance has been more than other fields (accordingly 39.7 and 39

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%). In this field most of the women have been typists, secretary and accountant.

Production is of second importance regarding the rate of women involved.

Production Rate forWomen in Broadcast Organization

Women are mostly involved in radio. One of the indicators is the number of hours

of radio programs produced by women in each of this broadcast fields.

Most of the productions by women with 84.7 % have been in radio and only 15.3

% of the programs produced by women have been in television. So production rate

of women in radio is more than television.

Almost half of the TV programs produced by women (49 %) have been for Jam-e-

Jam station (International) and 51 % in other national stations. In other words, most

of production activities of women is organized for this TV station broadcasting for

foreign countries.

Focus of the programs produced by women is defined and organized. For example,

most of the programs produced by women in stations one and two during the years

2000 and 2001 has been regarding the importance of socio-cultural groups (186

hours), children and adolescents (158 hours), literature and art (123 hours), education

and knowledge (118 hours). In other words, women are producing programs in

different fields in these two stations, but no activity has been reported regarding

political and historical issues (Source: Women’s Research Periodical, volume 5).

In general, women’s presence in managerial and decision-making levels has been

an increasing process and the policy of the organization is employing enable managers

according to their qualifications.

The highest decision-making authority in broadcast organization is women’s

department. This department in all branches of this organization has established a

branch and has succeeded in creating consultative posts for women in all provinces

and cities.

Women in Media

After radio and television, women have been mostly involved in printed media and


Presence of Iranian women in journalism and in media arena had a significant

increase in the last 10 years and doubled. A job that was closed to women two

decades ago, now is experiencing women’s presence in all fields.

Education and Women in Media

At tertiary level of education, journalism is taught be four major tertiary education

centers: University of Allameh Tabatabayie, Azad Islamic University, Science and

Practical University, and Khabar (News) University. Naturally acceptance in communication

or journalism in these universities follows the normal process of tertiary

education. Alike other education fields, especially sociology, more than 50 % of

students in communication and journalism are girls and in the recent years in some

fields this has reached 70 %. So each year 150 educated students join work market

of journalism.

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Free journalism courses in “Center for development and research for media” in

2003 have had 84 students, equally 42 girls and 42 boys, and the acceptance rate

between girls and boys, has been 19 to 13.

This is while according to the statistics of this center the number of students in 1993

up to 1998 has been varying from 57 to 67 persons and the number of graduates

have been at least 19 persons in 1993 and maximum 30 persons in 1996. During

these years, 30 to 40 % of the students have been girls. It is worth mentioning that

the number of female graduates reaches 50 to 60 %.

In 1997 there was a sudden growth of interest in these fields so that in 1999 the

number of students reached 116 persons where the %age of acceptance between

girls and boys was equal. These statistics show the growth of publications during

these years.

Women’s Working Status in Media

Although, the presence of professional journalist women can be traced in the abovementioned

years in media arena, but unfortunately due to lack of registration of

their activities there is no statistics available. According to the statistics of the

Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, between 1997 up to 2000, out of 1200

journalist cards issued by this department 204 (20 %) belonged to women.

According to the information collected from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic

Guidance, out of 1970 people holding publication permits 5 % are women. Out of

the same number of managers 6.5 % were women. We should also consider that

holding printing permit or managerial posts of women are some times in name only.

One of the main supporters of women’s union issues is journalists union. This association

issues ID cards, insurance cards, pension and other facilities and supports a

huge group of male and female journalists. By referring to this center and observing

the files in 2003, number of workingwomen in printed media is 21 % of the total

population. Number of deputy to the editor by 70 persons, editors of special services

to women with 50 persons, and journalist women with 257 persons have a significant

growth compared to the previous years. In 2004 the number of female

members of this union reached 533 persons (22 %).

Although there are contradictions in the statistics presented here with the formal

statistics, the %s presented here show the significant growth of female journalist

activities from 10 % to 20- 22 % meaning that in less than 4-5 years the number of

women journalists has doubled.

Classification of Women’s Publications

The publications of this period are different but have some common characteristics.

Some of them receive financial support form governmental organizations. These

publications are published through universities and religious schools; women’s

departments and institutions in governmental structures.

