50/50 Campaign needs resuscitation

50/50 Campaign needs resuscitation

Date: October 15, 2010
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Gender Links Deputy Director Kubi Rama says the 50/50 Campaign to get women elected to government and into decision-making positions needs to be resuscitated if the region is to meet its 2015 target.

The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Development states that countries must have 50% women in all decision-making positions in the public and private sectors by 2015.

It was noted during the fourth annual Gender and Media Summit in Johannesburg that none of the countries which recently held elections had yet met the 50% target.

Only South Africa came close with 44%, followed by Angola, Mozambique and Tanzania with 37.3%, 34.8% and 30.4% respectively.

Rama says there is a need to make a stronger push for the 50/50 parity, quota systems and legislation because at the rate things are going the region will not reach its targets by 2015.

“We need to get involved with parties at a very early stage of the elections,” she said, noting also the key role of journalists in promoting female candidates. “We need to start looking at how we comprehensively trend on different issues in the media. That is targeting both practicing journalists and those who are still at college because by the time some of the elections are held they will be in the field. We need to have a comprehensive approach that will look at trainers, journalists and trainee journalists and look at long-term engagement.”

Rama doesn’t believe that short-term training alone is working and argued that it has to be sustained over a longer period of time.

She said at the end of the day it is about a cohesive approach to media training and one that is multi-targeted.

Gender Links has worked with the Polytechnic of Namibia in the past two elections and the student journalists have been able to bring to the fore voices that have always been missed by mainstream media.

Polytechnic head of journalism Emily Brown said the school’s partnership with Gender Links started in 2001 and has assisted her students to understand the importance of having many voices in their stories.

“The coverage of elections by mainstream media has always remained urban focused, so when we did the project with Gender Links we sent our students into the rural communities. Readers need to hear from the other parts of the country, and we know that it is expensive for them to cover the entire country,” she said.

Brown said their stories have been able to capture the mood of the voters and at times revealed disparities between what voters want and what MPs push as their priority goals.

She further states that students have had practical experience of what visuals can do to improve a story.

“No story can go into the paper without being accompanied by an image,” she said.

Rwanda remains the only African country to have met gender parity, with 56% women in parliament, whilst Lesotho has 58% women in local government.



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