Women who feature in news are more likely to be found in ‘soft’ stories such as celebrity and arts unlike their male counterparts who dominate ‘hard’ news and photos.
This week, journalists attended a workshop on gender responsive media reporting organised by the Gender Monitoring Office (GMO), in partnership with the Media High Council.
The workshop was meant to strengthen the capacity of the media to collect, analyse and report information with gender sensitive dimensions.
Whereas most media houses have incorporated media issues in their broadcasts and publications, their approach appears not to give women enough coverage.
Out of 52 percent of the women’s population worldwide, recent statistics indicate that only 21 percent of them featured in news. And the women who feature in news are more likely to be found in ‘soft’ stories such as celebrity and arts unlike their male counterparts who dominate ‘hard’ news and photos.
A random sample of recent daily and weekly publications in Rwanda at the workshop, stressed this point.
It’s probably against this background that, in his opening remarks, the Deputy Gender Monitor at the GMO, Cyrille Turatsinze, told participants that much as a number of strides have been taken to improve the status of women in various aspects, there are still a number of challenges to deal with. GMO is seeking to bring the media on board.
Turatsinze was flanked by Eugenie Kabageni, the Deputy Chief Gender Monitor in charge of Gender Based Violence (GBV).
It is understood that the political will makes the efforts of the GMO look decidedly clear. GMO was created just about one-and-half years ago to track compliance with fundamental gender issues.
Turatsinze stressed this when he said that the September 1995, Beijing Declaration requiring governments to remove all obstacles to gender equality and many other international laws were very clear, but without the political will they could remain on paper.
“There is high level [political] will in the country to provide an enabling environment,” Turatsinze said while he called on the media to play a bigger role.
“The media can shape public opinion, determine the public discourse and thereby shape the political, cultural environment and influence policy,” he added.
Turatsinze also warned the media against promoting stereotypes. “The media can play a critical role in society and give a voice to those whose voices are marginalised.”
Patrick Mico, another gender expert at the workshop said despite the challenges, a number of achievements had been made in the last 15 years.
He cited the government’s national gender policy which among other things ensures 30 percent representation of women in decision making, empowering women economically through cooperatives, the Guarantee Fund which was created to increase women’s access to credit facilities.
Others include ensuring education for both girls and boys, and the succession, labour and land laws which were enacted to protect women’s rights over property and employment.
2210/2111 budget gender sensitive
For the first time in years, this fiscal year’s budget which was read about a fortnight ago in Rwanda is gender sensitive.
Various institutions were required to indicate how people on both sides of the sexual divide would benefit from the budget in the pilot domains of agriculture, health and infrastructure.
“It was the first time it was planned that way,” Mico said.
This precious requirement could have come sooner.
Men and women emancipation
Rwandan men are increasingly accepting the role of women in the social economic transformation of the country—breaking the traditional role of men as the only bread winners, allowing more women to join politics, making more women to play bigger roles in decision making.
On Tuesday, June 29, one Senator Dr Alvera Mukabaramba joined the August 2010, Presidential race when she submitted her documents to the National Electoral Commission (NEC).
Under the Party of Progress and Concord (PPC) she has the mandate to contest for Rwanda’s top seat.
“My party chose me as a woman capable of standing for the presidency which shows the consideration our country gives to women,” she is quoted saying to the press.
More women in the country have made economic progress after securing loans from the women guarantee fund set up by the government, it was revealed.
However, what was more striking was the revelation that more single women who accessed the loans, were able to pay back compared to their married counterparts. The GMO didn’t specify the figures; a report is yet to be released.
However, what was noted is that, single women can stick to their business plans uninterrupted, due to their autonomy in matters of decision making, while married women tended to be swayed away from their original plans by their spouses.