Remarks by Ambassador Nancy J. Powell at a seminar on "Free and Fair? Women Voices and Their Representation in Media" at the Lincoln Room, American Center
Welcome and thank you all for being here tonight.
I am very happy to be back in India, and particularly excited to be in Kolkata after 17 years. This city is even more energetic and dynamic than I remember.
I am also pleased to have the chance to speak to you all tonight on an issue of critical importance: press freedom and particularly women’s representation in the media.
In just a few days – May 3 – we will observe World Press Freedom Day. On that day we pay tribute to those who promote and protect freedom of expression, and commemorate those who have lost their lives pursuing it. While innovations have made information easier to share – we have Facebook and Twitter, for example – journalists are still targeted for harassment and abuse in many places around the world. Some are killed. In some places, some voices, particularly women’s voices, are never heard at all. However, if my memory serves me right,
I have enjoyed a sufficient number of “addas” to know that the Bengalis – both women and men – have no problem sharing their opinions!
The United States prioritizes freedom of the press. Recently, President Obama said “When universal human rights are denied, when the independence of judiciaries or legislatures or the press is threatened, we will speak out.” Secretary Clinton has made several speeches on the topic. It is no secret that we strongly believe that it is our responsibility to stand up for those who speak out in perilous circumstances.
But it is also our duty to ensure that everyone has a voice – an equal voice. This year the American Center is proud to partner with South Asian Women in Media (SAWM) and members of civil society to host this panel discussion on women’s voices in the media. After all, women constitute half the population of the world – are our voices being heard?
We are here with a very powerful panel of esteemed guests to discuss the issue. I know it will be a great interaction – a stimulating adda – and I hope that the outcome will be something we can all take back into our respective newsrooms.