WIN has also seen its influence expand in the past year, with its global reach growing in countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Southern Africa. Now, women media professionals in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Botswana, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Somalia are benefiting from the peer-to-peer coaching, job training and group sessions that WIN inspires.
The Zambia Daily Mail is a fixture within the Women in News programme. 10 women have been enrolled since 2010 and top management has been working with WAN-IFRA on Executive Roundtables since March 2016. The paper now counts a 50-50 male-to-female ratio within middle management, thanks to WIN’s focus on capacity building and job training.
“WIN participants are now an asset to the organization,” says Emelda Libanga, WIN Steering Committee Member and Editor of the Sunday Mail. “Their contribution is reflected in the continued improvement in the quality of the newspaper’s content and subsequently the awards won by the organization - such as the Bank of Zambia 2016 Financial Literacy Week ‘Outstanding Media Coverage’ award in the print category, and ‘Best Gender-Sensitive and Responsive institutional award.’”
When it comes to WIN’s success, the proof is in the pudding – 82 percent of the 45 year one participating media professionals reported that they “often” or “always” use their newfound skills in the workplace, 74 percent say they have more confidence in the newsroom and 69 percent report having more motivation at work since joining the programme.
“The newsroom is becoming more friendly to women and we note that efforts are being made to empower women and promote them where such opportunities arise,” says Victoria Ruzvidzo, Managing Editor at Zimbabwe Papers. “As a result, I feel there are good opportunities for women to progress.”
Advocacy is an equally important component of the programme. Using a series of Executive Roundtables, 54 chief editors and CEOs from 41 media houses in Botswana, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lebanon and Palestine took part in advocacy activities in year one.
Discussions centered on how to promote gender equality in the news and within media houses as well as how to address key challenges. By the end of the year, 25 media groups had completed a Baseline Organisational Assessment, a 50 question gender audit which will be revisited at the concluson of the 4-year programme. An additional 47 future leaders and 25 legacy WINners engaged with the programme in the first year.
“The change in attitude by media houses can be seen from the well-attended Roundtable meeting by media executives,” says Sandra Agyemang, Head of Investments at ZSIC Ltd and a WIN Coach. “It is not easy to bring media heads together, especially on gender matters, but their positive response shows that there’s a change in attitude towards gender issues.”
As part of its advocacy efforts, WIN also utilized several practical resources, such as the WINing Strategies handbook. The handbook – published in both English and Arabic – looks at the various approaches to gender mainstreaming in the media and served as a guide to the Roundtable activities.
Using 10 case studies from around the globe as examples, the handbook looks at internal mentoring programs, quotas and financial incentives for top management to recruit a more diverse workforce to act as a complement to the rest of WIN’s activities. Two additional handbooks have been created for WIN, on internal mentoring and how to integrate gender equality into the newsroom.
As the Women in News: Gender and Media Freedom Strategy looks ahead to year two, it has several goals in mind. The programme plans to engage up to 30 new media partners in its capacity building and advocacy activities. And in order to inspire the next generation of editorial leaders in Africa and MENA, WIN will recognize two editorial leaders who have shown exceptional talent and contributions in a public forum.
And of course, WAN-IFRA will continue to push forward as a leader in gender in the media, making sure gender equality is never far from the industry’s consciousness and creating lasting partnerships with like-minded organizations to keep the vision of Women in News alive. That’s a promise that has continued to have value for participants.
“We now understand the programme better,” says William Chikoto, Editorial Executive at Zimpapers. “It is a serious programme and we want to continue being a part of it.”