Women journalists doing well, we just need to change coverage and framing

This, however is not to say that gaps do not exist and more needs to be done.

In Summary

•Studies and reports have shown that mass media is an information source that is widely available to the general public; TV shows receives the highest rate of attention among viewers and hence the media has a great impact of voter’s perception about candidate’s participation in politics.

•In recent years, social media have become increasingly prevalent campaigns to achieve social change. These include use of texting (SMS), internet- based online platforms including blogs, WhatsApp, facebook among others.

While they have been few, but where they have managed to fill impactful positions, they have left a trail if not continued to make impact./COURTESY
While they have been few, but where they have managed to fill impactful positions, they have left a trail if not continued to make impact./COURTESY

Women have done exceptionally well in media in Kenya despite their small numbers in decision-making positions in the newsroom.

While they have been few, but where they have managed to fill impactful positions, they have left a trail if not continued to make impact.

Quality is always ahead of quantity; and any discussion aimed at merely increasing the number of women in newsroom without looking at merit and the excellent results they have shown already is missing the point.

In addition, away from the mainstream media, a number of women head a number of the local language based stations, play critical roles in the community and college radio stations and are willing a lot of media/journalism awards.

And like the rest of institutions, media houses and institutions have put in place gender policies, affirmative action interventions and merit based regulations to ensure non -discrimination of women in opportunities.

This, however is not to say that gaps do not exist and more needs to be done.

Unlike in elective and appointive positions, pushing so much on affirmative action and especially in places where guys are performing well despite formerly structural and cultural challenges might lead to misconception.

The list of women who have occupied senior positions in media including editorial heads,Managing Editors, Associate editors, News editors, features editors, editorial Administrative editors and chief/deputy chief editors is very impressive.

Just a few names; Esther Kamweru, Rosemary Okello, Jane Godia, Faridah Karoney, Rhodah Orengo, Dorothy kweyu, Lucy Oriangi, Catherine Gacheru, Jemimah Mungai, Pamella Sitonni, Njeri Rugene, Joan Peruan,Pamellah Asigi, Jamilla Mohammed, Ellen Wanjiru, Linda Bach, Susan Kasera, Carol Kimutai, Mercy Oburu, Lydiah Manyasi, Josephine Karani, Rachael Nakitare, Caroline Wafula,Judy Ogacha, Dinnah Ondari, Mary Daraja, Christine Nguku, Rebecca Mutiso,Rachel Ombaka, RuthNesoba, Jael Lieta, Jane Masiga, Yvonne Okwara, Christine Ojiambo, Susan Kiprono, AgnesMwangangi, Judie Kaberia, Mercy Njoroge, Susan Karago, Patience Nyange, Nancy Agutu, Betty Dindi, Zipporah Musau, Jillo Kadida, Everlyne Kwamboka, Lillian Odera, Faith Oneya,Kwamboka Oyaro Lillian Aluanga, Dorcas Odumbe, Quinter Mbori, Sara Bakata, PhysllisNyambura, Anne Soy, Wayua Muli, Kanze Dana, Judy Munyinyi, Ruth Keya among others. Inthe academy we have Prof Wambui Kiai, Dr Nancy Booker, Dr Lydiah Anyonje, Dr Dorothy Njoroge, Njoki Chege, Dr Joy Omwoha, just but to name a few.

These are highly professional women journalists and academic giants that have inspired and diminished the notion of women requiring favours to perform.

They have worked alongside men journalists and mangers in the newsrooms to take our journalism to the global stage.

And as repeatedly mentioned, this does not mean that there are no structural and cultural, not necessarily professional challenges that have stood in the way of women and men progressing in the profession.

Among them has been non structured entry, progress and promotion in the newsroom, labour practices that allow people to work without contracts and structured performance appraisals, sexual harassment and lack of stability and job security in the media.

The bigger challenge in the media is largely around the issue of coverage of women and presentation including the issues of framing. Where media really needs to help is using the media to reduce the stereotypes and using the media to enhance women in elective positions.

“Serious emphasis and sustained reporting on inequalities meted on women and girls need more space and airtime on our media. There is more the media can do than there is today, to expose these violation of women and girl rights in our communities," Judie Kaberia of the Voice ofWomen and Girls Project notes.

“ Media must focus and expose the plight of girls and women still going through outdated traditional practices such as FGM, early forced marriages that continue to slow their progress."

The media has a very big potential in contributing to changing the perception about women and by extension in allowing them compete for positions on the decision making tables.

Let the media give women aspiring for elective positions space to share aspirations aimed at promoting them and act as a campaign platform.

By featuring in media programs or increasing their voices across media platforms, the women are able to reclaim their right to discuss issues related to their political interest in the public sphere using the media.

Many times, media has portrayed in a manner that hamper their push to be recognized.Media should lead in putting attention and setting agenda on issues that will remove obstacles to women progressing and violating their rights.

To stop violation of women and girl rights, we need a critical mass of people who understand and support the course; media is important in civic education and public awareness to change the narrative.

Studies and reports have shown that mass media is an information source that is widely available to the general public; TV shows receives the highest rate of attention among viewers and hence the media has a great impact of voter’s perception about candidate’s participation in politics.

In recent years, social media have become increasingly prevalent campaigns to achieve social change. These include use of texting (SMS), internet- based online platforms including blogs, WhatsApp, Facebook among others.