Cohorts for the 2017/18 Women in News (WIN) media leadership programme have spoken well of the Reshaping Media Leadership summit that took place in Nairobi, Kenya in the past week.
The three day summit drew media women and managers from eight African countries including Malawi, Zambia, Rwanda, Somalia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Kenya.
Discussions were centred around best practices in mobile from newsrooms to audiences, industry solutions to sexual harassment, increasing women leadership in media and increasing gender balance in news.
Mandy Pondani, Times Group’s Mzuzu Bureau chief is one of the 2017-2018 WINners as they brand themselves and said the summit offered a rare opportunity for mingling and networking with people of substance within the profession.
“It was a 360 degree kind of opportunity for every ambitious female media personality. As women working our way up in the newsroom ladders, we need to be aware of the change dynamics of news and journalism due to social media and digitalization.
“Things are changing and we cannot afford to be left behind. We are the solution to the challenges we face in our newsrooms every day and we should be champions of our own causes,” she said.
Nkhoma Synod radio programmes manager, Happy Mzembe-Chabuka agreed it was an insightful programme.
“I noticed that issues of sexual harassment, gender imbalances and women not getting managerial positions in the newsrooms and other circles, are challenges that other countries face, too. The good thing is that we discussed and shared ways of dealing with them,” she said.
On her part, Nation Publications Limited’s entertainment editor Edith Gondwe said: “I now appreciate that female journalists are capable and talented enough to achieve anything. But the problem is that we often look down on ourselves, which in the end makes our male counterparts appear better journalists. It is time to change our mindsets and handle ourselves as equal partners to our male counterparts. That way, we will make positive impact in the media industry and get the recognition we deserve,” she said.
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) director of media development Melanie Walker indicated in her opening address that the WIN media leadership programme continues to have an impact.
“We are a strong community and that is what keeps us going and what continues to have an impact. This is a programme that achieves clear results and we found that by addressing the overall leadership development and working to empower the women who have gone through the program, results happened. Nearly one in five participants reported a promotion in the past six months; 93 percent of the trained editors and journalists report increase in self confidence; and 88 percent of them report increased contribution to their newsrooms,” she said.
WAN-IFRA is a global newspaper organisation that focuses on media freedom.
Walker said it was after realising that there could never be true media freedom without equality of voices that the WIN programme was launched in 2010.
“It was launched as a small pilot programme focused on mentoring, networking, career coaching and skills development. We believe firmly in strengthening networks and that those networks are going to be crucial to the progression of the careers,” she said.
She also noted that as a result of the programme, 71 percent of media partners now understand better the need to promote gender balance in their organisations and they report a greater commitment to support gender equality within their organisations.