Media gets beating for its sexism

Katlego Moeng

Katlego Moeng

Gender Links (GL) yesterday kicked off its third Gender and Media (GEM) Summit by honouring Southern African journalists who have championed the cause of women.

Ten awards, including acknowledgement for television features and news, photojournalism and HIV and AIDS, were given to television journalists.

But GL also blasted sexism in Southern African media.

It contradicts its vision of a Southern Africa in which women and men are able to participate equally in all aspects of public and private life.

In a study it conducted, GL showed that women constitute only 21 percent of news sources and that gender equality as a topic comprises four percent of all coverage. The study also found that women occupy minority seats in the parliaments of the region.

Only three countries, South Africa, Mozambique and Tanzania, have achieved the 30 percent target of women in parliament.

Colleen Lowe Morna, GL executive director and GEMSA committee member said: "Laws and systems for addressing gender violence are not being implemented properly. Only seven percent of sexual assault is successfully prosecuted.

"What makes this even more worrying is that one in nine case is actually reported. Media is perpetuating gender stereotypes.

"The reality is that only eight percent of politicians quoted in media are women. The media as champions of democracy must get their own house in order."

She also questioned why black women make up only six percent of people in media.

"The Glass Ceiling report by the South African National Editor's Forum shows that the media is not only male dominated but is doing very little to address the issues," Lowe Morna said.

The three-day summit, organised jointly by GL, Gender and Media Southern Africa (GEMSA) Network and the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) was opened by Agriculture Minister Lulu Xingwana.

The theme of the summit is Whose news, whose views?Critical citizens, responsive.