Awards – GEM summit 2004

Date: April 5, 2010
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These awards are, to our knowledge, the first in Southern Africa focusing on gender sensitivity and balance in the media. The awards attracted 76 entries from eight Southern African countries in five categories: print (newspaper and magazine); opinion and commentary; photography; television and radio. There are a total of 13 finalists, four men and nine women, from six countries (Mauritius, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi – see table).

We were pleasantly surprised both by the interest that the awards generated as well the quality of the entries that are a resounding testimony to the progress that is being made in Southern Africa towards presenting gender issues in ways that spark debate and make for more professional, robust journalism.

The entries also reflect the tremendous awareness raising and training that has taken place in Southern Africa following the Gender and Media Baseline Study (GMBS) conducted by Gender Links and the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) two years ago. The result of higher standards of professionalism combined with greater gender awareness is stories that do not have to lean on editorialising in order to be told. When every voice counts, the voices speak for themselves.



Marie Geraldine Quirin, (MAURITIUS)These “mistersÀ that toddlers call “missÀ: This story, about two men in Mauritius who run a day care centre, stood out for its freshness, simplicity and little touches of irony: like the kids who call the “mistersÀ miss. It challenges the stereotype that only women can be care givers without overtly saying so. The story is told through the eyes of the children, their parents, co-workers, the two men, and their partners. Natural, full of colour and quotes, down to the little detail like fixing the radio, this “new manÀ story makes you wonder what is taking all the others so long to get there.

Sarah Taylor, An explosive cocktail (NAMIBIA) Polygamy is alive and well in Swaziland and it brings new concerns in the era of HIV/AIDS. Yet this story shies away from passing judgment or proffering simple solutions. Women and men, young and old, inside and outside such relationships, speak for themselves in a piece that weaves facts, figures, regional and global perspectives between the tales of every day lives, hopes and fears. At no point is culture denounced. Yet the story leaves us with little doubt that culture is not cast in stone.

Edwin Naidu, Sex pest scandal hounds foreign minister (SOUTH AFRICA) This article, part of a series on an ambassador found guilty of multiple counts of sexual harassment and then acquitted through the same internal mechanisms in the South African foreign ministry is an outstanding example of investigative and professional reporting. The story is full of all that makes for scintillating reading: scandals, international relations, a woman foreign minister being called to account on a gender issue; one watchdog (the media) waking up another (the Commission on Gender Equality). Yet in all this, the writer stays focused on the central issue: the violation of women’s rights. Through his doggedness and persistence, this story has refused to go away. It has also opened up a critical debate on sexual harassment, one of the less talked about and complex forms of gender violence.

Charles Chisala, Female marketers must also be empowered (ZAMBIA) Who hasn’t heard about the informal sector: that much romanticised yet invisible world that is supposed to have an endless capacity to absorb the faceless masses denied an entry into the “realÀ economy? But who are the “informal sectorÀ and how do they survive? When this reporter sought to answer the question, he found that gender disparities find their way into this underworld as well, where women abound but men make the decisions. Full of colour and light moments interwoven with solemn regional commitments, the reporter allows the men and women of Ndola market to speak for themselves before drawing his conclusions.


Everjoice Win, Sisters You Let us Down (ZIMBAWE) It’s International Women’s Day, but what is there to celebrate, asks a Zimbabwean gender activist who, in a bold piece that cuts to the chase, uses this opportunity to write to her fellow women in South Africa, especially Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosozana Dlamini-Zuma. Measured but firm, making it clear she “believes in other womenÀ but feels let down, the writer gives a feel for what it means to be a woman in a country where the monthly minimum wage is barely enough to buy a packet of sanitary towels. Bringing gender into the mainstream in a highly political and targeted way, this piece does what all good opinion and commentary should: It leaves the audience distinctly uncomfortable.

Yazeed Kamaldien, Sister not slave (SOUTH AFRICA) It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Sometimes a thousand words is worth ten thousand workshops. This article is one such example. Articulate, simple, direct, “from my heart to yoursÀ, this piece by a young man directed at readers of a youth magazine says it like it is: “love, not hate; peace not war; sister not slave.À Don’t tell men they are bad, the writer says: “Show them how to be better men!À Amen.


Lori Waselchuk, From the heart of darkness (SOUTH AFRICA) Africa. Disaster. War. All the ingredients are there in post- conflict Democratic Republic of Congo. Yet the lens of one photographer captures another side: women who are victims, but also survivors. Rare images coming out of the ravages of war; images that tell the story but are emotionally engaging; framed by an eye that is able to see beyond the disaster: these are just some of the comments prompted by the photos that accompanied the story “From the Heart of DarknessÀ in Fair Lady.

Shamiso Mapure, Another world is possible (ZIMBABWE) This is a simple yet telling photograph of a man and woman working together to pour water into a bucket in a rural setting. The photograph sparks off, as any thought- provoking work should, a host of questions in the viewers mind. Is it a set up, or is it just that we are so conditioned to thinking that women do all the household work that we don’t believe this picture is natural? What will happen after the water is poured? Will the woman have to carry the bucket alone? Sometimes it is in the questions, rather than in the answers, that we find our way to the future. This is one such instance.


