By Sarah N. Bakehena & Eunice N. Kasirye
IAWRT's Uganda Chapter is working on implementing strategies to improve media gender recogition and representation.
It has held several workshops on gender mainstreaming for senior media managers and reporters from stations in Uganda.Their purpose was to create awareness and to empower media managers and journalists with an understanding of the value of gender mainstreaming, as well as to stimulate dialogue on incorporating gender issues into media output. They also aimed to to come up with an implementation strategy which will include developing a Gender Mainstreaming Guide for Media in Uganda.(Pic right: Irene b. Mugisha Treasurer IAWRT Uganda Chapter and left is Ms. Sofie Matovu Programs Manager Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) Television).
Uganda, like many other African Countries, presents serious concerns in terms of gender imbalances and inequities in employment opportunities, female participation and the portrayal of women and girls.
The Beijing Platform for Action for Equality, Development and Peace places specific obligations on the media, both in the way women participate and in how they are portrayed. It has objectives that require signatory nations and their citizens to ‘increase the participation and access of women to expression and decision-making in and through the media and new technologies of communication’ and that demand that governments and other organisations, businesses and individuals ‘promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media’
During the workshops, the participants observed key issues affecting women in the media in Uganda.
- Lack of an ability to demand their space in the media industry from the newsrooms. The majority of female journalists are trapped in junior and subordinate positions in the newsroom because they lack what it takes to push to decision lines and even lack mentorship to gain excellence.
- Majority of female journalists are assigned or even opt for less challenging tasks for fear of going an extra mile to make them shine.
- Female journalists are often compromised by male bosses whom often turn them into people with less self esteem.
- News sources are also said to be abusive to female journalists.
- Some female journalists have done little to diversify their knowledge and skills, which makes it hard for them to be assigned to critical stories.
- Capacity building and development is not taken seriously by most female journalists and is often used as an opportunity to get off routine work or even for spoiling oneself.
- Some female Journalists tend to dress in a way that takes away their dignity.
- In Uganda, because the media is so demanding, some media owners prefer that a journalist should be at work on a daily basis. When female journalists become pregnant, it is a reason for them to be demoted or asked to leave for good. This is a breach of the labour laws.
- Female journalists in the regional areas still struggle with conservative societal perceptions about the role of women in society..
- Remuneration for female journalists is wanting. Even when they do the same job as their male counterparts their pay is little, inconsistent or paid partially or in arrears
Key Strategies for Gender Mainstreaming:
As a strategy, IAWRT Uganda Chapter agreed to
* Develop a Gender Media Guide
* Develop a Code of Ethics to protect women against discrimination in the media.
* Profile all female journalists around the country
* Undertake a mentorship program for all women in the Media in Uganda to empower them with key journalism skills.
(Pic: Ms. Rose Namale Board Member IAWRT Uganda Chapter and Mr. Tyaba S. Abubaker Programs Manager NBS Television).