Perspectives | Gender Equality

Between gender and profession

By , - 11.06.2024

When it comes to the challenges of journalism, gender cannot be overlooked.

On May 3, 2024, World Press Freedom Day, the nongovernmental organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) published its annual index on the state of press freedom worldwide. This index measures countries’ performance based on five indicators: political, legal, economic, socio-cultural and security contexts. In the political context indicator, the 2024 index recorded a global decline of 7.8 points.

However, beyond the global situation, one aspect of the report that sparked significant discussion was Kosovo’s position, which fell from 56th place in 2023 to 75th place. “Media freedom is threatened by politicized regulation, lawsuits to silence criticism, insufficient access to information, and an increase in physical attacks,” stated the index page about Kosovo.

The report prompted extensive discussion, especially on social media. Opinions ranged from calling for increased efforts to improve the environment for journalists to attempting to discredit and delegitimize the findings as false. People who subscribed to the latter opinion adopted an antagonistic approach toward journalists in Kosovo, using language that has unfortunately almost become common: calling journalists “deceivers” and saying they have been “captured.”

However, amid this discussion, the opportunity was missed to engage in a deeper and more critical reflection on journalism in Kosovo. This type of discussion is necessary and beneficial for both journalists and society, pushing beyond the numbers and rankings in the index.

What isn’t talked about but should be?

Worldwide, producing good journalism is challenging for anyone who chooses to pursue this profession. However, it is even more challenging for some. Around the time the RSF index was published, three female journalists — Ardiana Thaçi-Mehmeti from Klan Kosova, Qendresa Krelani from Radio Television of Kosovo and a journalist from — faced threats, attacks and intimidation while working. Yet the discussion did not go much beyond whether the RSF is right or not.

Thaçi-Mehmeti, who hosts the Kiks Kosova show, reported about the AlbKings group on Telegram, where data and intimate images of girls and women were being distributed. After her reporting, Thaçi-Mehmeti’s phone number was shared in the group. She then began receiving messages and calls from dozens of men associated with the group. Media outlets reported that her number was deliberately shared in retaliation to her reporting. A few days later, the phone number of a journalist from, who has chosen to remain anonymous, was also shared.

Meanwhile, Qendresa Krelani, one of the few female sports journalists, became the target of online denigration campaigns. In some recently shared videos, former coach of Kosovo’s men’s football team Primož Gliha’s derogatory tone towards Krelani is evident.

The three journalists were attacked not only because they were journalists, but because they were women, highlighting the lack of attention to the intersection of journalism and gender.

Both journalists and women

Women in Kosovo, in any sector, work in a deeply patriarchal context. Women journalists speak in circumstances where what women have to say is often seen as a threat to the status quo, and the status quo is patriarchy.

Thus, it is impossible to have a discussion about the state of journalism without integrating a feminist approach. To understand this, we should analyze the situations of these three journalists as well as the circumstances faced by many other journalists — all of which are heavily influenced by gender.

While researching image-based sexual abuse, Thaçi-Mehmeti became the target of an attack similar to that experienced by the victims whose stories she was trying to shed light on. In cases of image-based sexual abuse, gender is a key factor, as the vast majority of victims are women. A journalist from was also targeted. 

Over the years, Krelani has been the target of humiliating and sexist language. Her gender is a critical factor in these dynamics, as she is one of the few female sports journalists in Kosovo, a field predominantly dominated by men. Has a male sports journalist ever received a comment like, “you are not at the level of a journalist, starting from your appearance,” as Krelani did from FC Llapi coach Tahir Batatina in 2021? The answer is clear. Female sports journalists are not merely unwelcome, they are actively rejected. When they express their professional critique, they face gender-based attacks, making their experiences radically different from their male colleagues. 

Women journalists, who are often at the forefront of media coverage on issues related to gender injustice, live in a patriarchal society. This should not be forgotten in any discussion related to challenges in journalism, although it often is.

This hostile environment for women journalists has wider social consequences. When women are discouraged from such a public-facing profession as journalism, their viewpoints are silenced and the quality of public debate is diluted. Likewise, the exclusion of women’s voices perpetuates gender inequality, discouraging other women from wanting to pursue this profession and participate in public life.

Let’s start from within

A healthier and more informed discussion about the intersection between journalism and gender should start internally, inside Kosovo’s newsrooms. This is necessary for two main reasons: the media have the power to influence social attitudes and media outlets themselves contribute to the current situation.

First, Kosovo’s newsrooms can ensure that journalists are free from any discrimination or oppression, gender-based or otherwise, in their workplaces. This is crucial because, apart from facing a society that is quick to judge them and attacks them based on their gender, women are not safe even in their workplaces.

According to research conducted by surveying 265 women — journalists, photojournalists, moderators, editors, editors-in-chief, directors, lecturers and video editors — employed in all types of media organizations, one in four women is a victim of sexual harassment at work. Women also face financial insecurity — about half of the women surveyed earn less than the average salary in Kosovo, which in 2021 was 484 euros. 21.5% believe they earn less than their male colleagues for the same job.

Secondly, newsrooms should implement comprehensive anti-harassment policies and protocols, provide gender sensitivity training and create supportive environments in newsrooms. Establishing such measures is essential for creating a safe and equal working environment for women journalists. Women journalists face unique challenges that require specially designed solutions — addressing issues of safety, ethical standards, digital rights and implementing proactive editorial policies. Newsrooms should include women in finding these solutions, and this will only happen if they become safe places where women can express their stories and experiences. Around the world, various guidelines exist on how to include a gender perspective in monitoring, documenting attacks and advocacy.

Newsrooms should also be more responsible when choosing the experts they invite to speak about politics, economics and security — topics that are generally considered the most important societal issues. A global study published in 2022 by researcher Luba Kassova shows that women’s expertise is largely overlooked in politics, where men’s voices are three to seven times more prominent, and in economics, where men’s voices are 31 times more prevalent.

Change has started in some newsrooms, especially with shows that focus on feminist issues in particular and human rights in general. While these initiatives are necessary due to the disproportionate exclusion of women from the media, gender justice must be integrated in all aspects of the industry. This includes every discussion that takes place — both on screen and behind the cameras.

After all, politics and security are inseparable from gender equality. We can no longer be satisfied with “we have invited women to participate, but they don’t come.” Women will participate in TV shows when they become safe. They will be included when they can speak and share their knowledge, analysis and attitudes without becoming targets of sexism inside and outside the television studio.

The road to uprooting patriarchy is neither easy nor quick — it requires determined commitment. We cannot be satisfied with “we have covered gender equality” if we do not address gender equality internally and intentionally. The effort for press freedom in Kosovo is inseparable from the effort for gender equality, and it must start within the media outlets.

“This op-ed is sponsored by ARTICLE19 as part of the Ethical Journalism Awards, #CheckitFirst. ARTICLE19 is an international think–do organization that propels the freedom of expression movement locally and globally to ensure all people realize the power of their voices.”

Feature Image: Atdhe Mulla / K2.0

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