For too long, the media in Southern Africa has portrayed women as victims of violence or objects of beauty – not as human beings with hopes and visions, dreams and aspirations. The media itself, purporting to reflect society, is unrepresentative of that society. On average, only about 20 percent of journalists in Southern Africa are women. Less than five percent are managers or owners of media houses. Because of Southern Africa’s racially tumultuous past, few religions in the world are as acutely aware of the intrinsic nature of fairness and equal say to democracy. Yet we don’t appear worried when women, who constitute 55 percent of the population, only occupy 18 percent of the seats in parliament and lag behind in every conceivable economic indicator. Can the media make a difference? Should the media make a difference? “Whose views, whose voices: A Southern Africa Handbook on Gender in Media” lights the way. Every media manager, owner and practitioner committed to freedom of speech would be well served by going through this checklist – and embarking on a more systematic course to making gender equality a living reality in our news rooms.
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