Tanzania: Media silencing womens voices and stories

Tanzania: Media silencing womens voices and stories

Date: August 22, 2018
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By Yusufu Ahmadi

Dar es Salaam, 23 August : The 2018 Gender and News Summit which started  in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on today  has shown that the media in the country still has a herculean task in promoting womens voices in and through the media.

Presenting the statistics on that first-ever UN Women coordinated Summit held at Hyatt Kilimanjaro Hotel, Chief Executive officer of Gender Links, Colleen Lowe Morna said that the research done on nineteen newsrooms in Tanzania early this year shows that men still dominate the media on very different aspects.

On news sources, Lowe Morna told the Summit that men still dominate 76 per cent while women are only 23 per cent something she said does not provide wide space for women to express their concerns.

Based on the research Lowe Morna added that community radios have excelled by having 26.77 per cent in female sources.

Also, Ms. Morna  noted that women in many media houses in the country are mostly covered in soft news like entertainment and household woks and it is hardly to find them in science and technology subject.

The Tanzania Minister of Constitution and Legal Affairs, Professor Palamagamba Kabudi who was the guest of honour on the Summit said that women are mostly covered in tabloids (sensational newspaper) and in a very negative way.

Kabudi added that media are key instruments in advocating gender equality because they are powerful channels in conveying messages with profound effect to the general public.

“Media are indispensable and crucial allies in gender equality,” said Kabudi  and added that Media should work with the government and other stakeholders to achieve gender equality in the country.

UN Women Executive Director, Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngucka criticized the media for failing to write stories which show the success of women and identifying them as heroes.

Mlambo Ngcuka stressed that there are many women who have done things which have brought about changes in the society but they are barely reported in the media.

Commenting on media power, UN Tanzania Resident coordinator, Alvaro Rodriguez said that the media has a pivotal role in changing all forms of gender stereotypes and discrimination.

He added that, gender inequality is a global phenomenon and the media has a key role in eliminating that situation.

During the panel discussion emerged different opinions whereby The Acting Chairperson of Tanzania Editors Forum(TEF), Mr. Deodatus Balile said that despite minimal performance of the media on gender issue but they have made certain progress today.

“When you look 25 years ago, you might find only one female source in the story but today at least many stories in the media include many female sources,” said Balile.

Balile stressed that in East Africa region, Tanzania is the best in covering gender stories .

The  Director of Gender development Department from the Ministry for health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Julius Mbilinyi  concurred with Mr. Balile that media in Tanzania has to some extent changed the gender narratives.

“The media has done well but not enough,” said Mbilinyi and added that they have to increase efforts in covering gender stories.

Speaking about solutions to more gender responsive reporting, A former employee Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation(TBC) Leah Mushi said that there is the need for  many newsrooms to have a big number of women in editorial boards.

Leah believes that situation might bring about changes in the way media write story on gender issues in the country and hence changes in the society.

The General Secretary of Tanzania Editor’s Forum(TEF), Mr. Nevil Meena said that a female journalists should be trusted and given opportunities to write story believing that they can make change in writing  gender responsive stories.

The three-day Summit is organized by UN Women in partnership with the United Nations and the support from Embassy of Finland in Tanzania, Sweden Sverige and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Participants’ opinion

Among  the participants, including Humphrey John praised UN Women and its partners on the initiative which has taken in collaboration using media to accelerate the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs).

Contributing on media and gender, Mariam Issa says that journalists are supposed to be often trained on gender issues so that they cover gender responsive stories.

Fatuma Mshamu a journalist working with Majira Newspaper says that the low percentage of female sources in many media is sometimes contributed by women themselves. Many women are afraid of speaking when you ask them for interview, they run away” she said. This speaks to the socialization that women have been through where many have bee

However, Ms. Fatuma said that the situation is greatly contributed by the widely-held belief in the society.

Mshamu many of them fear that if they speak they might be beaten by their husband for those who are marriage and other are just reluctant because their confidence was long undermined by the prevailing system in the society.



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