IAWRT Kenya empowering young female journalists through mentorship

50 mentees take part in the Fourth Edition of the Female Journalists Mentorship Programme

By Mercy Njoroge

 

Behind many a success story is a fantastic mentor, someone to set you on the right path and give you sage advice in pursuit of a great career in the fore years.

 

For the last three years, the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) Kenya chapter has mentored 100 female university students pursuing journalism.

 

The mentees, who have been paired with mentors, receive guidance, expertise and professional knowledge from an experienced perspective. The mentees have received firsthand knowledge on topical issues such as safety of female journalists, digital security, leadership, practicing journalism in the digital era, news writing among others.

 

The programme has so far achieved remarkable success by enabling the young mentees get their articles published in mainstream local newspapers such as the Daily Nation, Standard, Taifa Leo and The Star. This is no mean feat!

 

In addition, some mentees have gotten opportunities to intern in mainstream media houses, while some have exceeded the expectation of their supervisors, earning themselves permanent employment.  

 

Raylenne Kambua, an alumna of Maseno University and a beneficiary of the programme, says Iawrt mentorship motivated her to explore beyond the everyday journalism but also aspire to be a key stakeholder and decision-maker in the industry programme.

 

“Currently, I am interning at the Kenya Editors Guild. I am eternally grateful to the mentorship programme that gave me access to the mentors, who are accomplished women in media. Their guidance and constant encouragement shaped my perception on the journalism career and now I am already meeting the goals I set and mentoring my colleagues,” says Ms Kambua, a mentee for the 2020 cohort.

 

Lydia Kwamboka from Moi University says the IAWRT mentorship programme has positively impacted her career in ways she could not envision.

 

“Through this mentorship programme, I received a health reporting grant which was offered by the Media Council of Kenya (MCK) and three of my stories were published in Taifa Leo,” says Ms Kwamboka.

Florence Gege, who recently graduated from Maseno University.

 

She is also an alumna of the mentorship programme and says she has been inspired to aim higher and she believes in herself and her ability to surmount challenges in her career. 

 

“I am more knowledgeable on how to navigate the media industry as a rookie and how to fast-track my ascent in the media industry upholding integrity and diligence,” says Ms Gege.

 

Throughout the programme, the 12 mentors from different media houses have been keeping themselves abreast with the development of former and current mentees through constant communication and physical meetings.

 

Last year, when the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic broke out, the programme had to make a dynamic shift and quickly adapt the virtual mode of communication. Thanks to the digital space, the programme ran smoothly through bi-weekly webinars, Zoom meetings and video calls that enabled it to achieve its goals.

 

IAWRT Kenya chapter chairperson Josephine Karani says the Covid-19 pandemic revolutionized the programme, broadening its scope and venturing into unchartered waters of the digital space.

 

“The year 2020 tossed us into deep waters and we had to learn to maneuvre and achieve the goals of the programme. We swiftly organized webinars to connect and tackle diverse topics. This was not only a learning moment for all of us but it brought to the fore the need to re-invent ourselves and adapt with the times. Today, as the situation keeps improving, we have incorporated virtual as well as physical meetings while strictly observing the Covid-19 safety protocols,” says Ms Karani, the programme coordinator.

 

She adds that the mentorship programme has achieved tremendous growth and created interest from other universities in the country.  

 

On May 9th 2021, IAWRT launched the Fourth edition of the Female Journalists Mentorship programme at a two-day event held at Bruckenhust Hotels and Conferences in Limuru.

 

At the end of the one-year programme, 50 students from Maseno University, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST), Masai Mara University, Moi University and Technical University of Mombasa (TUM) will graduate becoming more enlightened and skilled as they get into the media industry.

 

Former IAWRT President Rachael Nakitare, also the programme coordinator, has expressed confidence from the success stories told by the mentees. She acknowledges that the programme continues to equip the young women and sharpen their understanding of the industry.

 

The programme is funded by the United States Embassy in Kenya.

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Mercy Njoroge

The writer is a gender expert and currently works as a Gender Sub Editor at the Daily Nation. She is also an alumna of the WAN-IFRA Women in News, African Women’s Leadership and Mentorship Initiative and the IJNet programme. She is a member of IAWRT and has 12 years’ experience in the mainstream media in Kenya.

 

Photos from IAWRT Kenya