Panos urges the media to disseminate content that is free of bias, gender stereotypes
Lusaka, 08 March 2022: As Zambia commemorates International Women’s Day, Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) calls on the media and other communication actors to disseminate content that promotes gender equality and empowerment of women and girls for a better and sustainable tomorrow.
This year’s International Women’s Day commemorations are being held under the theme “Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow”. As an organisation that seeks to enable marginalized women and girls to succeed by speaking out on various issues affecting them, we consider this theme a wake-up call to every Zambian on the need for gender equality and enhancing women’s participation in shaping the development agenda, including their participation in electoral processes, and seeking public positions.
The media has a duty to shape the narrative on gender equality and participation of women in development processes. The tendency by some media actors to always portray women in the negative light is retrogressive and goes against the aspirations of various national, regional and international instruments for the promotion and protection of women’s rights. And when it comes to technology, we feel that affordable and simple transformative local innovations and new practices that shift social attitudes, norms or biases can also make a difference. We appreciate the financial independence that the mobile banking service providers have given to countless women. However, a growing gender digital divide exists and women are under-represented in the field of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and design. The media must highlight this challenge, and mobilise citizens and stakeholders to work together to create a society that is free of bias and engendered stereotypes.
The growing use of technology must be used to positively influence participation of women in decision making and leadership roles. This includes media coverage of woman and also having women in key decision-making positions as role models to young women. As PSAf, we feel a gender equal world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination, a world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive is possible and women’s equality can be forged.
Through support from the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), PSAf is implementing the Ziko Lathu Citizens Advancing Electoral Accountability project, which among others strives to see a Zambia that champions the inclusion of women and other marginalized minority groups, through amplifying the voices using media and technology. The project developed and deployed a technology based crowd sourcing and reporting platform for identifying and facilitating responses to electioral issues. Through this platform, we specifically deployed community watchers to monitor gender specific electoral issues across the country. That is why for us, our view is that we should not only wait for the International Women’s Day commemorations, but we should take advantage of each and every day to support women with platforms to hold duty bearers, civil society organisations and the private sector accountable on issues affecting women. Through the Ziko Lathu project, we also recognize the adage that states “empowering a woman is empowering the nation”, hence gender equality is an essential aspect to the development of a nation.
PSAf is also aware that there are many challenges that women face hindering them from realizing or showcasing their full potential and contribute to sustainable development. Equal participation and protection of women’s rights can greatly contribute to boosting of morale and self-esteem. We therefore appeal to the media and all stakeholders that have the mandate to safeguard and uphold women’s rights, to create platforms that will allow women’s voices to heard and included in decision making. The media, CSOs and government agencies have a huge role to play in promoting gender equality in Zambia.
Executive Director, Panos Institute Southern Africa