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Media houses to promote gender-sensitive stories

By Vision Reporter

Added 4th June 2015 06:00 PM

The Ugandan media offers limited positive coverage of women and largely portrays them as victims of violence, a study funded by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has found.

Media houses to promote gender-sensitive stories

The Ugandan media offers limited positive coverage of women and largely portrays them as victims of violence, a study funded by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has found.

By Taddeo Bwambale

The Ugandan media offers limited positive coverage of women and largely portrays them as victims of violence, a study funded by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has found.


The findings of the study were unveiled during the launch of a training manual on gender-sensitive journalism at Protea Hotel.
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The manual is designed to help the media to introduce gender mainstreaming at different organisational levels and empower them to offer gender-balanced coverage.

Dr. Patricia Litho, who carried out the study and designed the training manual said the study that assessed gender coverage of New Vision and Bukedde dailies as a case study, revealed ‘gaps’ in the way the media portrays women.

“Women are mostly visible in stories about nurturing, health, beauty and fashion. Sports and politics is a male domain,” she said.

Presenting a case study on Vision Group’s pilot training on gender sensitive journalism, the editor-in-chief, Barbara Kaija said the project uncovered biases against female reporters.

According to Kaija, some female reporters working upcountry said they were not confident about pursuing hard news stories, and were often victims of sexual harassment.

 

United Nations Population Fund representative Esperance Fundira (L) with the state minister for Gender Rukia Isanga Nakadama during the launching of a training manual for media. PHOTO/Godiver Asege

Most of the stories were published by male journalists and were dominated by male figures. The study examined the media’s administrative policies, language, content and images.

Although New Vision and Bukedde were the subjects of the study, Kaija said the findings are a true reflection of the challenges in Uganda’s media.

Female journalists comprise less than 30% of all active media professionals yet the number keeps reducing as they move on to other fields.

The state minister for gender and cultural affairs, Rukia Nakadama applauded Vision Group for piloting gender-sensitive journalism and warned the media against reckless reporting.

“If the media continues to stereotype women through their coverage, it perpetuates unfair positioning of women in society and their subjugation,” she said.

During a panel discussion on whether the media can support gender equality, media experts and activists proposed a shift in the way the media covers women.

Bernard Tabaire, a media trainer and co-founder of the African Centre for Media Excellence said when covering women, the media should focus on issues rather than the aesthetics of their looks.  

“Each time we focus more on how a woman is dressed, rather than what is inside her head, we objectify women and that is to say they don’t matter in society,” he stated.

Citing recent leaks of nude pictures of female celebrities, Tabaire said the media treats women as subjects of entertainment, instead of raising questions on privacy infringement.

He proposed that media houses take deliberate efforts to invite female hosts for radio and TV talk shows, an area he observed is been largely dominated by men.

Catherine Kanabahita, the director of the Gender Mainstreaming Directorate at Makerere University said training was required to orient journalists in gender-sensitive reporting.

“For a journalist, it may create a dilemma between telling the truth and adhering to the sensibilities of gender,” she said.
She observed that some of her highly educated male colleagues at the university still hold prejudiced views about women, in spite the introduction of courses in gender.

Vision Group’s managing editor (editorial policy) David Mukholi, explained that gender-sensitive journalism is basically good journalism.

Margaret Sentamu, the head of the Uganda Media Women’s Association noted that the Ugandan media was largely ignorant about the concept of gender.


 

Media houses to promote gender-sensitive stories

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