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of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Some other groups of women’s publications are printed by women’s intellectual

groups; including elites, NGOs and political parties that is a big number and educated

levels are interested in these publications. These publications constantly face

financial problems and legal restrictions so their publication is not sustainable.

The first newspaper for women called “Reyhaneh” was printed in 1996 during the

presidency period of Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani. In 1997 after a period of suspense,

this newspaper continued its activity during Mr. Khatami’s presidency as a periodical.

The second women’s newspaper by the management of Ms. Fayezeh Refsanjani

was a success in this decade and started its activity in Til 1998 and in spring of 1999

was banned.

There are some other journals addressing family issues and mode and health. These

publications are supported by private sector and have ordinary target groups and the

%age of printing of these journals is more than others. These publications are more

sustainable compared to other women’s publications.

In 2003 the total number of printed media in the country has been 2730 whereas

only 23 of them were related to women’s issues out of which 11 are specialized publications

and the rest are general. Women’s issues contain only 0.84% of total issues

addressed in the media of the country. It is worth mentioning that women’s newsletters

printed by NGOs and technical periodical books and journals are not considered

in the formal statistics list of the country and its number reaches to 15. Also,

in the recent years, women’s issues has become a very important subject in media

and in many printed newspapers there are special columns allocated to women and

it is increasing.

Professional Status of Journalist Women

According to forma statistics of the country, employment rate of women is 14 %.

Consequently, a job containing 20 % of female work forces is a profession that has

been open to them. Presence of 20 % of female journalists in media society of Iran

is a considerable number, especially considering the fact that this number has doubled

during the last decade.

Iranian female journalists like their counterparts all over the world face similar

problems. Low wages compared to men, limited job opportunities, household pressure

and caring children, limits in entering managerial levels are some of these

problems (Women and journalism in Iran.Leily Farhadpour).

Women and Printing Books

Since 1997 till 2000 the number of women publisher reached to 469 which is almost

one seventh of the total number of publishers (3300). Gaining publishing permits

didn’t mean real management and many female publishers have given the responsibilities

to their husband or other partners but the required data is not available.

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Female publishers having significant impact of processing books are 30 persons out

of which 14 are inactive. Considering the fact that printing industry is a field of

information technology and needs macro investments, most of female publishers

are cooperating with men. There are also number of women that don’t have publishing

permit but due to inheritance or cooperation are managing printing factories.

Status of Women Involved in Preparation of Books

Providers of books including translators, authors and the kind of books and topics

is the issue that we will deal here. The ratio of printing books in 2002 is 4.7 times

more than 1992 representing the development of book printing. This development

is double regarding women so that printing books by women is 8.35 times more.

On the other hand, the highest number of books published regarding women in 1992

has been on philosophy and topics related to children. In 2002 the highest rate of

production regarding women is on the topics related to children and philosophy. In

both years religious books have been the highest number in 1992 and 2002. High

rate of philosophical books prepared and published by women doesn’t mean their

lack of interest in skills and knowledge of preparing serious books. The assumption

is that for printing religious books is financially supported by governmental universities

and religious schools whereas women don’t have easy access to them (Book

House Institution of Iran).

In every two years the number of female authors and translators has almost doubled

in Tehran and other cities; of course this ratio can’t be real because most of the

books are printed by publishers established in Tehran.

The pace of female authors growth has been almost 1.5 time more than translators

in general.

The ratio of books by female authors in 2002 has doubled.

There is an interest among women to be involved in book publishing.

Women in Websites

After development of global electronic networks at international level during the

recent years this network has developed in Iran so that in international information

networks, Farsi is the sixth language after English, Japanese, and German.

Metaphorical spheres are proper opportunity for those women that don’t have

access to real spaces of activity. Internet is also a suitable opportunity for media

centers and women’s research centers in governmental or civil society organizations

for information dissemination and soft copy of printed media.

In general, women’s internet media can be divided into two groups of sites and web

logs where in the field of sites, 22 web sites have been introduced. Of course this

number doesn’t include Farsi media containing columns for women and sample soft

copy journal of women.

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In web log arena, which is a proper tribune to express ideas there is a growing interest

among female web loggers but due to false names presented, there is no official

data about them.

Persian Block is one of the main service providers for Iranian web logs. 21 topic

groups are in Persian Block, 3936 web logs in general groups, 644 web logs in life

groups, 881 web logs in private groups have registered. In general 1 % of web logs

belong to personal issues that unknown number of them are women.

