Women In News (WIN) hosted its first Round Table discussion with Kenyan media managers yesterday in Nairobi, to discuss the gender gap in media management and to create pathways to address it.
“Systematically, women have been excluded from decision-making in the Kenyan media landscape and this has to change. Media managers should realise the potential in women and tap into it. said Executive Director of Media Council of Kenya, Dr. Haron Mwangi. “Programmes such as WIN help highlight that need”,
Dr.Mwangi also shared some alarming statistics on the representation of women in senior management in the media in Kenya adding that business is a key driver for media in this time of digital transformation – “ Digital is becoming ever important and it is opening opportunities for women, who should be encouraged and supported to seize such opportunities,”, he said.
During her presentation, Merceline Nyambalo, Executive Director for the Association for Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK) addressed the gender gap issue by saying “Women’s voices in Kenya are muzzled and they are not being given prominence. The voices are too few to begin to impact on society. Women account for only 22 percent of the voices being heard in the media”, referring to the gender bias in news reporting.
According to Nairobi’s People Daily; 60% of Kenya’s accredited journalists are women, yet they make up only 20% of leadership roles. “Unless women become managers in the media, their presence will have limited impact. It is critical that media companies create and implement gender policies to help address the gender gap in the media”, she said.
This view was echoed by veteran Kenyan journalists, Rosemary Okello, who said “WAN-IFRA needs to be commended for their programme of developing media managers among women. “There is need to develop strong networks to help amplify voices of women so that they have some authority and also to change the narrative”, Ms Okello added.
Director of Women in News in Africa, Tikhala Chibwana, has called on Media Managers in Kenya to re-examine the question of gender bias in the media in order to remove some of the obstacles that hinder women’s progress in the media.
“Most of this gender bias may not even be deliberate. Some of it is unconscious bias as a result of conditioning and socialization. There is an urgent need to deliberately re-examine the state of gender bias in the media and work towards reducing it,” said Chibwana.