Towards Equality is an international collaborative journalism program highlighting the challenges and solutions to reach gender equality. 

Created by Sparknews in 2020, it stems from a conviction that the news should reflect more faithfully the world we live in. That same year, around 25% of people who appeared in the press, on the radio and on TV were women. That’s far off considering that women account for around half the world’s population.

From the very beginning, we knew that we wanted to focus on two things: encouraging news outlets to pay attention to gender and include more girls’ and women’s voices in their stories and programs, and providing support to journalists themselves, no matter their specialty, so they can make their reporting fuller and richer with new perspectives.

Our work began with a series of webinars (back when it was all the rage) for journalists, reflecting on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on women, the lack of gender balance in the news and in newsrooms, and the importance of having women in leadership roles. Around the same time, we started preparing our very first Towards Equality media alliance.

We decided to time it just a few days before the Generation Equality Forum, an international event convened by UN Women and co-chaired by the French and Mexican governments of the time. Thus, on June 18, 2021, 15 news outlets from across the globe cross-published on their websites a total of 198 articles around gender (in)equality. It was a chance for more than 70 million people to discover stories from around the world. Stories they would have never had a chance to read if it weren’t for this collective effort and the commitment of our Towards Equality media partners.

Seeing the success of that first run, it was clear that more collaborations needed to follow. This experience also allowed us to get feedback and better understand what we, at Sparknews, can bring to the table to help ensure more inclusive and representative news coverage of issues where gender-based power dynamics are at play (so pretty much all issues).

Towards Equality has thus grown into a fuller, more rounded program as we have further developed the ways we support a gender-sensitive approach to journalism.

In November 2022, we sent out the very first issue of “In the Balance,” a newsletter meant for journalists, tackling each month a different theme through a gender lens. A month later, we created a resource site to congregate the content we produce and the articles, data, and reports we share with our readers. This knowledge platform was a long-time idea our team had hoped for, so it brings us great joy to have it up and keep it up-to-date, ready for any curious journalist to dig into.

Around the same time, we also informally started the Gender Journalism Network. It began taking shape in the spring of 2023, and has been (and will continue) evolving to keep up with the needs of the gender journalists we work with.

As for our news media alliance and collaborative publication, it lives on. Since 2023, it has become a yearly International Women’s Day “celebration” and a reminder of how important it still is to keep striving together towards gender equality.

Sparknews’ work on Towards Equality is made possible thanks to funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.