Mechanisms to Combat Stereotyped Portrayal of Women in the




Religious policies and moral values originating from Iranian customs and traditions

is seriously against stereotype portrayal of women in media; so that there are laws

to address these cases in media. In this regard, Press Laws of the Islamic Republic

of Iran in section one of additional Articles (2000) emphasizes on using individuals

in despising, anti religious scenes using women and advertising immoralities is illegal.

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Supreme Council of Dissemination of

Information was established in 1998 for policy-making regarding dissemination of

information and directs networks and information centers for coordinated activities

and preparing mid-term and long-term programs for institutional and practical

researches. The approach of these policies have been to support women and prevent

stereotype portrayal of women.

The content of general policies of computer information networks is to preserve

human dignity of individuals including women and children in media productions

and filtering harmful and immoral networks, especially those involved in pornography

and showing violence against women and children.

Image of Women in Radio and Television

There are different projects going on regarding development of research and assessment

plans for policy-making regarding television and radio production and rendering

equal and non-cliché image of women in broadcasts. Some of the activities are

as follows:

Project proposals of establishment of Coordination Committee of Research on

Women’s Issues and families as a mechanism to coordinate women’s and family

issues in the organization, taking into consideration the following items: necessity

of establishment, objectives, policies, structure, composition of the committee and

its duties. To decide on research strategies on women’s issues and family problems

and coordinate among research centers.

Establishment of policy-making council for programs and defining the principles

and policies of broadcast organizations focusing on women at private, family and

social arenas.

Preparation of proposals and implementation of projects to define policies and practical

criteria of women’s presence in cinema.

Provisions of women’s sport policies in broadcast organization.

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Creating a data bank of women’s socio-cultural status in provinces to be applied in


Supervising practices of female managers of this organization; the results of this

research show that female managers are successful in their field of activity.

In scientific-educational activities regarding policy-making the results gathered by

Women’s Department of Islamic Republic Broadcast Organization is as follows:

Follow up and approval of two education courses regarding women’s studies at the

first levels of university students for directors and program produces of broadcast


Holding workshops and cultural-educational meetings for program producers

regarding different issues related to women and family to correct and change the

attitudes and eliminate misunderstandings.

Holding training workshops on women’s studies for women in production units

(evaluator, director, producer and researcher).

Holding analytical training workshop for evaluators.auditors of Women’s

Department of Broadcast Organization.

Although, broadcast organization, as an official organization, has put its efforts to

respect dignity of women and combat stereotyped portrayal of women; there are

still some TV shows portraying women’s traditional and passive cliché or advocating

violence in action films against women.

Women’s Press

The first women’s press has accomplished its pilot phase in the winter of 2004 and

is now starting its formal activities. The objective of this press named IWNA is dissemination

of information to women in Iran and expressing their abilities and problems.

Establishment of this press has been effective in promoting women’s participation

and focusing on press activities of women to present multidimensional image

of women’s life.

This is while other press groups of Iran, including public information dissemination

have especial units focusing on women and giving news about different issues

regarding women such as Women’s Cultural news or economic news.

Government’s Actions

Implementation of Electronic Government project and allocating special budget for

women’s empowerment projects in utilizing information and communication technologies.

Promotion of women’s involvement in the Islamic Republic Broadcast

Organization (291 women out of 353 women working in press and information

technology and allocation of 8 % of key posts to women) TV, and Radio (especially

consultant posts for women’s department in provinces and cities) and other governmental

media departments.

Creating information centers for women by governmental organizations such as

socio-cultural council of women (information center and internet site), women’s

participation center (library, information center for women and internet site) and the

Ministry of Interior (women’s site).

Training workshops on information and communication technology management

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for women by different governmental organizations such as the Ministry of Interior,

Broadcast organization, media research center and women’s participation center

and including courses at pre-university level.

Establishing an ICT center in villages and using it to promote rural women’s jobs.

Celebrations by the government (sometimes with special emphasis on women)

including short film of Baran to support films regarding women’s issues and problems.

Completion of media cycle (internet) in different TV stations and starting different

sites regarding women and the media

Reinforcing produced programs by female producers or special programs for

women and family in the departments of this organization, for foreign audiences

and provinces during the last 5 years.

