A year ahead of the deadline to attain equal representation of women in the ownership and decision making structures of the media, in accordance with Article 12.1 of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, media practitioners met in Maseru this morning to reflect on the progress made.
A breakfast meeting organised by Gender Links for Equality and Justice, brought together editors and reporters of various radio stations and newspapers in Lesotho to look at opportunities and challenges on gender equality coverage in the media in the country.
In his welcome remarks, the National Director of Media Institute of Southern Africa Lesotho chapter, Tsebo Mats’asa said in Lesotho to on the gender’s agenda is upleaftment of women to decision making positions. He told participants that Lesotho is doing well in terms of women ownership and decision making in the media sector.
He said that media houses such as Harvest FM and Bam Media that owns Informative Newspaper and Finite Magazine are owned by women.
With regard to women in decision making positions in the media, he cited media houses like People’s Choice FM, Radio Spes Nostra (formally Catholic Radio), KEL Radio, Lesotho Times Newspaper, Mosotho Newspaper and Lesotho News Agency where women are either editors, sub-editors or managers.
He also argued that in Lesotho information departments of some civil society organisations and private companies are led by women.
Mats’asa challenged the participants to take advantage of the ICT developments in Lesotho and world at large by creating social networks aimed at facilitating peer interaction to achieve the aspirations of the SADC Protocol of Gender and Development in Lesotho. He cited twitter, facebook and WordPress as networks that the participants would use to have a continued dialogue on gender equality in media.
He also brought to the attention of participants that Lesotho would be going for election very soon and political parties would be making pronouncements of various policies. As a result it would be important to push for inclusion of media and gender policies in the manifestos of various political parties.
The Lesotho Media Facilitator Gender Links Mpho Mankimane reported just after the meeting that the next step would be to assist individual media houses to develop gender policies.
According to Mankimane some of the challenges identified were;
- Media practitioners’ lack of knowledge about the protocol and genders issues
- Gender issues do not sell.
- Unwillingness of women to provide information to journalists especially on gender violence stories.
- Location of media houses in Maseru makes it difficult to cover districts because of lack of resources.
Lesotho signed the SADC Gender and Development Protocol on the 17th August, 2008.