Zimbabwe: Media must be gender responsive

Zimbabwe: Media must be gender responsive

Date: June 26, 2015
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Harare, 26 June: Journalists in Zimbabwe have been working in conjunction with Gender Links (GL) to improve gender mainstreaming through the Centres of Excellence (COEs). These COEs have provided training and guidelines for Zimbabwean newsrooms and individual journalists to develop and strengthen awareness of the gender dimension within media houses.

GL has thus been working with within 100 newsrooms in SADC countries to try and bridge the gender gaps that exist at structural and content level. Since the inception of this concept in 2011, strides have been made to ensure that sources used by the COEs have at least 30 percent women sources. SADC media practitioners in the programme have put in place measures to ensure that all news sources receive equal and fair representation in news regardless of their sex.

The SADC Gender Protocol Barometer 2015 Zimbabwe was launched during the related Zimbabwe Gender Summit which ran 22-23 June in Harare. The barometer serves to gauge how far the country has come in achieving goals set by the SADC region in gender mainstreaming and ensuring that women receive equal and fair treatment in all sectors of society.

According to the barometer, it is important for media entities to adopt gender-responsive editorial and employment policies in order to change ‘gender biases, gender stereotypes and sexism that permeate media content and newsrooms.’

Journalists from Zimbabwean media houses showcased how media houses have become more gender sensitive with the inclusion of more female voices as news sources and the hiring of or promotion of more women to work as decision makers not only in the newsrooms editorial section but also in management.
Although efforts are being made to meet the SADC Gender Development Index, the country is still lagging behind, with Zimbabwe’s index remaining stagnant from last year’s 51 percent. Efforts include work by journalists like Loverage Nhamoyebonde, freelance who exposed violations of women and girl’s rights within the Apostolic sect in the wake of much profiled violent clashes between Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and members of the Johane Masowe yeChishanu in 2014. The clash was attributed to confrontation that followed allegations of women and children being abused by members of the sect under the guise of church doctrines. Although majority focus by media tended to ignore the initial problem of the needs of the women and children of the sect, Nhamoyebonde ensured that story also profiled.

Radio Dialogue, a community radio station in Bulawayo has contributed to the media COE mandate through change in its programming which now includes radio shows which are specifically profiling gender and women’s rights. Their administrative structures have also undergone changes to promote equality of access and opportunity within the media house. According to Nkomo, in the last year the station has increased the number of women in management.

“We have a female Director, a female Finance Manager, a female Human Resources Manager and also a female Programs Coordinator. We are trying to give women an equal chance in the field. We are not putting women there for the sake of it but because they are professionals who have been trained by Radio Dialogue since some of them were in lower positions but now have been promoted into more influential decision making roles,” Nkomo said.

Furthermore the radio station has observed that in the past, men were usually the dominating voices and women generally did not have much of input in policy issues. The radio station has thus put in place strategies over the last few years that have increased the number of female Board members to four out of seven.

It is however important to note that media institutions still have a long way to go if they are to reach a peak level of gender equity and representation. Recommendations have been put in place informed by the findings of the barometer that the country needs a stronger gender and media lobby to serve as an external monitoring mechanism. This, it is hoped, would result in the development of a media that is accountable to the public’s interests in all of its diversity.

This article is part of the Gender Links News Service special coverage of the SADC Gender Protocol Summits underway across the region, offering fresh views on everyday news.



One thought on “Zimbabwe: Media must be gender responsive”

Very useful article towards promoting unerstanding of gender equality issues.

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