Malawi: Women take climate change head-on


Date: October 2, 2012
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Name of the article : Women leading in climate change adaptation efforts

Name of newspaper : The Nation

Name of journalist : Emmanuel Muwamba

Date : 23 August 2012

Country : Malawi

Theme : Climate change, agriculture, gender equality

Skills : Sources, portrayal, use of data

Genre : Feature

Gem classification : Gender aware

Description
This media highlight analyses a feature story published in the Malawi’s Nation newspaper about a group of women and men who have embarked on irrigation farming in the country’s Phalombe district. The grouping is responding to climate change which has brought about erratic rainfall patterns and dry spells in the district. This media highlight critiques the article from a gender perspective.

Headline
The headline is relevant and reflects the essence of the article. The headline brings out the gist of the article.

Sources
The writer interviews two female sources and three males. Although there are more male sources compared to females, the article is arguably gender aware considering the space accorded to female sources. Although males are interviewed as authorities, women in the article are portrayed to be on a leading role of the agency.

In addition to the above, the journalist would have interviewed a gender activist to comment on the challenges women and girls are facing in the country as a result of climate change. The activist could have also talked about the need to mainstream gender in all climate change efforts in the country.

Further, the article quotes from anonymous secondary source that “more than 1.63 million people in the country are reliant on relief food…” but it does attribute the source of the information. Merely presenting the statistics without attributing the source of the information leaves the reader with a question as to where the reporter sourced the data.

Language
The article uses gender sensitive language.

Visual Images
The picture shows women farmers in the garden hence relevant to the story. The picture also reinforces the story.

Story angle

The story is about some Malawian women farmers who are actively involved in the irrigation scheme. The article specifically highlights how women have embraced the initiative. The reporter needs to be commended for portraying women as victors and not helpless. The article demonstrates that women have the ability to finding solutions to societal challenges – in this case, ensuring that households have enough food despite dry spells and erratic rainfall caused by climate change.

However the story does not tell the reader when the irrigation scheme started, who is sponsoring the project(s) and how much women farmers have benefited from the project. Detailing this would answer questions a reader is likely to ask after reading the article. This would enlighten other potential farmers in the country on how they can replicate the project.

Further, the reporter does not ask the minister if the government has any plans to replicate the project in other districts. The reporter would have also asked the minister if the government is putting in place any mitigation and adaptation measures for women in as far as climate change and agricultural issues are concerned.

Lastly, article would have also articulated on what the members of the irrigation scheme do with their produce and how they share the produce among other things. This could also provide learning points for others willing and potential farmers to take up a similar project.

Nevertheless, the journalist should be commended for providing sex disaggregated data of farmers involved in irrigation farming in the district. This paints a vivid picture that “women [are] leading in climate change adaptation efforts” indeed.

Placement and positioning
The article is not given prominence as it is placed at the bottom of environment page and it is not very visible.

Training exercise

– Why should reporters always ensure that they give sex disaggregated data whenever they are reporting on human statistical issues?

– Apart from agriculture, write a feature story highlighting how climate is impacting on women’s socio-economic lives in the country?

Other training resources
SADC Gender Protocol 2012 Barometer: Gender, climate change and sustainable development chapter
Policy Brief: Gender, climate change and sustainable development – By Gender Links
Gender Climate Change Capacity Development Series-Africa: Module 2- Adaptation – A publication available in the Gender and Media Diversity Centre (GMDC) library
Southern Africa: Climate change is a gender issue – Gender Links Opinion and Commentary article

 


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