The Voice Institutional profile

The Voice Institutional profile

Date: July 1, 2013
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Making the minority visible

“This process has really helped me to rebuild my confidence as woman. I never imagined myself as a manger in a male dominated industry.”

The Voice Newspaper (The Francistowner Pty Ltd), established in 1992, is a company produces a tabloid newspaper as its primary objective. The newspaper seeks to inform, entertain and educate. Since its establishment, the newspaper has recognised that the status of women in Botswana remains low, even though there are considerable differences in the positions of individual women with regard to country, age, social class and levels of political involvement.

In Botswana, men, as a group, control the means of production and other resources. They have decision-making power within households and within many institutions. Because of entrenched gender discrimination, the majority of women, including female journalists, still do not have full access to education, training, health care, credit, a formal wage-economy and political decision-making.

It is against this background that the media house decided to partner with Gender Links in mainstreaming gender in the media. The Voice Newspaper has been a partner in most of Gender Links’ media research; the media house was involved in the Gender and Media Baseline Study in 2003, as well as the Gender and Media Progress Study research and the Glass Ceilings.

The voice newspaper became part of the Media COE for Gender mainstreaming on the 20th of April 2011. The media house has so far completed the first three stages of the centres of excellence process, and has drafted a gender policy waiting to be adopted.

The Voice was one of the first media houses in the region to launch its gender aware HIV and AIDS newsroom policy. Developed under the banner of the Media Action Plan (MAP) on HIV and AIDS, this pilot project aimed to work with 80% of newsrooms in the region to develop and implement HIV and AIDS policies. The Voice has taken a bold step to bring the subject of HIV and AIDS out for public discussion. As part of implementing its HIV and AIDS policy, The Voice continues to work closely with people living with HIV and AIDS.

Before the partnership with Gender Links was established, the newsroom was not well known for a gender friendly culture. Sexist jokes and stereotypes were common, and women’s issues were underreported in the publication. Male journalists were not interested in covering gender issues, and did not take gender issues seriously. Women journalists did not have as many good connections as male journalists, and it was difficult for women journalists to exercise investigative work as they were vulnerable to violations and abuses.

Gender equality was hardly considered newsworthy. Men’s voices dominated in all the hard news. The results received from the GMBS and the GMPS study’s conducted by Gender Links showed 17 % of women sources against an 83% male voice. This was a wakeup call to the media institution, and it has since been working towards increasing women’s participation in all areas of decision making, and increasing women’s voices in the media.

The institution has recorded a number of achievements from the time the COE process was introduced, one of which is having a gender balanced top management team consisting of 3 women and 3 men. The other notable achievement is the ability to change employees’ attitudes towards gender within the institution.

Employees have sighted the process to have had a huge impact in their lives. Sadie Kutseope, the Human Resource Manager at Voice newspaper, clearly stated that the whole process has entirely changed her perception on gender issues, and has helped rebuild her confidence as a woman. “In the past, gender issues were never considered in our recruitment process, but after my encounter with gender links in 2010, I realised how imperative gender mainstreaming was to our organisation. I was never confident with myself as a woman, and always looked down on myself; after Mme Kasale conducted that workshop with the rest of the staff, I felt that I was worth more than I imagined. I now feel empowered, and believe and can do and be anything. “

To build visibility, and also to increase the voices of women in the media, the Voice newspaper has gone further, to dedicate sections of the newspaper to issues that directly affect woman. Another column called “The Voice Woman” has been created to profile women politicians and other women making a difference in the country. (Follow the link to women profiles: This is a creative way to increase the visibility of women’s information, because it is durable and factual.

Though gender is not considered a beat yet, there have been some deliberate efforts within the institution to ensure that all stories are approached with a gender perspective. Both male and female Journalists are now being encouraged to cover non-traditional areas of reporting; this approach has enabled journalists have a clear understanding of other areas considered beats.

There has been a consciousness on the gender mainstreaming process at all levels in the organisation. Management has been in support of the process, and all staff (regardless of department) have in the recent past been encouraged to attend all Gender Links meetings.

However, it was detected from the verification process that attaining gender equality in the media institution’s associations is an uphill task. This does not ,however mean that it is not attainable. It can be achieved if the political will and commitment is present. It calls for concerted efforts on the part of men, women and society in general.

Some stark realities came out in the verification, particularly around the absence of well-defined policies and programmes on gender in the media organisation. In the mission and vision of the media house, in their programmes and activities, gender concerns are not reflected or taken into account. Therefore, gender is not yet part of the overall vision of the institution; if this is not redressed, the status quo will remain.

Conditions of work in terms of equal salaries and equal benefits for men and women, working and physical environment came out clearly, as well as Sexual harassment and paternity leave. There are no policies present to address such issues and in the absence of such policies it is impossible to address problems arising from such issues.

It was clear that in the absence of an overall gender policy and framework, there cannot be any serious editorial policy on the portrayal of women in the media and on coverage of gender issues. There is an urgent need for Gender Links to finalise the draft Gender Policy.

The other challenge identified was that the media house lacked the ability to monitor and evaluate the institution’s progress on gender mainstreaming. There has been no person in the institution dedicated to carry out the exercise. The monitoring and evaluation was done for a period of time; however, the person in charge was just carrying out the exercise out of free will, as this was not included in their job description. This, however was resolved by identifying a new an individual in the organization to carry out the monitoring and evaluation. This will be included in their job description.

Regardless of not having pertinent policies I place, the management structures have regarded gender mainstreaming as a priority and have committed to it. However attention should be paid to build in monitoring and evaluation of gender policies and programmes, as well as the allocation of resources through gender budgeting to address gender objectives more effectively.




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