Partnerships promote gender mainstreaming

Partnerships promote gender mainstreaming

Date: December 9, 2010
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by Emily M. Brown, Polytechnic of Namibia

When reflecting on the first few months of the existence of the Department of Media Technology, milestones seem to be coupled to our belief in pursuing partnerships.   As a relatively young institution and an even younger department, the realisation that we could learn from, and through, other more established organisations and institutions was what moved us towards an approach to journalism studies that would give students a dynamic learning environment.  

Initial partnerships were with capacity-building organisations such as The Netherlands Institute for Southern Africa (NIZA), the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) and academic institutions such as Rhodes University, the then Peninsula Technikon (now Cape Peninsula University of Technology) and Stellenbosch University. Another significant partnership established at this time À“ and linked significantly to what we hoped to achieve through our partnerships with academic institutions – was with Gender Links.  

While our partnerships with academic institutions afforded us the opportunity to learn about progressive approaches to journalism curriculum development, Gender Links kept us focused on how gender mainstreaming ensures quality and relevant content in terms of the training of journalists.   Regarding the latter we, as a team of media trainers, became aware of how so often a huge body of content related to gender is simply not addressed in most journalism curricula.   With hindsight, we stood to benefit from being new and often revealing what we did not know much about.

One of the main development partners of the Department Media Technology at the Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN) is UNESCO.   In 2007 we represented our institution in a Study aimed at establishing the quality of journalism education in Africa.   The criteria for this Study were: (i) Journalism curricula and institutional capacity; (ii) Professional, Public Service, External Activity and Recognition; and (iii) Development Plan, Strategy and Institutional Potential. Think for a moment about these criteria and you’ll realise that they are inter-related. What better way of aspiring to these goals than through relevant partnerships?

Recently, we hosted a group of five senior media academics from our partner institutions in Finland (one in Turku and one in Helsinki), Liberia and Tanzania.   Our meetings À“ outside of the community radio workshop that was being hosted for journalism students from the aforesaid partner institutions and our own À“ discussed pertinent content for future collaboration through proposal writing, workshops, exchange programmes and community radio. Yet, gender rarely seemed to be an area of focus.   Upon enquiry in terms of how gender is covered in their respective programmes, all the visitors alluded to alone-standing gender courses.   Fortunately, even though the community radio workshop programme did not overtly feature gender as a topic, one of the groups saw it fit to focus on gender in their programme content.  

I am of the opinion that until the concept of mainstreaming is addressed, having stand-alone courses (often offered by one academic who would acquire the reputation of being the ‘gender expert’), one would not see the desired approach to gender throughout journalism training.   As the hosts, we ensured that gender was on the agenda in all our deliberations and that, at the end of the day, no programme would be silent on it.

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