Directing women to the women’s directory

Directing women to the women’s directory

Date: October 15, 2010
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While Mauritius has succeeded in setting up a directory of women sources other countries in the region are experiencing difficulties which may stop them from meeting their deadlines.

Perpetual Sichikwenkwe, GEMSA focus person in Zambia, noted that many women in senior positions were not willing to submit their details for the database.

“For Zambia, people who have been willing are grassroots women, “she said. “For example teachers, women farmers and others, but for women politicians, company directors among others, they have been sceptical as some of them said they had given their information to other researchers who ended up loading their details on internet sites such as those for dating agencies.”

Yet Denisha Seedoyal, of GEMSA’s Media Watch Organisation for Mauritius, said her organisation had reached its target of 90 women sources for inclusion in the women’s directory.

“From our work in Mauritius we concluded that women were present but the media was not considering them for their views on issues they published or broadcasted,” she said. “The media directory will be launched in a book form and will be distributed to media houses, non governmental organisations among others. It will really empower women because journalists will use them as sources.”

The 2003 Gender and Media Baseline Study (GMBS) revealed that women comprised a mere 17% of news sources in the SADC region while the 2010 Gender and Media Progress Study found that in seven years the number had only increased to 19%. Women are still mostly absent from the SADC media.

The study revealed that Mozambique and Zambia had the lowest percentage of women as sources at 14% while Seychelles and Lesotho had the highest, at 31% and 32% respectively.

It is against this background that in 2009 GEMSA set out a two-year target for each SADC country to create a media directory of about 200 women experts who could be used by the media as sources. The directory would have 40 categories.

Such directories will also help ensure the media meets its commitments under the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, which include giving equal voice to women and men and challenging gender stereotypes.

However, Clementina Comate, Mozambique GEMSA focal person, said it was difficult to access women politicians and experts from her country for the database.

She said she only managed to register 50 women since 2009 from a target of 120.

“I have since stopped compiling the details because of the difficulties I have been facing in order to get responses from the women I thought could be sources,” she said.

While Tafadzwa Muropa, advocacy committee member for GEMSA Zimbabwe, agreed that while it was not easy to approach women leaders, researchers also needed to be educated on what is expected of them when they speak to these women.

“Getting in contact with the women leaders such as politicians at times is difficult as someone needs to have some connection in order to approach them,” she said. “In the Zimbabwean situation people view each other with suspicion and you need to explain to these women what you need to use the information for.”




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