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Gender Equality and Gender Responsive Policies yet to be achieved in Kenyan Media Houses: Gender Media monitoring report

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The Media Council of Kenya on 2nd December launched a media monitoring report titled “Gender Agenda- Assessing Gender Issues in the Kenyan Media”.

The report which was launched at the Aga Khan Graduate School of Media and Communications in Nairobi focuses on the domination of men in the media sector; sexual harassment at work; working conditions for women; and the lack of gender policies in media houses in Kenya.

The Media Council of Kenya is a media regulatory statutory body which through the Media Monitoring and Research Unit monitors and releases reports on various media outlets using the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism as a benchmark to gauge the performance of the media in Kenya.

The launch was attended by Ms. Faith Kasiva, UN Women Kenya Team Leader for Socio-Economic Development on behalf of the UN Women Country Director Ms. Zebib Kavuma, the Associate Dean for academic affairs at the Aga Khan Graduate School of Media and communications Dr. Rhonda Brett, the Chief Executive Officer Media council of Kenya Dr. Haron Mwangi, alongside editors and journalists from the various media houses in Kenya.

Figure 1: UN Women representative Faith Kasiva and the Media Council of Kenya CEO Mr. Haron Mwangi during the launch of the Report

The report revealed the exclusion of women in the media industry noting that 62% of articles in newspapers which were analyzed during the research period were written by men.

The report findings also showed a significant gender imbalance in politics reporting and stereotyping in the advertisement sector where it was found that 44% of the advertisements portrayed typical gender stereotypes.

Worryingly, the report findings indicated that 62% of journalists in Kenya are not aware of any gender policies or strategies and networks within their work places.

Mr. Mwangi in asserting the need for reforming the media industry pointed out that although the Kenyan constitution has provisions for equality between men and women which the media has been pushing for, the media in itself has not been reformed.

He further pointed out that the profession has major underrepresentation of women especially in the executive level of the media houses, regulatory bodies like the Media Council of Kenya (MCK), Communication Authority (CA), and the editors’ guild which negatively affects access to information.

To achieve balanced representation and implementation of gender policies in the media industry, the Chief Executive Officer of the Media council of Kenya highlighted the urgent need to sensitize women on their role in the media institutions. He further added that the sensitization initiative needs support from institutions and organizations championing for gender rights so as to transform the existing policies into action.

Figure 2: Media Council of Kenya CEO Haron Kamau Makes his remarks

The UN Women representative Ms. Faith Kasiva applauded the report as timely in equipping all media stakeholders with more information and understanding of gender issues in Kenya’s media, enriching debate on gender equality and helping in formulation of concrete policies around advancement of women regionally and worldwide.

Highlighting the correlation between the findings of the Media Report by Media Council of Kenya and the Global Media Monitoring Project 2015, Ms. Kasiva noted that the gender gap is narrowest in stories on science and health, and widest in news about politics and government.

“The ways in which women are depicted in the media have a profound effect on societal attitudes and reinforce traditional gender roles. Women and girls are half of humanity. Giving equal time and weight to their stories, and featuring them as positive models not victims, plays an under-appreciated part in creating a better, freer world for all of us”, she added.

She further reiterated UN Women’s commitment in increasing women’s voice and leadership, increasing access to opportunities & resources and ending violence against women, a pandemic that is fueled by discrimination and sexual stereotyping.

The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the Aga Khan Graduate School of Media and Communications Dr. Rhonda Brett acknowledged the radical transformation of the media globally that has seen more involvement of women across all stages of production and further challenged the media houses in Kenya to look beyond the gender balance in the newsrooms and address women rights issues.

Figure 3: the Agha Khan Graduate School of Media and communications Dr. Rhonda Brett

The report gives an in-depth analysis of how the media has covered gender issues in the country and goes a long way in enriching debate on gender equality and helping in the formulation of concrete policies around advancement of women regionally and worldwide.

The launch included a question and answer session that saw editors, writers, producers and presenters share their views, challenges and practical experiences in gender issues within their work places.

Jane Godia the Editor at African Woman and Child Feature Services attributed the lower numbers of women than men in the industry to sexual harassment faced by many during their apprentice stages.

More findings of the report can be found [HERE]

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