WAN-IFRA’s Women In News (WIN) programme enjoyed its official launch in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 1 and 2 July. The long awaited event, made possible by the funding of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), brought together 14 participants, representing media women from Botswana, Namibia and Zambia; two international career coaches; four national mentors; advisors and organisers to meet, network, and kick off the six-month programme with lively discussions, one-on-one coaching sessions, a newspaper tour, a management workshop, and more.
One Zambian participant, who will also be actively involved in the remaining six WIN gatherings, is Emelda Libanga, a sub-editor of the state-owned Zambian Daily Mail (pictured). WAN-IFRA spoke with Emelda about what drew her to a career in the media and what has attracted her to the WIN programme.
WAN-IFRA: You have some years of experience both in radio and now as a sub-editor with the Zambian Daily Mail. Why did you pursue a career in journalism?
Emelda Libanga: “I realised the power that a journalist has to change society, to influence society, so I thought if I had this power I could change society for the better.”
WAN-IFRA: Do you feel you have been making a change?
Emelda Libanga: “I have some frustrations at times because I feel like I could be doing more. Basically, I concentrate on giving [the government] publicity – just covering them and their programmes.I think of moving on to private media, although I’ve come to realize that it’s almost the same thing, pushing the agenda of the media owners. So I will have to see how I can fight my way through and change things for the better.”
WAN-IFRA: Was it your interest in a transition that attracted you to WIN? What brought you here?
Emelda Libanga: “When WIN was advertised as wanting to promote women and wanting to help women be assertive and assume more responsibility and make an impact on their organisations, I thought ‘Wow, this is an opportunity of a lifetime,’ especially coming from a background where we have such awful stereotypes against women. I’ve been a victim several times where there’s a position available, so you go to the interview and pass but they give the position to somebody else because they want a man there.
“I thought WIN would be an opportunity for me to move higher because regardless of what they do, regardless of how they try to suppress me, I believe that this will equip me, this will give me the confidence, this will give me the courage to fight on and achieve what I want to achieve in life.”
WAN-IFRA: If there is one thing that you could take away from WIN what would it be?
Emelda Libanga: “I need more exposure. Working for the Christian radio station I stayed in one place most of the time and then I joined the Zambian Daily Mail directly as a sub-editor so I don’t get to move around as much as the reporters do. So I’m hoping to be more exposed to other publications, to know what other publications are doing and how they’re doing it and see how other sub-editors are working in different countries. I think that will really help me.
“This is the first time that I’ve been meeting like this with people from Namibia and Botswana and immediately I am thinking ‘Yes, this is going to lead somewhere.’”
The next scheduled WIN events are the National gatherings, happening simultaneously in Botswana, Namibia and Zambia on 2 August, 2010.