Implementation of training activities to promote workingwomen’s cultural level in

this organization.

Welfare facilities for women working in this organization including sports, facilities

to promote health by creating consultation and medical centers for women, nursery

schools and loans for women.

Identification of needs and production of programs to target women and families as

one of the main 5 targets of media.

Promotion of qualitative and quantitative presence of female experts in different


Promoting workingwomen’s interest in production with 42.84 % compared to men

which is 32.43.

Women’s NGO Activities

More than three hundred activities have been undertaken by women’s NGOs.

It seems that information and communication is very important for NGOs and

women of the country have been very active in this field.

Holding technical meetings regarding media activities for women and meeting by

the presence of media representatives of the country.

Conducting training activities especially film-taking to women, news-writing classes

and report writing and media training for women.

Activities of dissemination of information of women’s NGOs to families and; those

interested in media and through other tools in this field.

Supporting female researchers and authors and conducting support activities to promote

access of women’s NGO members to media resources.

Continuous communication with media and news groups to reflect on the activities.

Holding book exhibitions

Research and surveillance regarding women and media

Printing periodicals and monthly publications, bulletins, newsletters, brochures,

posters and other media tools to promote public awareness regarding women’s


Preparing articles.

Creating job opportunities for 20 members of association in media groups of


Establishing women’s library.

Producing training manuals (translation and preparation) regarding women’s issues

to raise awareness.

Production of training and advocacy shows regarding women’s issues.

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Production of training and advocacy films regarding women’s issues.

Designing software facilitating media communication in internet.

Special Field of Information and Communication Technology

Starting technical or information sites in global internet network by women’s association

at local and national level.

Production of software through programming groups and production of training


Equipping women’s associations to computer hardware to facilitate activities and

communication with internet.

Using internet, especially emails for communication with other NGOs and beneficiaries

in other cities of Iran and foreign NGOs all over the world.

Creating data bank using information technologies such as empowered women’s

data bank, local data bank, rural needs data bank, data bank of women’s status in the

country and NGOs data bank.

Equipping women’s NGOs to computer hardware to facilitate communication with

internet network.

Conducting training activities in the associations or other target groups for women’s


Participation in national/regional/international meetings regarding information society

(participation in regional global information society –participation in global

meeting on information in Geneva- participation in information society workshopinformation

society and local development).

Encouraging housewife women to use the new technology of IT through information

dissemination at local level.

Providing articles on women’s issues and information and communication technologies.

Providing reports, bulletins, and electronic newsletter for members or public access

for awareness raising regarding women’s issues.

Using information technologies for budgeting.

Creating local communication network focusing on women.

Equipping schools with computer and creating local network and access to internet.

Creating metaphoric information technology schools.

Women’s NGOs have been very active in media activities. These activities have

been in the field of capacity building and the activities shows the awareness of

women’s NGOs regarding the importance of media in women’s achievements.

Also, global meeting of information society in December 2003 in Geneva opened

new ways to the future architecture based of information-communication technology.

Women’s access to information-communication technologies and gender issues

and the role of communication in women’s achievement were the main issues discussed

in civil society and women’s groups in this meeting and was reflected in the

final document. This meeting was well received in our country by civil society and

our women tried to have important role in their NGOs in this meeting.

Still women’s NGOs have not used their full capacities in using information technologies

and metaphoric spaces to achieve their goals. These organizations should

improve their capacities in using communication facilities and consider them as a

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tool to reinforce their international relations, advocacy of women’s issues in Iran

and facilitating internal networking.

In using visual media, NGOs have a long way to go while TV and radio programs

production is the best tool for communication, training and advocacy for women in

local level and remote areas. Considering the NGO printed media activities; there is

a lot to be done by organization who have the mission of audio-visual training and


CNWN Activities

Changing Saba periodical to monthly publication

Design and creation of a website

Fourth National Development Plan

Fourth national development plan of the country:

Revising and amending press and advertising laws, unified press and media legal

system (chapter nine, section B, article 116)

Expansion of national media activities to combat foreign culture adoption, promotion

of a healthy public sphere, correct dissemination of information, achieving general

policies of fourth national development plan through providing opportunities

fro reporting the activities of organizations and access of the society to public, vocational,

advocacy trainings though the Islamic Republic Broadcast Network (Chapter

nine, section B, article 105)

Supporting legal and real entities who are active in the framework defined by

supreme cultural revolution council in developing metaphoric cultural, art and press

spheres in computers and internet (chapter nine, section T, article 104)

Challenges and Constraints

Political pressure of countries having information-communication technologies

over developing countries such as the Islamic Republic of Iran and creation of digital

gaps among these countries which causes to decreased access of women to digital

technology of ICT.

