Women representation in Media as news subjects at 28% – UMWA Report
By Wod Omoro
A recent study by Uganda Women Media Association (UMWA) on media responsiveness to gender in Uganda has shown that whereas women form the majority of the population, 28% were news subjects as opposed to 72% of males. The study was carried in 90 days.
The study that was done with funding from the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives further showed that women make only 30% as talk show guests, while men make 70% on both radio and television with only male hosts. The study was done in 12 media outlets both print and electronic
The study also found out that there is a close relationship between the sex of the reporter and the proportion of female and male news subjects appearing in print news stories.
It was also found that female reporters covered more female news subjects and quoted more females in their stories as opposed to the male reporters. In equal measure, male journalists gave more audience to male sources.
Speaking to journalists while releasing the findings of the report, Margaret Ssentamu, the executive director of Uganda Media Women’s Association said that the media has a great responsibility to turn the tables so that it becomes responsive to societal demands.
She further called for the representation of both genders in a more responsive manner, and encouraged the media to take up its central role in transforming society.
Ssenatmu concluded that there is need to move from policy formation, and enacting laws to implementing them as she added: “I am calling upon the government to increase the budgetary allocation to the ministry of gender labour and social development which has got the mandate to implement gender issues better.”
Brenda Namata, the UMWA Public Relations Officer noted that journalists should adhere to the values of gender sensitivity when reporting in order to strike a balance.
Namata further called for the development of gender specific policies that will make newsrooms more gender sensitive.
She further called upon media training institutions to have gender equality as a course unit in their training manual.
On the issue of female talk show guests speaking less when all the panelists are apportioned equal time, Namata said that talk show hosts should propel the female guests into speaking more, and not just inviting them into a conversation so that they speak during the prime time of the programs.
She recommends that timers should be put into talk show programs so that all panelists are given time.
Currently out of the over 50 higher institutions of learning, only Makerere and Uganda Christian universities have course units on gender responsive reporting though uptake by male students in it is still low.
When asked whether it is a societal stereotype whereby women shy away from speaking to journalist, Cothilda Babirekere the Project Officer in charge of gender at UMWA had this to say:
“As much as it is a societal process, we are trying to undo what was done so that people can start reporting responsively.”
Babirekere implored journalists to go the extra mile to get the women news subjects talking so that the narrative that they are shy to speak is changed.
The first study was done in 2014, and it shows that there has only been a 9% improvement in media responsiveness to gender which according to UMWA will make it very hard for Uganda to achieve the sustainable development goal five (SDG5) in 2030 as far as gender equality and equity in the media is concerned.
Unless all the key stakeholders come on board to address the gaps from an intersectional point of few, UMWA says it will only remain a dream to have a gender responsive media in Uganda.