La Sentinelle Institutional profile

La Sentinelle Institutional profile

Date: July 3, 2013
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Changing mind-sets a key ingredient for success

We are opposed to all forms of unlawful and unfair discrimination. All will be treated fairly and will not be discriminated against on any of the above grounds. Decisions about vacancies, recruitment, selection, promotion, transfer, training, termination or any other benefit will be made objectively and without unlawful and unfair discrimination. Excerpt from La Santinelle Equal Opportunities policy statement.

La Santinelle is one of Mauritius’ biggest print media enterprises. The group has daily and weekly papers, and periodic magazines. The group has its own printing press, which also caters for printing materials for other media stakeholders. The privately owned group publishes in French.

La Santinelle is one of Gender Links’ Centres of Excellence for gender in the media. The group signed a memorandum of understanding with GL in 2012. This signified its commitment to mainstream gender, not just in editorial content, but in institutional practice as well. This has been evident in the way that the group keenly received the idea of putting in place some policy framework to guide its operations in this regard. La Santinelle developed and adopted its gender policy with support from GL Mauritius. The group adopted the gender policy in 2012. Since then each departmental head has been tasked with monitoring the implementation of the policy.

Gender mainstreaming was a relatively new concept to La Santinelle when GL came on board. There were no deliberate efforts to make gender an issue and include the voices of women and men in all stories. Everything was left to chance. This evidently, showed in the output with women’s voices constituting just 19% of news sources during the 2010 Gender and Media Progress Study, (GMPS). The 2009 Glass ceiling Study also showed gender gaps in institutional composition.

However, with the development and adoption of the media house gender policy, there is heightened awareness around the gender gaps existing in content as well as institutional practice. Whilst in the past there were no deliberate efforts to put gender on the agenda, La Santinelle has signed an MOU with GL committing to mainstreaming gender holistically in the media house.

La Santinelle has demonstrated an awareness of regional and international commitments to gender equality. These include Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, (CEDAW), the SADC Declaration Gender and development, the Beijing Platform for Action (BPA) as well as the Mauritius constitution, which seeks to uphold the rights of all people. This knowledge is evident in La Santinelle’s Equal Opportunities Policy statement. The statement provides for the equality of all employees regardless of gender, race, political affiliation, marital status, sexual orientation and ethnic background amongst others. Likewise, gender is a key consideration during job selection interviews.

La Santinelle provides maternity and paternity leave in line with national law. Mauritius national legislation stipulates that employees get 5 days paternity leave and 84 days maternity leave. The media house realises that these are minimum requirements and there is flexibility when dealing with individual employees.

La Santinelle has made it possible for its newsroom personnel to attend Gender Links training workshops as well as other partner activities that seek to enhance gender equality in Mauritius. Karen Walter is a beneficiary of one such programme. In 2012, Karen attended a Gender Links Local Government workshop which opened her eyes to the gross gender inequalities in Mauritius. She says, ‘the workshop opened my eyes to the realities of gender inequalities in Mauritius. It has made me more aware of the society that I live in and the daily struggles of many Mauritian women. As a journalist, GL has prompted me to wear my gender spectacles all the time.’

La Santinelle General Manager, Edwin Ithier, shares the view that change begins with transformation of the way of thinking. He says the media house has worked to ensure that mind-sets shift within the media so that the media becomes an enabling working environment for both women and men. There is no gender disaggregation of beats for female journalists, for example, allowing all journalists to cover any topic.

Gender is a key consideration in editorial content. As part of this commitment to gender equality, L’Express, one of the group’s titles, has a gender page. This is part of efforts to increase gender specific stories and women’s voices in the media. Karen Walter, a journalist, has applauded this move, saying it gives visibility to gender issues. Walter says this, in addition to the GL French Opinion and Commentary Service being edited by Marie Annick Savrepine, a senior journalist at L’Express, continues to inspire female and male journalists alike.

Management at La Santinelle concurs that balancing women and men’s voices in news content remains a challenge for the media house. Journalists do not always give balanced stories. This is seen in the results of the 2012 self-monitoring exercise, where the proportion of women sources at L’Express dropped to 14%. Itier agrees that his media house has to tighten its monitoring systems to ensure that such gaps are addressed.




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