EDITORIAL: Gender parity in local media in very dire straits

Late last month, Ethiopia and Rwanda hit world headlines by achieving new milestones in the realm of gender parity.

Both countries announced gender-balanced and leaner cabinets with 50/50 per cent male/female representation. Ethiopia also unveiled a female president, the fourth in African history, as well as well as a female head of the Supreme Court.

Rwanda was already riding high with the highest female representation in parliament, so it was unruffled by all the media attention.

On the other side of the Atlantic, America failed to elect its first black female Governor as the final race was heading to the wires by press time. But two Native American ladies went through, and as one sarcastic commentator said: “After 229 years”!

Gender is an important piece in this world’s jigsaw puzzle and should not be ignored.

Yesterday, as we were celebrating Africa Information Day, the whole gender parity gap in our country hit home; the proportions are much skewed in the male favour. The female footprint in the Rwandan media is very faint – and worrying.

It all begins in the newsroom. If every news organisation had in place pro-gender policies in their institutions, that would be the beginning. But it seems that the subject has been relegated to the bottom drawer.

The issue of gender parity should be on the top of the agenda in celebrations such as the Africa Information Day instead of the usual dull speeches that nobody seems to remember after the event.

Let Rwandan media take up the challenge; that this time next year, the gender scale should have been tipped in favour of equal representation. It all begins with one step.