“It is important to have all voices heard," says New Vision editor Catherine Mwesigwa on gender equality in the media industry.
PIC: New Vision editor Catherine Mwesigwa (left) addressing participants during the launch of a gender equality project in Kampala. (Credit: Francis Emorut)
KAMPALA - Media and constitutionalism experts have called for gender equality in the media, saying for long, the industry has been dominated by males.
They argue that if not checked, gender inequality will persist - in disregard to government policies that promote gender equality.
"If we gave women more space, we should not be having many problems. It is not a social obligation, but is a legal obligation to ensure gender equality in the way we do things," Francis Gimara, the former Uganda Law Society president, said.
He urged both state and non-state actors to accord women dignity and eliminate any forms of discrimination as stipulated in the Convention of Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and adhere to constitutional provisions that promote gender equality.
Gimara was speaking during the launch of a project tittled 'Media for Gender Equality and Social Justice: Leaving no one behind' in Kampala, organised by Uganda Media Women's Association (UMWA).
His proposition was that media houses in the country should design editorial policies that take into account gender equality and licensing institutions should monitor the implementation of editorial policies.
Gimara also called on media houses to embed gender concerns in programing, management and news reporting and ensure there is gender parity.
"It is important to have all voices heard."
Catherine Mwesigwa, a New Vision editor, said gender inequality in media houses is a global problem and something should be done.
She said the world's 100 largest media houses are grappling with the same problem - having only 17% of women in top management and 25% of news content produced by women.
Mwesigwa added that a New Vision survey conducted in 2011 in Uganda showed that 67% of men are in top management and leadership positions as well as governance.
In the study, 30% of news content was produced by women while bylines for political stories were male-dominated.
So who is to blame for the gender bias in the media industry?
"All of us. Not media trainers and managers, but society in general," Mwesigwa said.
"It is just a reflection of the society the media serves.
Dr William Tayebwa, who heads the Department of Mass Communication at Makerere University, underlined that gender mainstreaming is vital in achieving gender equality in the media.
He said Mass Communication undergraduates' intake for female stands at 52% at Makerere.
Tayebwa said gender mainstreaming has been incorporated in the curriculum and urged media managers to give female graduates opportunity to practice journalism and not chase them away for public relations jobs in the non-governmental organisations.