Zimbabwe media challenged to act on gender and diversity

WAN-IFRA and Zimbabwe based Gender and Media Connect (GMC), organised a round table workshop on gender and diversity for Zimbabwean media houses with support from FOJO International and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

By recognizing that as an industry the media need to take greater accountability to improve gender diversity in the newsroom, boardroom and content that is produced, this meeting sought to discuss how best newsrooms in Zimbabwe can embrace diversity while at the same time, finding innovative ways to make a business case for diversity.

The discussion comes against a backdrop of various advocacy initiatives, which both WIN and GMC have been working together on, particularly in relation to the adoption of gender policies and gender aware practices in the day-to- day operations of media houses in Zimbabwe. Dialogue was around the business case for diversity, while sharing practical advice and tools that can be used by top media managers, as a way of identifying industry-led solutions to improving gender diversity. Newsrooms were also encouraged to actively seek fair representation of men and women in their workforce and content.

Susan Makore, WIN Coach for Zimbabwe observed that gender balanced sourcing remains a problem and a challenge in most newsrooms’ coverage. She attributed the low number of female voices and sources to factors such as fear to voice opinions and fear of being analysed, which forces journalists to work with the
same sources. She added, “Our newsrooms have not been conducive working environments for younger female talent. This has contributed to the low numbers of women in the newsroom as they are discouraged from gaining work experience that would get them to senior positions.” Speaking at the event FOJO International Director Kersti Forsberg urged newsrooms to address the gender balance in content. “The answer is simple. Make a decision and act on it. Actively. As you do so, you will gain access to new content that appeals to a new audience.”

Vincent Kahiya, Steering Committee member for WIN Zimbabwe observed that media have the power to build new sources and that there is a need to move away from the ‘old sources we know’ and take time to culture new sources and encourage diversity. The result of that is a new audience, which will essentiallyreflect on the bottom line if newsrooms make that commitment.

To cement the promotion of diversity, Gender and Media Connect also launched its 2018 women sources handbook, ‘According to Her’ at the event, which contains women sources from various sectors that journalists can use when they write their stories. GMC and WIN have been working together since 2015 to advance the gender agenda in the newsrooms in Zimbabwe.

GMC is an organisation that has been specifically advocating around gender and media issues in Zimbabwe through primarily advancing the cause of women media practitioners as well as empowering women through the media. The WIN programme works toward building the capacity of high-potential women journalists and editors to take on greater leadership roles, while seeking to remove organizational barriers to this progression by identifying industry-led solutions to improving gender diversity.

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