A group of female journalists appeared before the head of the Public Defense Office, Cynthia Ottaviano, to protest the fact that Sunday’s live debate will not be featuring a single female moderator. They are requesting that host Argentina Debate include female moderators in the November 15 event and have given the NGO 36 hours to respond.
At present, three suited and booted journalists — Rodolfo Barilli, Luis Novaresio and Marcelo Bonelli — will take the stage in the University of Buenos Aires’ (UBA) Law School this Sunday November 15th to moderate the battle between Cambiemos candidate Mauricio Macri and Victory Front (FpV) candidate Daniel Scioli.
But a large number of professional women working for a range of different media companies aren’t thrilled.
They’ve pointed out that mediation, as a concept, supposedly exists to help promote “democratic discussion during the electoral process.”
“You can’t kick things off with this machista bias, it brings with it a sense of discrimination against female TV presence,” the journalists’ formal accusation reads.
The ladies in question are Mariana Carbajal from Página/12, Romina Manguel from Radio Vorterix, Nora Veiras, Mariana Moyano and Liliana Hendel from TV Pública, Mónica Gutiérrez from América Noticias, Rosario Lufrano from Radio Rivadavia, María Julia Oliván and Valeria Sampedro from Canal 13 and Marta Vasallo from Le Monde Diplomatique.
Romina Manguel spoke to Perfil.com to back these sentiments up. “For some reason, politics is a space reserved exclusively for men, it is as if putting on a tie and appearing on a TV show makes you more legitimate,” she stated, “we female journalists all have the same capacity and education as our male counterparts to moderate a debate.”
The journalists cited Article 3 of the Law of Audiovisual Communication to back up their claim. The law in question is set up to, “Promote the protection and safeguarding of equality between men and women… eliminating any form of discrimination based on a person’s gender or sexual orientation.”
Several notable figures have also signed their signatures in support of this recent complaint, among them the president of the Center of Legal and Social Studies (CELS), Horacio Verbitsky, and the head of the Latin American Team for Justice and Gender (ELA), lawyer Natalia Gherardi.
Manguel pointed her finger at TV channels and not the debate organization, however. “It is the responsibility of the TV channels that opted for male colleagues to represent them, Argentina Debate is just stuck in the middle of the situation.”
“It is easier to place the blame on someone in charge of a non-governmental organization than on machismo itself, which reigns in the media world.”
“It is more of a testimonial complaint” she said, not confident that it would actually make any difference for the time being. “It is a way of saying that we are unhappy, it is a violation of the law, it is a way of going back to showing disconformity with gender inequality,” she concluded.