Activists demand fairer coverage of women by Ugandan media

The media in Uganda has been urged to accord both men and women equal coverage and opportunities to express their views.

The call was made by a number of speakers at a public dialogue organised by Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung at their offices in Kampala on 9 March, 2017. During the event, four leading women in media, civil society and research – Patience Akumu, Halima Athumani, Rukh-Shana Namuyimba, Eunice Musiime and Madina Guloba – led deliberations on the theme: Media coverage of women in the every-changing world of work.

Ms Akumu, research and policy coordinator at Oxfam in Uganda, urged the media to “stop objectifying women”, adding that society does not value the work that women do.

Writer and blogger Rosebell Kagumire decried the media’s failure to report and analyse issues through a gender lens. “A lot of our reporting is gender blind,” she said.

While there was agreement on the need for the media to provide more balanced gender reporting, the dialogue highlighted the divided opinions that exist around strategies to increase the number of women working in news.

Ms Namuyimba, a news anchor with NBS Television, said women should not expect a free ride because of their gender.

“As women, we have to pull our weight. We have to work doubly hard to prove ourselves since we are already disadvantaged,” she said.

Ms Namuyimba added: “We need to move away from saying, ‘I need to be empowered’. Empowered by who?”

This point of view was echoed by Dr Guloba, a research fellow at the Economic Policy Research Centre, who presented a paper on the status of Ugandan women in the workplace. She said that sometimes women put themselves in a disadvantaged position by failing to be flexible at work places.

“You can’t try to impose yourself as a woman in a place where jobs are few,” she said.

The other panelists hotly disputed this point of view, contending that policies on improving the welfare of women are not being implemented, and women’s contributions to society not rewarded.

“We can’t sit here and pretend that it’s a level-playing field at the work place,” said Ms Musiime, the Executive Director Akina Mama Wa Africa.

She referred to the many occasions when women are forced to exchange sex for employment, noting that “Carpet interviews are prevalent but not many women are willing to talk about it.”

To see a full reaction and discussion of the dialogue visit the the #womeninmediaug campaign.

Harriet Anena

Harriet Anena is ACME’s Special Projects Officer

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