The Association of Media Women in Kenya ( AMWIK) in partnership with Search for Common Ground (SFCG) convened a conference on 13th March 2014 at the Desmond Tutu Centre.
The Conference titled “Media: a Voice for All” brought together five Media Women’s Association from the great lakes comprising The Association des Femmes Journalistes (AFJO) in Burundi; The Union Congolaise des Femmes des Médias (UCOFEM) in the DRCongo;The Association Rwandaise des Femmes des Médias (ARFEM) in Rwanda ;The Association des Femmes Professionnelles de la Communication (AFPC) in the Central African Republic; and the Groupe des Journalistes pour la Paix (GJP) in the Republic of Congo.
The conference was part of an exchange visit funded by the United States Department to strengthen the capacity of the five media women associations by sharing and exchanging their experience with AMWIK members and create networking opportunities with a view to potentially expand the newly founded Regional Network of Women Media Professionals in the Great Lakes (RFMGL).
The exchange brought leading professionals from Kenya’s print, TV, and radio media as well as women working in the communication industry into discussion with their Great Lakes colleagues about successes and continuing obstacles for women working in this dynamic, challenging sector.
With over 30 years of existence and dedication to women in the media, AMWIK shared its experience and innovative efforts in promoting increased women’s participation in the media. The examples shared offered inspiration to the visiting Great Lakes journalists, who were particularly impressed by AMWIK’s:
- Gender and Governance program, which aims at helping women politicians use media effectively to share their programs and achievements;
- Exchange Program, which provides opportunities for their journalist members to access an international experience within another association in Africa, Asia or Europe.
- Scholarship Program, which collects funding to support AMWIK members to enroll in relevant trainings and courses.
- Savings and Credit Co-operative Program (SACCO), which enables members to access loans at reasonable rates of interest.
Participants also took this opportunity to exchange around barriers, opportunities and emerging issues in relation to women’s inclusion in the media. While key achievements with regard to the evolution of women’s participation in the media over the past 20 years were celebrated, remaining common challenges were highlighted, namely:
- The continuing low representation of women in editorial and managerial positions within media houses, which continue to be male-dominated;
- The poor retention of women journalists within media houses, as they are seldom offered stable contracts and find it difficult to combine the long work hours with their family responsibilities;
- The challenges for women to remain competitive in the media digitization process due to the high costs that this technology entails;
- The low coverage of women’s perspectives and issues in the media across the region, as women remain shy to express themselves in public.
The five Great Lakes associations introduced the regional network that they had formed to increase their advocacy power and visibility, known as the Regional Network of Women Media Professionals in the Great Lakes (RFMGL), and AMWIK was invited to join the initiative.