WIN Mentor Yvonne Tshepang Mooka is an award-winning journalist who honed her trade for almost ten years at Botswana's The Midweek Sun and The Botswana Guardian. Earlier this year she resigned to grow her wings. She now works with an international broadcaster, where she focuses on entrepreneurship.
Yvonne has been with WIN since 2016. She shares her story, her purpose in journalism and success as a WINner with Leah Mushi.
Q: Last year you won a MISA Botswana award – congratulations – please tell us more about it
A: Thank you very much!!!! I was awarded Best Journalist on Issues of Gender and Human Rights by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA). A very humbling moment for me as I believe in equality for all. You cannot talk about democracy without tackling issues of gender and human rights.
Q: Why are issues of human rights and gender-based violence (GBV) important to you?
A: I started covering Human Rights and GBV issues in 2013. I had noted that they were deemed insignificant by most of our local newspapers. The coverage was very minimal. I started with children's issues and won Best Journalist in Reporting in this category in 2013 and 2014.
As I continued establishing a rapport with stakeholders on Children's Rights and advocacy, (such as the then Kagisano Women's shelter), I also received a lot of information on GBV. Next, LGBTIQ+ issues, sex workers, human trafficking, health, among many others.
As the media, we have an advocacy role to play. Social Justice Journalism requires that we understand our advocacy function.
Q: Why is it important for women journalists to cover issues such as GBV?
A: Women need a voice. Our representation is very small in any sector of the economy. There is strength in the voice of a woman. Take, for example, the late Beata Kasale of The Voice newspaper. She started the paper when the industry was male-dominated. I used to read her column, and I could tell she had fiercely mandated herself with reporting on GBV. She would write human interest stories, analysis or features on GBV. As time went on, the publication was already pulling front pages with GBV stories. It was amazing! The public started giving them serious attention.
We must consistently report on GBV so that policymakers can get the message. GBV must end! Bring it home every week a rape case is reported. The so-called 'passion killing', defilement. If we do not report on these as women, no one else will. I am saying this because I have seen the attitude of our male-counterparts towards GBV issues-they are not interested.
Nevertheless, there is a ray of hope right now looking at how far we have come. And we should not stop.
Q: Tell us about the importance of journalism and your purpose as a journalist
A: Journalism is one challenging yet fulfilling profession. It is exciting but very taxing, both mentally, physically, and emotionally. There is a lot that we do as journalists. Ours is a noble profession that comes with a lot of challenges. It takes passion, determination, focus, curiosity, and having a clear understanding of media ethics. Journalists are servants; therefore, our code of ethics gives direction and guidance.
Q: You are WIN Botswana National Mentor – please share the importance of mentorship in the field of journalism?
A: Every other fortnight, Women in News mentors (Botswana chapter) go to Limkokwing University to address Future Leaders. They are a group of over 200 young women that are enthusiastic about journalism. The aim is to bridge the gap between the institution and the industry. We give them a feel of our newsrooms and share our honest experiences, the good and the bad. It is exciting to see our Future Leaders appreciate what it takes to be a journalist and to have a glimpse of our day-to-day experiences. They become empowered. Without mentorship, it will become challenging to thrive in the newsroom and the industry. I have seen young people quit within two weeks because of the pressure.
Q: What did WIN do for your career?
I will forever remain indebted to WIN for making me love my career the way I do now.
WIN has helped me value my career so much, at the same time giving back to those coming after me. There is a sense of purpose. I won many awards. I conquered many battles and have many people look up to me. I advise people on Career Excellence.