Groups call for affirmative action for women in film and TV

"Employment in Canadian media production needs to truly reflect the gender balance and diversity of contemporary Canada," said a communique issued after the St. John's Summit on Women in Media.
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The Canadian industry should take affirmative action, by way of government enforcement, to ensure a balanced representation of women in film and TV.

That call came last week from a consortium of women’s media groups urging an industry backed by government and taxpayer subsidies to push for gender equity.

“Employment in Canadian media production needs to truly reflect the gender balance and  diversity of contemporary Canada. Only when this is the case will we be able to move forward to a more equal society with a distinct and thriving media sector,” a communiqué issued at the end of the St. John’s Summit on Women in Media stated.

The summit, hosted by the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival, offered seven recommendations to increase the presence of women on Canadian screens.

These included government policy and regulations being used to “promote the equitable employment of women at all levels, behind the camera and onscreen, in the creation of Canadian media works,” and public investment in media industries being tied to a demonstration of gender balance.

Other recommendations included using incentives to “accelerate gender and racial parity behind the camera and on screen.”

And the womens’ groups also urged government-backed media funding agencies and producers to report annually “on gender and racial representation in government spending, including tax incentives.”

The communiqué pointed to Canadian and international studies indicating that women remain under-represented in the film and TV industry, “especially in positions of creative and financial authority.”

“This inequity has negative implications not only for the industries involved and the employment pool for those industries, but for society as a whole,” the womens’ groups stated.

The groups represented in the St. John’s summit communique included ACTRA, Women in Film & Television, Canadian Unions for Equality on Screen and the Female Eye Film Festival.

Earlier this month, Jill Golick, president of the Writers Guild of Canada, presented a resolution at the World Conference of Screenwriters which called on industry members to aim to ensure that 50% of the scripts across all genres at all budget levels are penned by women. The resolution was adopted unanimously by the International Affiliation of Writers Guilds and the Federation of Screenwriters in Europe.

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