Uplift women, says Acting President – The Herald

Date: September 1, 2011
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Name of story: Uplift women, says Acting President

Name of journalist: Herald Reporter

Name of publication: The Herald

Date: 12 August 2011

Country: Zimbabwe

Theme: Gender equality, politics

Skills: Sources, language, story angle

Genre: News

GEM classification: Gender aware

Acting President of ZANU-PF, Joice Mujuru, has called for concerted efforts in uplifting women as they are key in contributing to economic growth and sustainable development in Zimbabwe. Mujuru said gender justice and gender balance was key in the development of any country. The lack of women represented in various higher-level institutions call for more concerted efforts in uplifting the cause of gender equality. Mujuru emphasised that sustainable development cannot be achieved without the pre-requisite of gender equality. This article is gender aware as it is written in gender sensitive language and challenges the stereotype that women cannot succeed in higher-level political positions. The article is commendable as it pushes forward the cause of gender equality.

“Uplift women, says Acting President” is a clear-cut headline that introduces the story well. It reflects the essence of the story and communicates a very clear message. It is a direct challenge to the readers to recognise the importance of women in decision-making positions.

The only source in this article is Joyce Mujuru. The journalist quotes her extensively throughout the piece. This means that the article predominantly focuses on women in higher political echelons. Though politically astute, this narrow focus may marginalise the experiences of women from other sectors that society. The voices of women across all social sectors are not heard, even though all women (and not just politicians) should be uplifted. Furthermore, there is no male source in this article, which limits the audience that the 50/50 message could reach. If a man was quoted as supporting the 50/50 campaign, it would lend further legitimacy to the cause of gender equality. Readers would realise that this is not just a women’s issue, but a burning cause for all Zimbabweans regardless of their sex. The attainment of the 50/50 gender parity cannot and will not be achieved unless there is consensus among both sexes, therefore the journalist should have had a balance of female and male sources.

The language used in the story is informative. It acknowledges that there is an unjust treatment of women politically. This is highlighted by the statement that “Politically women and men exercise power differently”. This suggests that women are still stereotypically viewed as “unfit” to occupy such influential decision-making positions. It reveals the gender gaps of the political environment in Zimbabwe. The purpose of this article is to call for women to be emancipated and economically empowered, which pushes the 50/50 agenda. This sensitivity to gender issues is evident in the language and the use of the words “we” and “our” suggests that this is not a cause for particular individuals in positions of power, but a cause for all Zimbabweans to take up. This article could have been written in more simple and accessible language so that all Zimbabweans regardless of their literacy level could thoroughly understand the issues discussed.

Visual images
The image that accompanies the article is of two women in influential political decision-making positions: Vice President of ZANU-PF Joice Mujuru and Senate President Edna Madzongwe. This is a positive image as it shows two women in a professional environment shaking hands at the 50/50 strategy meeting. It challenges the stereotype that women cannot uphold higher-level positions in government, which could be encouraging for other women and young girls who would like to become political figures in Zimbabwe. The caption of the image states: “Acting President Joice Mujuru shakes hands with Senate President Edna Madzongwe after officially opening the 50/50 strategy meeting in Harare yesterday.” This fairly depicts the essence of the photograph.

Story angle
The predominant views that this article puts forward is that of women in politics. It highlights that the participation of women in decision-making positions is key to sustainable development. However, the absence of men’s views on this issue is a disappointment. Since this is a cause for the entire nation, men should be equally involved in mapping out strategies to promote the inclusion of women in decision-making. The absence of a male perspective could imply that men may be threatened by, and not supportive of, this initiative. Due to the absence of men’s voices, the reader could interpret that men are either ignorant or in denial of the 50/50 goal or resistant to change. It would have challenged the stereotype that gender equality is a women’s issue if the voices and views of men had been included.

Mujuru’s speech at the 50/50 strategy meeting, which is reported in the article, highlights the struggle women in politics have experienced to be elected into leadership positions. Mujuru states that she “was elected Vice President because the Women’s League fought for a party constitution provision of one in every three positions to be occupied by women. Now we are going 50/50”. This provides a good example for other political parties to emulate. The speech demands the nation to embrace the current constitutional changes in order to ensure that the 50/50 parity is achieved. At the same time, the predominant political angle is a limitation of the article. The reporter could have looked beyond Mujuru’s speech in order to bring a diversity of views about the 50/50 campaign. In particular, the view of lay people or ordinary Zimbabweans would have vastly improved the story angle of this article.

Placement and positioning
The story is on page 2 in the local news column, which is a strategic position for an article. This particular placement is of major importance as the most topical issues prevailing in the country are placed on this page. It shows that the editor prioritised this piece and wanted it to be noticed by readers.

Training exercises

  • To what extent do you think ordinary Zimbabweans understand the 50/50 campaign and the cause of gender equality? How could you make this article more accessible for these readers?
  • What sources could be included in order to add more diversity to the article?
  • Why is it important to include more than one view in a gender-sensitive article?
  • If you were a reporter covering the 50/50 strategy meeting in Harare, what angle would you take?

Other training resources

Download : 13510_uplift_women_says_acting_president.pub

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