Victoria Falls (New Ziana) – Zimbabwe is pursuing media reforms that are, in part, envisaged to foster gender parity in the sector whose top leadership positions have largely remained male-dominated, a Cabinet Minister has said.
This was said by Information, Publicity, and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa in her address to the virtual launch of the WAN-IFRA Women in News Africa 2022 cohort, which she attended on the margins of the 3rd
Zimbabwe-Botswana Bi-National Commission here.
She said media houses across Africa and the world at large have fallen short in providing an enabling environment for women to rise in the industry.
She said challenges including pay grades, slow and low progression to leadership positions, remained a hindrance.
“It is extremely discouraging that men hold more than 70 percent of newsroom management jobs in the majority of countries, while female journalists hold only 27 percent. It is, therefore, not surprising that women are noticeably scarce from decision-making positions within media houses in Africa and elsewhere,” she said.
“In the case of Zimbabwe, we have introduced a raft of media reforms in the last three years, which has resulted in the appointment of three female journalists to head the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation as CEO (Adelaide Chikunguru), the Sunday Mail as Editor (Victoria Ruzvidzo) and Manica Post as Editor (Wendy Nyakurerwa-Matinde) as well. We also have one of your Alumni, Faith Zaba, who is Editor of the privately-owned newspaper, The Zimbabwe Independent.”
In addition, Mutsvangwa said, the Second Republic had also opened up the media landscape through issuing new television and radio broadcast licenses, a development which is envisaged to create more opportunities for women.
She said while it was important to celebrate the notable achievements of some female editors and managers, a lot was needed to create an even field.
“As Government, we encourage media organisations to actively provide the necessary support and training to retain and advance female media workers to C-suite positions,” she said.
Mutsvangwa said sexual harassment of women in the media industry also remained a major cause for concern.
“Ladies, on sexual harassment, I am aware that a report from Women in News published on 26th January 2022 highlighted unacceptable sexual harassment prevalence rates in the media. According to the report, 40 percent of women media professionals have, in one way or another experienced verbal or physical sexual harassment in the workplace. Yet only 1 in 5 reported the incidents.
“Though less prevalent, men have not been spared, with an average of 12 percent experiencing verbal and or physical harassment, from you women,” she said.
“My Ministry, being in charge of media in Zimbabwe, is committed to do more to engage media regulatory authorities and heads of media houses to actively put in place measures to stave off sexual harassment in the media workspace. All organisations must have functional sexual harassment policies that clearly outline reporting mechanisms and resultant penalties for perpetrators.”
Meanwhile, the WAN-IFRA Women in News leadership accelerator 2022 programme is being attended by 181 women selected from a pool of over 500 applicants.
The participants will, over the next nine months, go through an intensive course that covers actual leadership and management situations that affect newsrooms.
“I, therefore, urge all of you to distinguish yourselves in this very-sought after initiative by Women in News. Use this chance in full to develop into the phenomenal female media practitioners you are destined to be.”
Participants are drawn from countries including Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Tanzania, Botswana, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.