Espreso. Global

Women in the temporarily occupied territories watch Espreso - study

25 October, 2023 Wednesday

BBC Media Action has released a study "Women in Ukraine: How do they use media since the start of the full-scale invasion?"

This research briefing examines the media and communications habits of women across Ukraine, including the temporarily occupied territories, against the backdrop of Russia's full-scale invasion.

The BBC Media Action study looks at how women use media platforms, what media content they engage with, and how they respond to false information.

Online media is the most popular way for women in Ukraine to get information. Since the start of the full-scale invasion, getting important information quickly has become a priority for people affected by the war. The Internet, social media and messengers have become the most popular media platforms for both men and women in Ukraine, overtaking television as the main media resource. 

The war has also caused large-scale population displacement, meaning that reliance on traditional media such as television and radio has been decreasing. 

According to the study, the most common types of media that women turn to are the Internet (83% of respondents), social media (74%) and online messengers (74%).

Women aged over 55 and women living in rural areas were significantly more likely to say that they rely on traditional media platforms such as TV and radio. For example, 79% of women aged over 55 reported watching TV, compared to 62% of women aged 18-34. Also, 79% of women in rural areas said they watch TV, compared to 68% of women in urban areas.

Women living in the temporarily occupied territories have limited access to information from the rest of Ukraine, as Russian occupation authorities have cut off internet and mobile phone service. Thousands of base stations, fibre-optic lines and antennas of Ukrainian telecommunications providers have been destroyed. And in some regions of southern Ukraine, Russia has rerouted Internet traffic through its own providers, enabling Russia to monitor and censor such connections.

In the occupied territories, people can still access Ukrainian media if they have a satellite antenna, as well as the Ukrainian internet through virtual private networks (VPNs). 

In the qualitative research, women from these areas reported some problems with access to the internet and mobile communications. They listened to the radio or used VPNs to access the internet, but still had concerns about the safety of using their phones and posting pro-Ukrainian content on social media for fear of repression from Russia. 

The main TV channels that viewers in the temporarily occupied territories turned to were Ukrainian online channels: Espreso, Channel 5, and Pryamyy. 

60% of female viewers in the non-government controlled areas watched Russian TV channels, and 38% of them relied on Russian channels for news. 

Women living in the temporarily occupied territories said that in order to access news and information, they tried to read both Ukrainian and Russian news to compare them. These women also spoke about problems with access to truthful content - they found it difficult to fully trust news and information from media sources on both sides of the war. Women in the non-government-controlled areas were significantly more concerned about fake news than their counterparts in the rest of Ukraine, but less confident in their ability to identify it - the opposite is true for women in other regions of the country. In the temporarily occupied territories, 80% of women were concerned about the level of false and misleading information compared to 52% of women in the rest of Ukraine. However, women in the occupied territories were much less likely to say that they could distinguish between real and fake news (61% compared to 80% in the non-occupied territories). In addition, one in five women in the non-government-controlled areas answered "I don't know" when asked about their ability to distinguish between real and fake news.

This briefing is based on the findings of a comprehensive study by BBC Media Action conducted in Ukraine in late 2022 and early 2023. Most of the quantitative and qualitative fieldwork was conducted by the Ukrainian research agency InfoSapiens. This briefing was prepared as part of a project implemented by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) with financial support from Global Affairs Canada (GAC). The content of this briefing is the sole responsibility of BBC Media Action.  

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