Puleng Mokhoane, Women mineworkers in Welkom (SOUTH AFRICA) Who would imagine that less than a decade ago women in South Africa could not work underground as miners, thus excluding them from the very foundations of the economy? Watching this news piece one would imagine that women had been miners all their lives. They are at ease, and so are the men that they work with. The story alludes to the double burden of work that women bear in the mines and at home, but also points to changing attitudes among men. Avoiding the trap of being patronising (as often happens in these “wonderful womenÀ stories) this is an excellent example of agenda-setting journalism.

Thozama Mbili and team, The eye of a virgin(SOUTH AFRICA) For once, a thorough investigation into a complex issue that has tended to be presented either in images or sensational headlines with little attempt at analysis. Set in the stunning rural landscape of Kwa Zulu Natal, this documentary takes us through the origins of virginity testing; the issues that surround it in the era of HIV/AIDS; the clash between traditional norms and values, survival and a modern rights-based Constitution. Compiled by students at the Durban Institute of Technology, this highly professional piece of work gives rise to much optimism for the future of journalism in our region.

Sandy Mc Cowen, Court Bungling (SOUTH AFRICA) The Sixteen Days of Activism Against Gender Violence could become just another time for making pious promises. This reporter refuses to let it be so. She brings to life the phrase “court bunglingÀ through the story of the Mohale family whose daughter’s convicted murderer is at large. This is public broadcasting at its best: taking up the concerns of the public and holding officials accountable during what could so easily be a public relations event.

Anna Musonda Phiri, Sara and the GEM Crew (ZAMBIA) “Stop interrupting me!À the presenter of the show tells her co-host. Girls talk? Yes it is. These girls are talking about what is keeping girls out of school and why they aren’t doing as well as boys. Their chatter is interspersed with the UNICEF comic series about Sara going to school. Not quite news, but truly innovative “edutainmentÀ, this piece sparks off a host of ideas for how to start talking to young people about gender issues; or better still, getting them to do the talking.


Hilary Mbobe, Debt and daughters (MALAWI) As the world commemorates the day of the African child on 16 June, drought and poverty have led to the revival of an old practice of fathers “sellingÀ off girls as young as ten to pay for their debts in Northern Malawi. The magic of sound in this radio piece takes you to the heart of the village where it would be easy to simply denounce what is going on. Instead, talking to father, daughter, other villagers, and human rights activists, the reporter paints a complex picture of an indefensible practice that nonetheless has its roots in desperate circumstances. Balanced and professional, the piece is a reminder that the struggle for women’s rights remains one of the most challenging human rights issues of our time.


Quirin, Marie Geraldine These “mistersÀ that toddlers call “missÀ Male head of a nursery school and only male teacher whom the children call “missÀ F Mauritius
Taylor, Sarah An explosive cocktail Polygamy in Swaziland; its relationship to HIV/AIDS F Namibia
Edwin Naidu Sex pest scandal hounds foreign minister Commission on Gender Equality threatens to subpoena minister of foreign affairs if she fails to answer questions on “sex pestÀ ambassador M South Africa
Charles Chisala Female marketers must also be empowered Gender disparities in the market place; impact of macroeconomic policies on poor women trying to make a living. M Zambia
Everjoice Win Sisters You Let us Down Open letter from a Zimbabwean woman to the women of South Africa, and esp Foreign Minister Dlamini Zuma on International Women’s Day F Zimbabwe
Yazeed Kamaldien Sister not slave A young man talks to other men about gender violence: “men don’t want to know how bad they are…. They want to know how they can be better men.À F South Africa
Lori Waselchuk From the heart of darkness Thanks to a peace deal brokered by South Africa, the war in DRC is over; but for many, especially women, life is still a living hell. F South Africa
Shamiso Mapure Another world is possible A woman and man work together to pour water into a bucket F Zimbabwe
Puleng Mokhoane Women mineworkers in Welkom Women defy the norm to show that men can work underground. F South Africa
Thozama Mbili and team The eye of a virgin Young women who don’t know that they have the right not to undergo virginity tests. Clashes between tradition and rights in the era of HIV/AIDS F South Africa
Sandy Mc Cowen Court Bungling During the Sixteen Days of Activism the SABC highlighted an astounding example of court bungling. A man found guilty of femicide was back on the streets, scaring the victim’s family. F South Africa
Musonda, Phiri Anna Sara and the GEM Crew Girls and education: presented by two girls; story told in the form of a cartoon. F Zambia
Hilary Mbobe Debts and daughters As the world commemorates the day of the African child, in northern Malawi drought and poverty have led to the revival of an old practice of “sellingÀ off girls as young as ten to pay off their debts M Malawi
6 Countries


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