In September, Guest Professor Shakuntala Rao visited the Department of Media Studies at Stockholm University’s Department of Media Studies. Her visit was organised and sponsored by the Leading Research Environment “Global Media Studies and the Politics of Mediated Communication” (Director: firstname.lastname@example.org) and included a higher seminar and a public lecture where Professor Rao presented her ongoing research about gender and Indian Journalism.
Shakuntala Rao is also professor at the Department of Communication Studies, State University of New York, Plattsburgh, USA. During the visit, Rao outlined some of the problems with violence and discrimination that Indian women have faced since colonialism, and that continue to plague women within Indian journalism, in spite of national sovereignty, constitutional rights and an increasing representation of women in the journalistic labour force. In addition to that, professor Rao also presented a theoretical framework, inspired by Amartya Sen’s Capabilities Approach, which aims to explain how the injustice within Indian journalism can be understood and challenged.
The framework encourages us to consider the rights of Indian women to participate in journalism and the public sphere, in relation to their capabilities, or the material conditions, to do so. As the situation for women in Indian journalism continues to deteriorate, with 36 female journalists murdered in the past fifteen years (please read more about this siutation here), it is clear that women are still prevented from fully enjoying their rights.
Professor Shakuntala Rao, suggests that one way of challenging this injustice is to integrate Amartya Sen’s Capabilities Approach into Media Studies, and create awareness among students and scholars about the importance of material conditions in a just society.