UMWA launches annual media gender awards

Uganda Media Women’s Association (UMWA) today launched the Annual Gender Media Awards aimed at making gender-sensitive reporting standard journalistic practice.

The awards will recognize journalists and media houses who demonstrate gender awareness, sensitivity and inclusiveness in their reporting.

Ms Margaret Sentamu, the UMWA Executive Director, said the awards also aim to “motivate upcoming journalists to embrace gender-sensitivity” in reporting.

A gender sensitive story, according to UMWA, treats men and women equally, interrogates inequalities, injustices or stereotypes, and promotes positive progress.

Ms Sentamu decried the slanted coverage of gender issues by media, noting that the practice reinforces dependence of one gender on another and escalates unfairness, injustice and discrimination and lopsided policies.

Ms Elizabeth Lwanga, the team leader, Women Situation Room, Uganda, who presented a keynote address on The need to keep the gender balance right, especially so, now!, said she looks forward to seeing an increase in the number of gender-sensitive stories in the media.

“The awards should be welcome not as a ceremony but a very serious intervention to strengthen and sharpen the role of media in the development of the country,” she said.

Ms Lwanga appealed to journalists to guard the integrity of their profession and desist from headlines that are sexist and portray women as sex objects.

General Duties Minister Mary Karooro Okurut, who was the guest of honor, said the gender media awards provide a real watchdog platform for reporting gender.

She appealed to the media to watch the language they use and how they report.

“In rural communities, if they read anything in the papers, or listen to it on radio, it is taken as the gospel truth. Are we upholding women’s dignity or trampling them?” she wondered.

She castigated Ssenga sessions on radio and TV where relationship problems are blamed on women and media programs that host children as young as four years “dancing bend over” with each other.

“Government has made very strong strides in women empowerment. It’s not yet Uhuru but we have moved.”

The inaugural awards will recognize stories published or broadcast between September 2016 and February 2017 – a period of six months. The awards ceremony is slated for May 2017.

The awards will also recognize media houses that will be monitored over a period of time.

Journalists can submit stories to any of the 12 categories that include;

Print Media

  • Best News Story
  • Best Feature Story
  • Best Specialised Report
  • Best Photograph
  • Best Cartoon

Radio

  • Best News Story
  • Best Feature Story
  • Best Documentary

Television

  • Best News Story
  • Best Feature Story
  • Best Documentary
  • Best Visual/Images

Vox pops from award launch panelists

Mr Charles Ogwel, Director United Media Consultants and Trainers (UMCAT): Gender has not been given priority in our trainings. Our curriculum has no specific components incorporating gender issues. It’s the discretion of the lecturer to handle that during presentation of a topic on gender.  We need to deliberately develop a curriculum on gender for training because gender issues are quite complicated. That’s why for me we are still at zero.

Carol Beyanga, Daily Monitor Managing Editor, Digital: We have editorial guidelines which we live by. It states, among others, how we are supposed to report on women and minority groups. Are we following the policy? Of course not.  Even if a reporter is gender-sensitive and there is an editor who is not, there is a problem. It’s a culture change. We need to have a conversation. We need to have our editors sensitized about gender sensitive reporting because they have been around for long and they may not have undergone training on gender. We also need to also think about men consistently in our reporting. It’s important to know that the truth is also important. If women have done wrong, we have to say it.  We shouldn’t say because she is a woman, we shouldn’t report it.

John Bapist Imokola, News Manager, NBS TV: We tend to handle gender as something unique and not part of society which it is. We as editors we need to go back and rethink where we want our country to go.

About Harriet Anena

Harriet Anena is ACME’s Special Projects Officer hanena@acme-ug.org @ahpetite

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