Welcome to Issue 19 of the Diversity Exchange!

Welcome to Issue 19 of the Diversity Exchange!

Date: August 5, 2011
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In our newsletter last month, we highlighted the phone-hacking scandal that witnessed the closure of the News of the World newspaper. The closure of the 168 year old newspaper is an opportunity for citizens to question the issue of rights and responsibilities. The scandal is far from ending as Murdoch and his family still have to answer to a number of issues.

August is women’s month in South Africa. On 1 August 2011, South Africans were shocked with a column in one newspaper titled “Haffajee does it for white masters” written by Eric Miyeni. The column prompted debate on social media and within newspapers about media ethics, responsible journalism as well as the role of the editors. This is quite interesting in freedom of expression debates and again the question of rights and responsibilities cannot be ignored. In this regard, Thoko Mpumlwana, writes that she believes strongly that ladies and gentlemen of the media are very powerful and that anything they say or do impacts on society, especially young people. As a mother and a grandmother she wants her children to learn to tackle issues robustly but not demean other people. She pleads with Miyeni to use his intellect and gift to project that type of journalism. Read the opinion piece.

We continue to highlight the debates on freedom of expression, in particular media freedom and access to information. Experts have released the second draft of the Declaration on Access to Information. Gender Links is now a Coalition member of the Windhoek +20   campaign. It will therefore be canvassing the draft declaration with citizens in different countries through seminars, social media debates and ultimately it is dedicating its 10th issue of the Gender and Media Diversity Journal to the theme “Gender, media freedom and access to information.” A call   for contributions has been sent out and a number of citizens have expressed interest to write articles on the theme in question.

The draft declaration is up on the Gender and Media Diversity Centre website for comments. Read an interesting piece that has been written by Colleen Lowe Morna, the Chief Executive Officer of Gender Links titled Gender censorship: None but ourselves can free our minds!. Comment in the box below the article and make your voice count in the gender, media freedom and access to information debates.

The Declaration on Access to Information will be adopted at a session that will bring together two important conferences, the Pan African Conference on Access to Information  and the Highway Africa Conference that will be run under the banner African Media and the Global Sustainability Challenge   in Cape Town from 17-19 September 2011.

In a related issue, a Draft Model Law on Access to Information for AU Member States  has been put is out for public comment. The model law may be adopted in October 2011 and if you have not made comments on the document, this is a final call to do so. Comments can be sent to lola.shyllon@up.ac.za  before 15 August 2011.

Plans of launching the Media Centres of Excellence in Gender Mainstreaming are at an advanced stage. The first launch is going to be in Tanzania, Dar es Salaam at Mt Kilimanjaro Hotel. See our calendar of events for more details. The annual SADC Heads of State governments will be in Angola. Gender Links is training journalists from Angola and Mozambique on gender and economic reporting. They will produce stories that will be published online.

Zimbabwean author NoViolet Bulawayo recently won a major African literary award the Caine Prize for her short story titled Hitting Budapest is about six children including one who is pregnant with her grandfather’s baby. The narrator explains why the children are heading for Budapest: “There are guavas to steal in Budapest, and right now I’d die for guavas, or anything for that matter.” “There they encounter this lady from London who is more interested in taking their picture, which I guess happens when Westerners go to Africa, but she fails to realise that they are hungry,” Ms Bulawayo told the BBC’s Network Africa.

As the curtain comes down on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show that ran for 25 seasons, we celebrate her and three women who have made it in the broadcasting industry. We celebrate women in broadcasting and feature three prominent women from Lesotho, Malawi and Namibia who have made it in the industry. These are Ntsiuoa Sekete (NS), the Executive Producer for Lesotho Television and Radio Lesotho; Rosemary Makhambela (RM), Station Manager for Malawi Institute of Journalism (MIJ) FM; and Sarry Xoagus-Eises (SXE), former journalist at Namibia Broadcasting Corporation.

Coincidentally, the theme for SA’s women’s month is “Working together to enhance women’s opportunities to economic empowerment”. By featuring women in broadcasting, we encourage young women to take up broadcasting as a career.

The newsletter keeps partners and friends up to date on the latest news from the GMDC as well as exciting issues and debates on topics related to gender, media and diversity from the wider world. The GMDC’s work is both local and global and it hopes to highlight first-hand perspectives from the African continent and beyond.

The July bombings in Norway provide an opportunity to discuss diversity in political thought as well as in religion. Multiculturalism is a contentious issue and one that needs to be discussed. There have always been attempts to ethnically cleanse nations or create exclusive states for “chosen” nations, which runs contrary to the building of peaceful diverse nations, religions or races. This is why we see many suffering and being subjugated because of their nationality and beliefs. Unless these issues are discussed, we will continue to have high levels of intolerance.

The GMDC knowledge hub is offering new information which can be used by trainers and researchers for topics related to gender, media and diversity. Three items from each of our databases: newspaper clippings, case studies, research and publications are highlighted. Most of them are on fatherhood and masculinities. Our mirror on the media section provides an analysis of a story titled Haffajee does it for white masters published in the Sowetan. The story has led to the firing of Eric Miyeni.

Finally, the GMDC will soon be signing an MOU with Malawi Institute for Journalism (www.mij.mw), a leading training institution for professional journalism based in Blantyre, Malawi.

Many thanks to contributors who include Saeanna Chingamuka, Mona Hakimi, Hunadi Ralebipi, Thato Phakela, Sikhonzile Ndlovu and Vijay Prashad.


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