More specific programmes for the protection of women journalists should be established, recommended press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) today following the findings of a new report.

The report, titled 'News Media: A Men's Preserve That is Dangerous For Women,' was released by RSF yesterday to mark International Women's Day today.

In the document the press freedom organisation highlights the problems facing women across the world who work as journalists, from difficulties in reaching higher levels in the newsroom to cases of segregation and violence.

Other recommendations outlined by RSF in the report are that cooperation between women's rights organisations and press freedom groups should be reinforced and that there should be greater support for bodies providing journalism training specifically for women.

The report contains a number of accounts by female journalists from around the world, including French war correspondent, Anne Nivat, who claimed that Afghanistan in particular continues to be a place where "women do not have the right to speak".

But, she later adds, her gender can at times be beneficial when working as an undercover reporter.

"It has been easier for me as a woman to do my work because women count for nothing in Iraq and Afghanistan and no one pays them any attention. You can see without being seen. Unlike our male colleagues, a woman journalist can pass relatively unnoticed. She can get through checkpoints. No one mistrusts her. But it is all to do with my method of working, total immersion in the local population."

While certain countries are flagged up by RSF as places where women journalists face the possibility of violence or imprisonment, such as Rwanda, Eritrea or Uganda, others including the Philippines and Cuba are highlighted as places where women journalists are making "significant progress".

Philippine writer and journalist Marites Dañguilan Vitug, who heads the board of online news magazine Newsbreak, is quoted in the report as claiming that as a woman she has a "certain facility for doing this job".

"People trust me more readily, I get information more easily than I think my male colleagues do. But it was hard starting out."

Other research released this week in the UK to mark the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day showed that nearly three quarters of national news journalists are men.

The research, which was commissioned by the Women in Journalism group and called "A Gendered Press?", surveyed the top 28 national newspapers by circulation size.

It also found that just 4 per cent of sports journalists are women while so-called 'soft topics' are also heavily covered by men, with 49 per cent of lifestyle reporters and 70 per cent of arts reporters being male.

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