Right Writes July 2002 – Letter from the Chair

Date: January 1, 1970
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Letter from the Chair: In their own words

By Thenjiwe Mtintso,Chairperson, Gender Links

It is rare in any project that you feel there is no need for a final report because the participants have said it all. This journal, a summary of the experiences and insights that emerged from six regional and two provincial workshops to train Southern African communicators on covering gender violence is one such rare example.

One of the joys of working with communicators is that they are never short of words. In the fifty odd pages that follow, their words will carry you from South Africa to Zambia to Malawi to Zimbabwe to Namibia to Mozambique to Mauritius. They will fill you with pain, and they will fill you with hope. They will stun you, and they will make you think. They will make you angry, and they will make you proud.

A decade ago, the very mention of gender training for the media would have been met with looks of astonishment in our male dominated newsrooms. Today, it is an idea whose time has come. Indeed, it seems almost illogical that we should have relegated the media to the twelfth rather than the first area of concern of the Beijing Platform for Action!

For in the end, the struggle to achieve gender equality is a struggle to transform deeply ingrained mindsets that are cemented by such untouchables as culture, custom and religion. Gender violence epitomizes the difference in power relations between men and women in our society, as well as all those factors that have gone to legitimize this inequality. The media has, until very recently, been one of those factors. Here is evidence that, by transforming itself, the media can become one of the most powerful forces for transforming gender relations that we have access to.

Some of the most far- reaching revolutions are never trumpeted or even named. The media joining the fight against gender violence is one of those unheralded triumphs in our region.

We commend the Ford Foundation for supporting the first phase of this ground- breaking training, and the Open Society Initiative and Interfund for continuing with it. We are hopeful that support will be forthcoming from other quarters to make "Rights/Writes" a quarterly magazine that will provide space to debate, as well as record one of the most important, if unsung, revolutions of our time.

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