VIEWING THE UGANDAN MEDIA THROUGH A GENDER(ED) LENSE

The inaugural women in media workshop

Also available in Deutsch

Women representation in Uganda media continues to be a big challenge even though big strides have been made to bring in more female voices. Media images of women continue to reflect persisting stereotypes of women and often women’s voices are missing all together. Women are less visible in images used on the front pages of newspapers and panels on different TV stations are all male leading the recent ‘manels” outcry. Worst still, women’s stories are often times being told from a male perspective.

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Catherine Byeruhanga

In line with our quest for creating a just society where human rights and dignity are valued and upheld, we have been deeply convicted to do something to create a platform to discuss issues affecting Ugandan women in the media landscape and also how the media reports women’s issues. Apart from its objective to provide a network for women in media to work together and support each other, the focus of the project will also be broadened over time to reach out to the wider Ugandan public and to create a more equitable media platform for all Ugandans. The inspiration to initiate the women in media platform was informed by discussions at our 2016 Social Media Conference which placed an explicit focus on women and gender dynamics in the age of social media.

Media promotes women’s rights but it also creates a wave of threats which should be addressed. To avert this, there is an urgent need for a massive campaign to sensitize the public and even media practitioners on gender issues. This is because ignorance and naivety about gender issues lead to media insensitivity and blindness on gender issues which end up widening the gender schism in Uganda.

On breaking the patriarchal walls which is by far the greatest hindrance to the achievement of gender parity in Uganda, the Ugandan elites and journalists are advised to “take a pause, think and reflect deeply about the rationality and legality of their actions because many times we are blinded to think that as elites, we know it all” said Rosebell, a senior journalist and one of the workshop conveners.

The media also has a big role to play in breaking the patriarchal cycle. For instance, if a young girl grow up seeing only men on their TV screens at home discussing economic and political issues, she will get dissuaded to aspire to pursue a career in that discipline. Media houses should take deliberate efforts to include women in various roles from reporting to editorial platforms. Again, media houses should go an extra mile to implementing their ethical policies on gender sensitivity which most times remain shelved and not enforced.

The gatekeepers of patriarchy are women who are in comfortable positions. Women, therefore, too have a heavy responsibility to play to deconstruct the patriarchal nature of our society. “Let’s start with ourselves”, advised one of Uganda’s foremost emerging feminists.

With the proliferation of social media, online abuse of women has become the new normal. Words like sluts are popular, yet according to some women activists, this is a degrading and derogatory term. On that note, the platform will develop strategies for fighting online harassment on a macro level rather than as an individual. Still within the realm of social media, women activists should go beyond tweeting/passive activism to real work and grassroots engagement if the persistent structures that continue to dislocate the space of women in our society are to be broken.

We shall strive to take one small step at a time knowing that we will not see immediate results overnight, but overtime, something will change because great ideas aren’t revolutionary but rather incremental.

Author

Donnas Ojok

Publication series

Event Reports

published

Uganda, December 1, 2016

Mathias Kamp
Mirembe Susan
Participant
Catherine Byeruhanga
participants