In December 2015, five Kenyan women journalists embarked on a life and career-changing journey courtesy of World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WANIFRA). The five: Anne Mbotela, Everlyn Kwamboka, Faith Oneya, Mercy Njoroge, and Wanjiru Kinoti were part of six-month Women in News (WIN) programme whose objective is to bring together media women with potential to equip them with necessary skills so as to reach their full potential in their media houses.
37 women journalists from Sub-Saharan Africa, attended in – house resident trainings in Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Ms. Christine Nguku who is the national coach, WIN Kenya and also a member of the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK) spearheaded the Kenya trainings.
On 3rd November 2016, Faith Oneya, Everlyn Kwamboka, Mercy Njoroge, Anne Mbotela and Wanjiru Kinoti (in absentia) graduated from the WIN Kenya 2015/2016 Cohort 1. The event which also doubled up as a Media Round Table Stakeholders’ forum saw key players in the media industry participate. Among the guests were Dr. Harun Mwangi, CEO, The Media Council of Kenya, Ms.Marceline Nyambala, ED, Association of Media Women in Kenya and Ms Rosemary Okello, Programme Officer, FORD Foundation Kenya among senior editors from different media houses in Kenya.
The four who are all AMWIK Members were lauded for their participation in the program and making Kenya and their respective media houses proud. Faith Oneya emerged top among all the candidates in the WIN program for Africa.
Sharing lessons from WIN – The power of three
Faith Oneya highlighted potential opportunities for networking. Even though many see the requirements needed to participate in the WIN programme as a barrier, such an opportunity presents a platform for networking with professionals from around Africa, sharing of challenges and newsroom experience.
“It provides the Coachee with fresh eyes for learning and impacts you positively.” she noted.
In addition, women in media are encouraged not to be defined by stereotypes. Rather, come up with support groups and be professional cheerleaders where besides encouraging women, personal challenges are discussed and apt solutions gotten.
The WIN programme through peer mentoring also forms the basis for research and funding as Wanjiru Kinoti states. Take for instance the funding of the handbook; WINning Strategies: Creating Stronger News Media organizations by Increasing Gender Diversity which seeks to highlight media success stories in gender diversity.
“Women have interesting stories to tell but do not know how to tell them.” she remarks adding, “As such, peer mentorship comes in to help women in news who feel stifled and challenged to overcome such hurdles.” This is where learning from the boss and getting feedback from peers is crucial, she says noting that such learning enables the coachees to work on their weaknesses and assertiveness.
It’s not an easy road though, as Anne Mbotela concurs, “No action, no movement, no traction.”
The coachees also learnt on how to work with set goals. The Women in News being a management program revolves around time management, change management and financial management aspects thus provides a spring board for coachees to move forward in their careers but managing oneself comes first.
Ann opines that it is vital to understand basic precepts such as who should help you move forward, the expertise involved and values like being disciplined. “It’s humbling to get a coach because you admit you need help. Above all, it’s a challenging programme but worth the experience.” she concludes.
Birth of a blog
The insights and lessons learnt from the WIN programme spiraled into the creation of a blog. “Mercy Talks” blog is an idea birthed by a WINner – Mercy Njoroge. Living in an era of globalization, technological advancements and shrinking media landscape, a blog is fit as a platform to articulate and highlight women issues.