Problems of women’s access to information-communication technology in different

areas of the country and lack of usage in women’s empowerment in different areas.

Lack of support mechanisms for journalist women who enjoy less vocational

advantages compared to men.

Lack of support to technical press and women’s NGOs which are published with a

lot of subsidies and can’t compete other press in the market.

Presence of rules and regulations in media industry for women such as printing factories.

Lack of access of author women to support resources and governmental facilities.

Advocacy of cliché roles for women in the media which is against role of Muslim

women in Iran.

Advocacy of violence in films and computer games which affects families.

Limited access of empowered women to sensitive job opportunities in media and

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little presence at decision-making.

Lack of presence of women involved in media in formal delegations traveling and

preventing empowered women to enter in politically sensitive fields.

Recommendation to the Government

Reinforcing skills, knowledge and access of women to media technology and providing

facilities for empowerment in all related fields.

Promotion of gender sensitivity among formal personnel of media through women’s


Research and implementation of information, training and communication strategies

for balanced portrayal of women and girl’s role.

Supporting researches regarding women’s role in media and influence of media

over lifestyle.

Allocation of facilities to women’s technical publications to be independent.

Reinforcing usage of ICT centers by women in remote areas and integrating it with

daily life of women.

Encouraging production of training programs for women to promote knowledge

regarding mass media.

Legislation to combat shows presenting violence against women and children in


Recommendation to NGOs

Gaining skills in using information-communication and production of empowering

programs through electronic training.

Supervision of mass media with gender sensitivity to ensure that needs and

women’s issues are reflected taking into consideration the Islamic dignity of


Reinforcing international and regional communication through media and supporting

dialogue among women’s of south-south and south-north; reinforcing regional

coalitions regarding peace.

Reinforcing production or distribution of publications regarding women’s models,

including their experiences in establishing balance in houseworks as mothers,

experts, managers, businesswomen to create behavior models based on roles for

young women.

Encouraging media training and industry for local, traditional productions such as

stories, theaters, poems and songs with local languages and according to the culture

and using communication methods to disseminate information regarding social and

development issues.

Using information-communication technology and media in other missions and

plans of other organizations such as entering local communities, health training and

legal awareness and promotion of morality and social investment at local level.

Promoting production content in mass media regarding women and children’s issue

to achieve sustainable development; through production of audio-visual or printed



Increasing the sensitivity of media through reflecting the subjects related to women

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and also upgrading the rapid employment of women in media, daily increasing production

of programs specially for women in mass medias such as TV, radio and publications,

news agencies, written books, sites and web logs by women, shows a general

growth in the presence of women in media as both producers and users.

Legal ban on morality and religious pornography in Iran and preventing the abuse

of women and children in this field is one of the most positive values of the Iranian

media. But still the existence of wrong traditions in the culture of producing people,

is one of the main causes of presenting standard images.

The new steps of women in professional media fields, reliance of financial media

sources to private sectors, lack of financial support from the specialized and individual

publication of women, non-sustainability of publication and legal gaps are

the causes that prevent women in participating in the media. But the growth in the

employment of women in media has been more significant than their employment

in other jobs. The rate of employment among women is 14 %, whereas the employment

of journalist women is 20 %. The same thing exists in the fields of publication

women, writing women and also female producers of sites and web logs. The number

is significant in the field of film making and movie directors.

Cheapness of publication industry and other media related products in Iran gives the

women a chance to use more but on the whole, the rate of user women is very low

compared to the rate of users among men.

Since there is radio and TV coverage in all parts of the country and there is a TV or

a radio in each family, but still the usage of ICT is through telephone and this is the

reason that the women have less access to internet.

The project insisting on the connection and information technology throughout the

whole country and omitting the digital divide among the developed and under

developed countries is one of the main obstacles preventing women to have access

to information. This issue has also been insisted during the World Summit on the

Information Society (WSIS) and is necessary to be considered in the Beijing

Platform for Action.

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