National Gender Policy must be strengthened now, Daily Mail

Date: January 1, 1970
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The implementation of the National Gender Policy can help Zambia tackle the legal, political, economic and social disparities between women and men.
The implementation of the National Gender Policy can help Zambia tackle the legal, political, economic and social disparities between women and men.

This article may be used to:
  • Examine the absence of women’s voices as sources in an article on gender policy.
  • Explore whose perspective the story is written from.

Trainer’s notes

Sources and perspectives

This story is told through the voice and perspective of only one source, a man, who speaks about women, and on behalf of women.

While the voice provides a gender perspective on the situation of women in Zambia, it is unbalanced without the voices and perspectives of women themselves and other men. Also in addition to the Men’s Network, the journalist should have accessed other civil society groups. The story provides only one viewpoint, and it is not clear if the perspective given is the personal view of the source, or whether he is putting across the views of his organisation. Good journalism calls for a diversity of views and opinions on issues. Journalists should avoid producing stories which access only one source, only men or only women. Analysis of an issue , process or event is provided through the use of a diversity of sources in an article.   Even though the article gives a positive and fairly contextual insight into the need for gender equality, it still sends the message that ‘only men can speak on behalf of women’ in the media, because of the use of the one male source.

Writing the story

The story has a gender angle and provides context and data, but it is written in an uninteresting way, and the story’s construction is weak.
The intro, for example, does not pull the reader into the story and it takes time before the reader knows what the story is about. The headline conveys the message that the story is about the National Gender Policy, while the first three paragraphs indicate that the story is about the inequalities between women and men in Zambia.
The story could have been far more interesting by focusing on the National Gender Policy and how it can or cannot create a gender balance. Through the voices and perspectives of women and men, civil society organisations, women and men in governance structures, in the private sector, etc, the reporter could have provided an in-depth analysis of the policy for readers.
The story also is weak because it fails to make links between the gender inequalities and new opportunities for women highlighted at the beginning of the story, and the National Gender Policy. For example, unanswered questions in the story include, among others: in the last two years, how has the gender policy contributed to a change in the status of women? How has it fallen short of bringing about change, and why?
A large chunk of the earlier information in the story, which is sourced to Chilando, is background information and provides the context in which the gender policy is situated. So the story construction also is flawed, because it is written with the background first and the issue reported on placed near the end of the story.
Training exercises

 Exercise one: Read the case study and discuss the following:

1.      Who speaks in the article?
2.      Who is being spoken about? In what way?
3.      Whose voice is missing?
4.      What perspective comes through in the article? Is it a gender perspective? Why or why not?
5.      Should only women speak in stories about gender issues? Explain answer.

Exercise two: In a group discuss the following:

1.      Does the intro pull you in and make you want to find out more?
2.      Does it take too long to get to the point of the story? What is the main focus of the article?
3.      What questions are not answered in the story?
4.      How would you re-write the intro to the story?
5.      How would you illustrate the story?


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