Rwanda has significantly eradicated female stereotyping in various sectors - media. is one of the few still taking a back seat.
In any society, a woman’s voice is essential to its development. However, it is said that Rwanda’s media industry is a “man’s world”. This stems from the fact the field is dominated by men.
Most people will agree that one of the biggest challenges facing women today in media is eliminating cultural disparities and bridging the gap between men and women - hence encouraging equal opportunities without any gender bias.
29-year-old Ange Soubirous Tambineza is a news anchor and presenter of Rwanda Today, a daily morning show at KFM. According to Tambineza, women’s performance is perfect and would only get bigger and better if they felt appreciated and comfortable.
“I would say women’s performance in media is perfect in spite of the small number of female practitioners. And the number and level of appreciation would increase with ease,” Tambineza says.
Tambineza recognises the need to enforce minimum wages in media houses and the government’s trust in media for better performances that will eventually erase gender imbalance.
“Unprofessionalism in reporting is not about to stop until journalists stop struggling financially,” Tambineza adds.
Women should not be underrepresented in news coverage, according to Tambineza. To her, the presence of women on radio, television and in print is more likely to provide positive role models for Rwandan women and girls to gain the confidence of women as sources and inspiration, and to attract a bigger audience.
Emma-Claudine Ntirenganya is programme manager at Radio Salus of University of Rwanda. She has been a journalist for the past nine years and she chairs Ikirezi Group, a company that runs the Salax Awards. She is one of the most engaged female journalists in the country because of her various commitments.
According to Ntirenganya, female media professionals in Rwanda are subject to prevailing social, economic and cultural norms. Their views, attitude, assignments and productivity often reflect these norms.
“When looking at the top managerial seats in media like producers, senior editors and senior reporters, the most striking gender issue is that the industry is dominated by men. It’s a cultural mindset that women are considered delicate and therefore can’t just get assigned tough field work or head-cracking tasks,” says Ntirenganya.
However, considering her success in media, Ntirenganya says that the number of women working in the field has been gradually mounting nationally, though the top positions (producers, executives, chief editors and publishers) are still very male dominated.
“This disproportion is basically due to cultural impediments that female journalists are more suitable to ‘soft’ subjects such as family, lifestyle, fashion and arts than the ‘hard’ news, politics, economy, production and editing that are much more likely to fall in masculine domain,” Ntirenganya says.
Ntirenganya seeks the government’s hand in acknowledging the influence of media to national development saying that it’s through empowering media in general that women’s participation in this industry will effectively equal their male counterparts.
Marie-Louise Uwizeyimana has been practicing journalism for eight years now; she was voted Journalist of the Year 2013 and is the managing director at Intego, a local news tabloid.
Uwizeyimana attributes the low level of female engagement in media to lack of motivational drive and the challenges that come with this profession. She calls on women to have an in-depth study of media. “We hope the government and other partners design a framework to train activists to build gender and media campaigns using appropriate and applicable sources aimed at increasing the involvement of women in the media.”
The Global Media Monitoring Project (2009 report) stated that women in Africa are more likely than men to be featured as victims of media gender-limitations if there are no communication initiatives aimed at changing attitudes and behaviours of women and girls to media.
However, the good news is that modern education, together with the advancement in science and technology, have accelerated productive efficiencies and capabilities of women as much as men.