Putting gender on the Windhoek Declaration agenda

Date: July 6, 2011
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On 3 May 2011, the world celebrated World Press Freedom Day. For Africa, the 2011 celebration is special as it marks 20 years of the Windhoek Declaration. However, there can be no press freedom in Africa until women’s voices are equally heard in the media. The questions that arise are, has the Windhoek Declaration enhanced media ownership by women, are women’s voices represented in the media, what are the lessons learnt over the last 20 years, what can Africa do going forward?

The Gender and Media Diversity Centre (GMDC) at Gender Links (GL) is hosting a series of seminars on the gender dimensions of press freedom with its partners in seven SADC countries. These seminars, being hosted against the backdrop of 20 years of the Windhoek Declaration on Promoting Independent and Pluralistic Media will run until September.

Gender Links (GL) has undertaken extensive and groundbreaking research on gender in media content, practice and education. The various research pieces have revealed that women are grossly underrepresented in newsrooms and their voices are hardly heard in news content. Interestingly, gender is not mainstreamed in journalism and media curriculum. It should be noted that there can be no media freedom until the media mainstreams gender in editorial content and practice.

The Windhoek Declaration is silent on the differential impact of media freedom on women and men. The seminars will contribute to efforts to put gender on the Windhoek Declaration agenda. High powered panels will debate the motion and participants will have a chance to share their views.

The recommendations from this series will be collated and submitted to key stakeholders during the Africa Media and Information Summit to be held in Cape Town in September 2011 as part of the process of putting gender on the Windhoek Declaration agenda.

The GMDC is also extending this call for your comments on the GL Facebook Page. In the Discussions tab, we will post questions or call for comments on the mainstreaming of gender in media freedom.

Click here to read the Windhoek Declaration Concept Note.

Click on the document below to read an article by Colleen Lowe Morna to be forthcoming in a book by the Media Institute of Southern Africa to commemorate Windhoek Plus Twenty.


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