BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
FEMALE journalists have been challenged to influence editorial policy within their respective media organisations to address gender inequalities.
Speaking during the 2021 WAN INFRA Women In News (WIN) Leadership Accelerator programme virtual graduation, where 91 African female journalists, 10 from Zimbabwe, graduated, WIN executive director Melanie Walker said research has shown that the number of women in leadership positions in the newsroom is still below 30%.
Journalists were trained on leadership and media management over a period of nine months.
WIN executive director Melanie Walker said progress in promoting women’s representation in leadership positions in the media had remained stagnant in the past 15 years, not exceeding 30%.
“The pandemic has dragged on, and along with it, has illuminated the widening inequities and poverty gap on the African continent, and globally,” Walker said.
“The pandemic has exacerbated a parallel crisis of public distrust in the media driven by widespread disinformation campaigns and the proliferation of fake news.
“Your individual and collective voices, your ability to influence editorial policy and commitment to bring about cultural change within your organisations is even more vital today. Each of you, however, is the change. We hope you will use the skills, strategies and support networks that WIN has equipped you to contribute to and help to lead a healthy, inclusive and resilient news media industry.”
Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) senior Programme Manager and Specialist, Democracy and Human Rights, Freedom of Speech Fredrik Westerholm said female journalist participation was important to uphold human rights and promote peace.
“Your work is so important and fully in line with the Swedish strategy for human rights and freedom of expression, and also the Swedish feminist foreign policy,” Westerholm said.
“Women in the media play a very important role as actors for change and you have a key function for the continued work with human rights and peace.”