Fostering gender parity through the media
March 15, 2016
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In addition, there is need for fairness in media coverage. The media mirrors what is prevalent in our society. The social construct that men are more important than women has led to men enjoying more positive coverage, while women feature in scandals and name calling – more negative coverage. This tends to discourage women from featuring in the public sphere.

Women are muzzled using sexist comments such as: she needs alangizi, or it is against our culture, and usually this is for the same actions that men get away with.

Such unfair coverage influences the way people think about women and girls, including how women and girls themselves think about themselves. This makes women and girls question and doubt their own abilities and shy away from taking up challenges.

Ensuring Gender Parity in media institutions is critical and part of the solution. While women are interested in, concerned with and write about things that men are interested in, a story told by a woman will address certain viewpoints that the same story written by a man may not.

While both viewpoints are important and relevant, the underrepresentation of women voices makes it imperative that we amplify women’s voices and perspectives. These can be addressed by ensuring the following:

  1. Opportunities: Creating spaces for women to get employment in the media under equal conditions.
  2. Influence: Gender parity in media houses should go beyond numbers, to getting numbers of women holding positions of influence.
  3. Education: opening up opportunities for girls to study and quality for good positions in the media.
  4. Demystifying and destigmatising journalism and media: media work is one of the highly stigmatised professions for women for several reasons – it involves research and travel (against social construct), among others.

Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) works with the media to promote gender parity. The media influence public opinion and whatever opinions are churned out have potential to influence the way society thinks. It is therefore critical that women are accorded equal opportunities to work in the media, be heard through media platforms and to receive positive profile in the media to ensure progress towards gender equality in Zambia and beyond.

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