Women Call for Gender Responsive Media Coverage without bias
By Our Reporter
Women activist have challenged media owners in the country to be more responsive in the way women are reported about in the media.
This call was made during a stakeholder’s reflective dialogue organized by Uganda Media Women Association at Hotel Africana Kampala last week on Thursday, to reflect on how the media sector in Uganda has actualized the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action, BPfA through gender responsiveness.
Miria Matembe; the keynote speakers who is a renowned women rights activist underscored the importance of media in shaping narratives in the society as she added: “Media is very important because it communicates this knowledge which is needed by people either to embrace certain aspects or to fight it for their own progress.”
She called for gender sensitiveness among media practitioners when reporting, by reporting fairly and equally what both the male and female gender is doing, and not sidelining the women.
She advised the media not to stereotype women by reporting negatively about them especially basing on the dress code and physical appearance but to focus on what they say. “My dress code does not affect my intellectual capacity and wisdom to head a department. Women should be looked at in terms of their intellect and not their dress code and appearance,” she added.
She also rallied media houses to put women at the table and not on the menu in decision making positions. “So women should sit at the table in high decision making positions so that they also influence decisions that affect the information that comes out of their media houses.”
Matembe concluded that a lot still needs to be done in the country to ensure a gender-responsive media where both men and women are reported about in equal and fair measure, and noted that there is little political will to promote gender parity concerning women. According to her, most of the women in big positions in government and private sector do not wield powers to make crucial decisions in their different entities.
Margaret B. Sentamu, the Executive Directive of Uganda Media Women Association while speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the conference said that there has been some progress since BPfa, whereby there are more women in the media space which was not the case in 1995 when the number was less than 10% compared to today where it stands at almost 50-50 representation.
However, she says it is not yet enough because most of the women in media are in lower positions of leadership and do not make crucial decisions for their companies. Sentamu also noted that media policies in the country are not gender sensitive and a lot more needs to be done to promote a gender-responsive media.
She concluded that government needs to help women overcome the fear of appearing in the media unlike their male counterparts who thrive on it.
Angripinner Nandhego; a political participation and leadership program specialist at UN Women-Uganda; who was among the keynote speakers said that said that women are equal beings and productive members of society, and there is need to put in place policies that can protect their rights in the media.
She also urged the media to desist from promoting bias on women in the way they are reported about.
According to Joseph Higenyi, the Programs Officer at UMWA, the representation of women as news subjects dropped to 25% in 2021.
The 2020 GMMP report indicates that women are only 24% visible in news media, a percentage only accumulated at a 6% rate within the past ten years.
The activists appealed to all stakeholders in the gender space to rise up once again and rekindle the fire of promoting gender equality, not only in the media space but the whole society.