Said Mmanga – Tanzania

Said Mmanga – Tanzania

Date: June 30, 2015
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When someone ventures into a media house in Tanzania and asks to speak to the gender champion, the names that invariably pop up are of female employees. But at Lady Band newspaper, the story is totally different: a man is the gender champion. This is very powerful in not only removing the stereotype that gender issues are women’s issues, but also in sending a message that men are supportive of women’s empowerment, and have an important rome to play in achieving gender equality.

Meet Said Mmanga, the gender champion and news editor at Lady Band newspaper. Mmanga says he had been socialised to think that women just wanted to be given things without working hard. This gave him a negative attitude towards gender empowerment programmes.

“Initially, I used to oppose gender issues, as it appeared to me that there was a war between men and women. But the turning point in my life was when I attended a training organized by Gender Links. The delivery of the message was so powerful and so moving that it left me questioning my thinking,” said Mmanga as he recollected what he went through three years ago.  “I realized this was not a women’s issue, but a justice issue. The following week when I returned to work, my colleagues wondered about ‘the change in my tone and language about women’s empowerment. Since then, I decided to offer what little contribution I can to promote women rights.”

Over the past three years, Mmanga says he has mentored six women, some of whom are now senior writers in other newspapers. Currently he is mentoring two women to become news editors.

Mmanga is in-charge if the implementation of the Gender Policy and the link between the workers and the board, a position he is expected to use to influence decisions that the board takes. He attributes the changes in gender mainstreaming in the company, especially around sourcing of information from both women and men, to the Gender Policy.  “A lot has changed since we adopted and started using this Policy to inform what we do. You can easily see the difference in our practice before and after adoption of the policy.”

He says they are now questioning the sourcing of information, and looking for the best ways to bring out fair representation of women and men’s voices. But the biggest challenge they are having, he notes, is building the capacity of female journalists to realize certain targets before the end of 2014 or 2015.

“Training requires a lot of money, while mentoring takes a longer time. If we can get organizations to support us with regular leadership trainings, then we can meet our targets within the defined timelines.”


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