Before you make that comment, ask yourself if you would be overjoyed if the same was said of your daughter, sister or mother. We should engage and promote the media to bring about a society we all love to live in.
By Brian Mutebi
He said no blood should be shed in his name and he resigned. It got me thinking: What a wise thing to do! Why should I be party to groups that perpetuate things that gravely abuse my conscience; groups that promote what society should have phased out centuries ago? I will resign.
I will resign from WhatsApp groups that circulate videos of a young woman who made one error and some individuals choose to make that funny as though they never make mistakes themselves. I will resign from such groups; I will not follow Twitter Hash tags, especially from women who belittle fellow women. Do they know what they are doing?
Statistics of women in the media do not paint a nice picture, the reason we should not pull down those few trying to penetrate this space. Women formed only 25% of the news subjects on television compared to 75% for males, according to the Global Media Monitoring Project; Uganda National Report 2015. It was 28% in the print media for women, while males had a huge 72%. According to this report, the situation was even worse for women featuring on radio, at a meagre 13%, forming news subjects. The men took the lion's share of 87%.
The space is small for women in the mainstream media. Not that women do not have what to say or they are less intelligent, no. It is societal barriers and insensitive behaviours in the media such those we saw against Spice Diana that bring about these appalling statistics. So, as you make fun of or retweet such videos, you may be pushing more girls and women into obscurity.
When one woman comes out in public, makes an error and we all do, but you choose to use that to belittle her, other girls and women will fear public spaces for fear of making mistakes and being ridiculed.
As we work to attain a society free from all forms of violence against girls and women, some people seem determined to drag us decades back.
One may say, ‘I will not promote it, but equally it is not worth my effort to condemn'. Well, if girls and women have their rights abused in your silence, you are equally guilty. Silence is the greatest enemy of girls and women. One dangerous behaviour that goes unchallenged may breed more abuse and violations. I will not be party to that. No woman should be belittled in my name, I resign.
I resign from norms and behaviour that add no value to my generation, yet pose a risk to girls and women. You, too, should. The world cannot afford to keep silent on girls and women! We must speak out and up. I resign from such retrogressive platforms to save lives of girls and women, my time and money. Such conversation is not worth my MBs, no!
It is also important to note that this is not only behaviour on social media where there is little or no regulation but, unfortunately, sometimes, the ugly hand of girls' and women's rights violation finds its way unto newspaper pages and TV screens. One time, a tabloid newspaper ran a screaming headline, "Beautiful but unlucky" where they listed several women in the city they branded "sexy" but were not married so were "unlucky".
A report from the East African Journalists Association noted that gender awareness and sensitivity is yet to be built into news reporting requirements. The Beijing Platform for Action recommended increased participation and access of women to expression and decision-making in and through all forms of the media and promotion of a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media. It is over two decades since this was recommended, but gender insensitive language and gross violation of girls' and women's rights are still evident in the media.
The media is central in bringing about a society free from abuse and discrimination, but it is also our individual responsibility. A simple self-check may be helpful. Before you make that comment, ask yourself if you would be overjoyed if the same was said of your daughter, sister or mother. We should engage and promote the media to bring about a society we all love to live in.
The writer is the executive director of the charity, Education and Development Opportunity - Uganda