A leadership skills boot camp for women media leaders in Africa opened on Saturday in Naivasha, Kenya, with a call for media institutions to deal with bottlenecks that promote gender inequalities in the media.
About 115 female journalists from 13 African countries have converged for the five-day boot camp organised by the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) and the World Association of Newspapers (WAN-IFRA) to build female journalists’ capacity for leadership roles.
In her keynote address, Pamella Sittoni, executive editor for The Daily Nation at the Nation Media Group in Kenya, emphasised the need for equal opportunities among men and women in the media in terms of promotion and salary grading.
According to Sittoni, inequality has led to poor coverage of women’s issues in the media as most key decisions on media content are made by men.
She said: “The future of the media also lies in diversity, particularly gender. Media houses must exercise gender equality in newsrooms. This is simply a matter of natural justice because, to exclude women from the leadership of any organisation, is to exclude a half of the ideas. It is to exclude half of the society. The time has come for many more women to take up senior media leadership positions.”
One of the facilitators, Paula Fray, who is also founder and managing director of the pan-African media training organisation Fray Intermedia, urged the media to strive on telling stories that matter by putting the audiences at the centre of their work.
She said: “We journalists need to hold on to our value and integrity. The audience should continue to trust us in the wake of fake news. Always treat audiences with respect and consideration and cultivate loyalty in them.”
The participants have also been encouraged to opt for professional advancement through continuous training, working together in fighting sexual harassment in the work place as well as stop viewing men as adversaries but partners.
During the boot camp, participants will have a chance to learn from industry leaders leading their fields in digital media, data journalism, newsroom management, media management and women leadership.