Implementing gender equality policies in Southern Africa
Ever since the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) took over the leadership of the Southern Africa Journalists Association (SAJA) at the launch in Johannesburg in 2006, gender equality within the media has been a priority. The focus of the Union has been, among other issues, the reduction of sexual harassment cases, enhancement of the status of women journalists, promotion of active participation of women member journalists in union affairs, equal and fair remuneration of journalists, and the safety of journalists, especially female.
Although through ZUJ’s leadership, SAJA has held a number of gender-oriented programs and campaigns to attain gender equality, several challenges still deter the development of female journalists and the implementation of gender-oriented programs. For example, findings from a Gender Audit report conducted by SAJA (in collaboration with IFJ) reveal that men are the predominant employees in media houses in Southern Africa (61% men compared to 39% women). Hence, men dominate managerial and decision-making positions in the newsrooms. Furthermore, fewer female journalists enrol for internships and assignments since there are fewer qualified women journalists emerging from universities and tertiary education institutions.
This project therefore aims to strengthen freedom of expression through building the capacities of journalists to defend their rights and further open space for plurality and diversity of opinions. This will be attempted by conducting a regional Media and Gender Stakeholders Conference, whose actors will include representatives of Journalists Unions, reporters, editors, media organizations owners, key regional corporate advertisers, government representatives and officials from SADC Secretariat on Gender, with the goal of adopting a Draft Protocol on Media and Gender. The other immediate goal of the Conference is to set-up a regional Gender Council.