Echo Institutional profile

Echo Institutional profile

Date: July 1, 2013
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2015…yes we will!!

“I must say we seem to be doing a great job. And come 2015, I think we will.”…Tsaone Basimane.

Echo newspaper is a private newspaper which started publishing in July 2005. The newspaper’s proprietors are Dikgang publishers. It is a weekly newspaper which comes out every Thursday. Its news gathering is confined to Gaborone and surrounding areas only. The media house argues that it is Botswana’s fastest growing newspaper brand, with a fresh new take on traditional beats such as sports, politics, economics as well as entertainment.

Echo and Gender Links signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in May 2011 to work together in promoting greater voice and access for women to the mainstream media. The media house is now one of the seven Centres of Excellence which Gender Links is working with in Botswana. Echo has so far completed the first four stages of the centres of excellence process, and has drafted a gender policy waiting to be adopted.

Like most of the media houses in Botswana, Echo has not been well known for a gender friendly culture. The newspaper coverage of gender issues has been event driven. Stories on gender based violence or women only came up during the 16 days of activism and other significant dates, such as the international women’s day. For a long time, gender has not been regarded as a beat in the institution, and was never present during editorial meetings.

It was not until the media house became a signatory to the MOU with gender links that they become aware of the regional and national commitments to gender equality. The in-house workshop facilitated by Gender Links helped change the attitudes and perceptions of management, and since then, they have taken gender mainstreaming very seriously.

The Institution begun by restructuring the top management (which was predominantly male), and brought in women as heads of departments. So far, the institution has a balanced management structure consisting of three women and three men who are heads of department. Echo is the only media COE which has achieved 50/50 representation in the four main institutional departments. I.e. Management, Editorial, Production (Lay-out and design), finance and Administration.

“Though our media house is yet to set targets for achieving gender balance at all levels by 2015, I must say we seem to be doing a great job. And come 2015, I think we will,” said Tsaone Basimanebotlhe.

The level of buy-in obtained during the early stages of the COE process has really helped a great deal in the gender mainstreaming process at Echo. The gender champion gets overwhelming support from management in carrying out gender specific activities. For example, during the in-house training organised by Gender links, management issued a circular instructing all departmental staff to attend the Gender Links mainstreaming workshops.

After Gender Links’ intervention, the institution has put in place deliberate efforts within the institution to ensure that the different effects of policies on women and men are explored in all topics running in the publication. And also both male and female Journalists are now being encouraged to cover the non-traditional areas of reporting; this approach has enabled journalists have a clear understanding of other areas considered beats. The institution has set up a target of at least one gender story coming up each week.

There are, however, a few challenges, which the media house is faced with, and management has been trying to address in the past years. The absence of a well-defined plan for maternity leave is one such challenge. It is not clear according to the employees, on the number of days one should get for maternity leave, as the practice does not conform to the national law. Also, the promotion criterion is not well defined, hence it is not clear how women can progress in terms of promotion in the newsroom.

The management at Echo have regarded gender mainstreaming as a priority and have committed to it. However attention should be paid to increasing the voices of women in the newspaper as it is still dominated by male voices.




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