In a powerful call for change, women journalists, policymakers, and experts from around the world gathered in Kigali, Rwanda, at the Marriot Hotel for a pivotal two-day Africa Women in Media conference. The focus of the conference was to address the pervasive issue of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) within media houses, particularly in Africa. Held from November 30th to December 1st, the event served as a beacon of hope and solidarity, fostering discussions and strategies to tackle this pressing challenge.
The staggering figures presented underscore the urgency of addressing GBV within media institutions. They serve as a testament to the pervasive nature of the issue and highlight the imperative need for systemic changes to ensure the safety and empowerment of women in media across Africa.
During the keynote panel on Media and Gender Violence, notable figures in the media landscape highlighted the urgency of combating GBV within media institutions. Arthur Asiimwe, Director General at Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA), candidly acknowledged the issues within the media landscape, stating, “As a media manager, I feel guilt regarding the underrepresentation of women in media and the distressing prevalence of violence against them. Let us take ownership, raise awareness, and be sensitive to take clear action.”
In an interview with Family Magazine, Dr. Yemisi Akinbobola, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of AWIM, and a leading advocate for women in media, emphasized the motivations behind the workshop, stating, “Our goal was to bring policymakers and influential voices together to pool thoughts and ideas on eradicating the scourge of GBV. Collaboration and shared strategies are key to effecting real change.”
The conference provided a platform for collaborative brainstorming and the exchange of innovative ideas. Workshops, seminars, and interactive sessions fostered a sense of unity and determination among participants. Strategies, from advocating for policy reforms to fostering inclusive and respectful work environments within media organizations, were fervently discussed.
Yolande Makolo, Rwanda’s Government spokesperson, emphasized the steps being taken by the Rwandan government to address Gender-Based Violence in Media. She highlighted, “It’s all about good governance; leadership is important. This is a country that promotes women and works very hard for gender equality, not only in the media sector but also in other sectors.” She added, “For a country that is a champion in promoting women, this is a sector we are also interested in. We understand the role of journalism, and we want to support that.”
Regarding Rwanda hosting the conference, Makolo conveyed Rwanda’s enthusiasm for hosting the AWIM Conference 2023, stating that Rwanda is open and welcoming to all individuals interested in visiting. She encouraged others to join, emphasizing the nation’s commitment to embracing diversity and facilitating events that foster global collaboration towards shared objectives. As the conference concluded, a palpable sense of optimism permeated the atmosphere, accompanied by a renewed commitment to effecting tangible change. Attendees pledged to carry forward the momentum gained, aiming for a future where women in media are respected, valued, and free from violence. Despite these commitments, studies conducted by organizations like the African Union and UN Women reveal that nearly 70% of female media professionals have encountered various forms of violence, ranging from verbal abuse to physical assault, necessitating strong measures from everyone to address this issue comprehensively.