By Hedvig Lundstrom
Beata Kasale, WIN Steering Committee Member and CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Botswana’s best selling newspaper The Voice, acknowledges that it is sometimes difficult to influence the political decision-making process. However, she underlines that it is essential to continue pushing for gender equality and sensitizing politicians to accept women.
The task of awareness rising can perhaps be facilitated by female government officials. The Zambian Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Hon. Mulenga Kampamba, has challenged media executives in the country to consider talented and hard-working women to senior management positions. Botswana’s Minister of Education and Skills Development, Dr. Unity Dow, gave an inspiring speech at the National Roundtable in which she encouraged women to support each other in order to “break the glass ceiling”. The two ministers also awarded the certificates to the WIN graduates in their respective country.
The aim of the Round Table in Zambia was encourage media executives to adopt gender policies and make sure that their media stories are gender balanced. All the major publications of the country were represented at the meeting in Lusaka, including The Times of Zambia, The Daily Nation, The Daily Mail and The Defunct Post. The fact that a minister attended the event might have given more weight to the theme of the meeting.
Nebat Mbewe, Managing Director of The Daily Mail in Zambia, praised the impact of the programme, stating that there is a remarkable difference between the staff that have gone through the programme and their colleagues. Former WIN participants tend to be more confident and to perform better than their counterparts. Indeed, it seems as if the empowerment of women simultaneously is a good long-term investment. Addressing these issues from within the newsrooms as well as from the political sphere is a good strategy to ensure the inclusion of a gender perspective in news as well as in society in general.
WIN’s collaboration with governments in Africa has so far been a success. It is a mutually beneficial partnership to help implementing regional agendas of gender equality. According to Beata Kasale, WIN has the advantage to be able to approach government officials at a top level. This unique mandate implies that there are more possibilities to make a real change when it comes to rising questions related to women’s rights.