Jamillah Jaddoo – Mauritius

Jamillah Jaddoo – Mauritius

Date: June 30, 2015
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Jamillah Jaddoo, a female journalist at the Le Defi group, could not believe her ears when a prominent woman she had interviewed just a few days earlier made an about turn and denied ever saying the things that Jamillah had written in her weekly ‘Women’s Voice”. This, she says, broke her heart and left her wondering if her target audience understands the power that her stories have in inspiring other women.

This is just but one of the hazards that Jaddoo has faced as she continues to write stories about inspirational Mauritian women. There are instances when she has felt that some of her interviewees want to dictate to her how she should write. This has, however, not deterred her from continuing with this good cause, which she is passionate about.

Jaddoo says she enjoys meeting people and getting to hear their stories. This University of Mauritius English graduate says it has always been her passion to make a difference through writing. She describes journalism as her dream job. When asked how she copes with the pressures of the media industry, Jaddoo says she has learnt to work smart through managing her time well as well as seeking support from colleagues where needed. She also says that her media house makes things simpler by providing transport whenever she works late. This has given her flexibility and comfort to execute her duties.

Jamillah’s story is very inspirational as it captures a journey of a young woman seeking to make a difference in her community. Jaddoo has been working for Defi group for just two years since joining in 2010. She works for the groups’ weekly News on Sunday. Her column, ‘Women’s Voice’ captures the life stories of Mauritian women who are who are excelling or making a difference in different fields of work/life. These human stories look at successful women who have climbed the corporate ladder.

Jaddoo says her column is making a difference in that it also profiles women who have made it in male dominated fields. Some of these women have become role models. She recalls writing about Mauritius’s first post woman and female bus conductors. These stories serve to inspire other women to know that the sky is the limit and that they too can do anything they want in life. Jaddoo says the post woman story generated so much interest that she wrote it again in French. She says there are now about 7 post women in Mauritius.

This column has also become a platform for women to express themselves and tell their stories in their own words in some instances. By giving women the space to express themselves, Jaddoo is contributing to the SADC Gender Protocol goal of achieving gender equality by 2015, through ensuring that women find expression through the media.

But where does Jaddoo draw her inspiration? She says back in 2011, she attended a gender based violence training workshop conducted by Gender Links. This workshop was part of the Centres of Excellence for gender in the media capacity building workshops on reporting Southern Africa from a gender perspective. This encounter was indeed an eye-opener, as she recalls. Jaddoo says, as a group, they engaged with Gender Links Francophone Director Loga Virahsawmy on how to deal with key gender and media issues. This kindled her interest in gender and gave her ideas on how to improve her work as a journalist.

Since that time Jaddoo has made a conscious decision to include the views and voices of women in her writing. She says this is particularly important when it comes to gender based violence, as many Mauritian women have continued to suffer in silence. She says her column has become a platform for human stories, which bring to life the harsh realities that women face.

Through her training, Jaddoo has learnt to take an in-depth look at issues. For example with gender based violence, she has come to understand the importance of going beyond event reporting but to seek to understand the causes. She now looks for the story behind the story. This includes looking at the perpetrator’s history and socialisation as well as other aggravating factors.

Jaddoo says her page is making a difference by encouraging young girls and women to learn about other women who have succeeded against the odds. She says that gender dynamics have been changing in Mauritius in the last couple of years with more women venturing into traditionally perceived male fields. She says she wants all women to know that the sky is the limit. She says women in Mauritius can now take up any career that they want without prejudice. Jaddoo is challenging traditional notions of what women can and cannot do.

Jaddoo says one of her best stories include a profile of a blind woman who has been working at a local bank for 20 years. This woman, who works as a receptionist, lives a normal life despite the challenges. She is married, takes public transport to work and does chores in the house with utmost independence.

She has also done a story on a 20 year old woman who is partially blind. The woman works in a centre for blind people where she is a teacher. These two stories are testimony to the tenacity with which women in Mauritius have defied the odds and taken control of their lives. Jaddoo says the media needs to tell such stories in order to encourage other women in similar situations.

Going forward, Jaddoo wants to continue writing on a diversity of topics and exploring gender issues at different levels. She says she always phones the Gender Links Mauritius office for their opinion on a range of topics.



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