Pat Made

Pat Made

Date: March 24, 2011
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My GL journey began earlier than the GL we know today. Colleen Lowe Morna and I worked in the same international news agency (IPS) for years and while I was still at the news agency in the early 2000’s, Colleen and Zohra Khan in the early days of GL worked with IPS Africa to produce manuals for the media on Gender, Religion and Culture and Gender-Based Violence. I think GL has always been Colleen’s destination and she took me amazing routes to get to it.

I became more involved in the organisation’s areas of work in 2002 when I decided to step out in faith and left the international news agency where I had been employed. It was a time when I harboured many questions inside about ‘what could I do’ and ‘what would I do’ without the security blanket of a full-time job.

GL and the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) were in the throes of putting together teams of country researchers for the first baseline study on gender in the media in Southern Africa. Gender and the media had been a core component of my management work within the international news agency and the then Federation of African Media Women-SADC office in Zimbabwe asked me to help coordinate and do the research for the Gender and Media Baseline Study (GMBS) in Zimbabwe.

This was the beginning of my research journey with GL which flourished into my being a part of several gender and media research projects and products. I have learnt how to not only develop research methodologies and methods for shinning a gendered lens on the media, but my writing and analysis skills became sharpened. The gender and media research projects I have been associated with in GL helped me to identify a passion and love for research that I did not quite realize was in me. And in 2006, I applied for and was accepted into an MPhil programme in Social Science Methods at Stellenbosch University in South Africa to academically train at a graduate level to be a researcher. I can say with certainty that it was GL that sent me towards this particular degree, because through the organisation’s work, I found one of my passions.

But gender and media research was not the only part of the ride. Colleen and her team thought I had something else to offer, and I became involved in the conception and production of training manuals for the media and non-governmental organisations on various issues, and I began a journey throughout Southern Africa facilitating and training media and civil society groups. This journey has taken me to 11 of the 15 countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and to almost every province in South Africa. Tertiary institutions in the region with media and journalism education programmes such as the Polytechnic of Namibia (PON) and the Zambia Institute of Mass Communications (ZAMCOM) became second homes for me. Amazingly, I first met the current ZAMCOM Director when he was a lecturer in photography at the institute.

The best learning on my journey with GL has been the knowledge, inspiration, the grace of acceptance and sharing of information from the multitudes of people I have encountered in every country. Just as one example, during my jaunts to conduct communications and media workshops with civil society on gender and HIV and AIDS, and gender-based violence, I remember many lunch-times where South African women and men shared their hopes and dreams for their country and even gave me insights into their daily lives and work. It is a privileged when people invite you into their lives.

I have been part of GL’s governance structure as a member of the Board for eight years with some of the most amazing, gifted and humble women and men. But here I want to write about my journey in using my skills and knowledge, when called upon throughout the past eight years. This journey has given me an invaluable education. If institutions of higher education did award doctorate degrees for knowledge gained through hands-on experience, then I am sure my train journey with GL would put me at the head of the class!

Pat Made is the former director of Inter Press Service and an independent media researcher and trainer. She is a founding GL Board Member.


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