Gaborone — The media industry has a long way to go when it comes to giving an equal platform to and representing women, says Women In News, WAN-IFRA executive director, Ms Melanie Walker.
Speaking at the launch of the 2021 Women In News Leadership Accelerator Africa Programme held virtually recently, Ms Walker decried gender imbalance in positions of power and decision-making within the media industry.
“Women representation in management levels within the media is equally lopsided and one only needs to look at the absence of women listed on our mastheads or look at management meeting,” Ms Walker said.
She said women were mostly cited as expert sources, appear on bylines or featured as subjects in the news just over 25 per cent of the time, despite making up more than half of the global population.
Thus, she said Women In News programme, created a decade ago, was to equip women media professionals with skills, strategies, support networks and resources to succeed.
For her part, Sweden ambassador to Zimbabwe, Ms Asa Pehrson said her country had over the years, facilitated training of groups of skilled professionals that ensured that news production values were high and that widely held ethics were followed.
She said Women In News Accelerator Africa programme also deserved their support in order to further develop consistent and comparable data on women representation in media in all countries.
She said all had the responsibility to stand up for gender equality and democratic values in order to counter shrinking demographic spaces and authoritarian tendencies across the globe, adding that Women In News programme was such an example of how people could work together.
“Sweden applauds the women and girls in media and public life who defy hate speech, threats and unfair gender imbalances and support their work to provide citizens with the information and news needed to make enlightened decisions about their lives, communities and governments,” she said.
Meanwhile, one of Women In News alumni, Ms Tryphina Dongwana, also managing director of Weekend Post newspaper, said women leaders needed the services of Women In News programme.
Ms Dongwana, who started with Women In News in 2015, said the programme had helped her as a woman leader.
She said Women In News had helped her with tools needed to execute her duties diligently, adding that through support from the progamme, she had been able to put in place a sexual harassment policy at the Weekend Post.
According to Women In News director for Africa, Ms Jane Godia, this year 92 women from Africa were chosen for the nine- month long programme from over 500 applicants.
She said the number was the highest since the start of the programme, saying many women in the media industry had recognised the importance of the programme.
Source : BOPA