Resolve to grow the organization, AMWIK Chairperson urges Committee Members


By Ebagwa Caroline Musimbi
AMWIK Chairperson Dr. Dorothy Njoroge has encouraged members to strengthen their resolve to grow the organization.
“When we grow AMWIK, you grow yourself,” Dr Njoroge said at the opening of the AMWIK membership Committee organized by the association in partnership with Media Council of Kenya. She pointed out that the organization was graced by great minds, skills and experience that can bring out brilliant ideas and plans, implementing them remained their biggest challenge This, she attributed to the patriarchal systems that had denied women opportunities to grow.

Dr. Dorothy Njoroge addressing AMWIK committee members


The training sought to help members in committees chart the way forward by understanding in depth the history of AMWIK, empower them to showcase their potential, work collectively and maximize every opportunity, trigger the need for self-awareness and wellness; and from there draw out solutions and strategies from which AMWIK can help solve problems and provide value to its constituents.
At the same time, Rose Lukalo, a Media and Communication Consultant and one time Chairperson of AMWIK gave a historical review of AMWIK. She reminded members that AMWIK remains a force to reckon with. She noted that the organization needed to grow beyond the national boundaries.

Rose Lukalo during the training


Rose called on members to stop overlooking their ability to think big saying “think of the bigger picture and the smaller ones will automatically be solved”. She spoke of good governance, working diligently, its importance and being strategic. “AMWIK ought to be consensus driven with members being team players, co-active, committed, informed, resourceful, inclusive and transparent”. “We as members need to train and utilize the digital space to make AMWIK as great as it is destined to be because the future is digital,” she added.
AMWIK Executive Director, Marceline Nyambala who urged members to use membership Committee to showcase their potential and owning the organization saying, “It is in such forums that we get the opportunity to showcase our potential and authentic self, this can result in lifetime partnerships”

Mr. Otieno Ombok engaging members in the training


Otieno Ombok, an organization development urged members to have control over the association adding that it as an ideology and a positive conspiracy where the rights of women in public spaces and media will be guarded. The training is one of the ways AMWIK engages its members in not only capacity building in various skills but engaging members in activities and strategies that can strengthen the association and members skills which they can utilize elsewhere.

The Power of Media: Using Radio as a catalyst to end child marriages in Kilifi


By Light Juma, AMWIK


“Each time Kilifi County is mentioned in the media, it is either associated with high cases of Gender Based Violence or negative politics. We need to change this narrative as the civil society movement, media and the county government of Kilifi”- Kilifi Gender County Secretary during the launch of Women on the Move against GBV in Kilifi.
This statement might not be far from the truth. A research conducted by Plan International in 2012 puts child marriage in Kilifi at 47 per cent, one of the highest reports of child pregnancy leading to school dropout in the County.

Benard Ogoi, AMWIK staff demonstrates to students and teachers of Kibokoni Primary School how to use the radio


Poverty has been linked to early marriages, where young girls become easy targets of sexual violence, and/or in a bid to escape the harsh realities, young girls find themselves pregnant and are forced to marry and/or parents/guardians give off their children for bride price. This is why the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK) with support from Mundo Cooperante is implementing the Right to be A Girl Project in Kilifi County that aims to impact on the reduction of child marriages through community media, social media and art.


AMWIK using its flagship radio listening concept is empowering both girls and boys on their role in ending child marriages in Kilifi County. Over 400 students in four primary schools including Kibokoni, St. Andrews, Majivuni and Upweoni began listening to the Wajibika radio drama series. The audio drama documents the life of a young girl in the Coastal area who is struggling to go to school and must fight intentions from her father and the society to marry her off to keep her in school.

Students at St. Andrews Primary School in Malindi participate in a radio listening session.


AMWIK trained eight teachers from the participating schools in August 2019 who will throughout the project act as moderators for the listening sessions. Through a partnership with the local administration, Corporal Marian Hussein, a police officer in charge of the gender desk at the Malindi Police Station, trained the participants on the Standard Operating Procedures on Prevention and Response to Sexual Violence. The teachers were informed of their roles especially as key stakeholders in reporting cases of early marriages involving students in their schools. They were also taken through the court proceedings and prosecution of sexual violence cases by Victor Alunga of the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions in Kilifi County.

Mr. Victor of ODPP takes the teachers through the court proceedings of cases involving child marriages


The teachers were then introduced to the use of the radio listening concept and trained on how to operate the radios, conduct the listening sessions and generate discussion points from the drama series. They were also briefed in detail about the project activities and work plan, which include the drama series listened to and discussed through school based radio listening sessions, and essay competitions for students participating in the project.


The pupils and the administration received the programs with enthusiasm and excitement. Mr. Benard Kalu, the head-teacher from Majivuni Primary School attended one of the listening sessions in his school and appreciated that the program would empower students on a topic seldom discussed by parents. “From the feedback we are getting, the programs are really useful and educational for the students and we are really appreciative”, remarked Mr. Athman Kofa, the head-teacher of Upweoni Primary School.

Local Media Journalists —the community’s source of information
AMWIK’s mission is to use the media to promote an informed and gender responsive society in Kenya and Africa. It was therefore imperative for us to engage the local media in Kilifi County to further advocate for the abandonment of child marriages through well researched stories and encouraging follow up of cases highlighted in the media.


AMWIK trained nine community journalists on the role of media in educating the public of the dangers of early child marriages and its effects on the girls, families and the community as well. The journalists were taken through topics that included; an overview of Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), media coverage with a focus on cases of teenage pregnancies, child marriages, rape and defilement cases and other SRHR.


The journalists had a chance to introspect and ask themselves how the media in the region has played a role in highlighting these issues to the public. At the end of the training, most of the journalists pledged to play a more active role in covering child marriages by being more thorough in their reporting and ensuring follow up stories of the cases to ensure justice is served to the victims.


“I have learnt that media has a vital role to play on issues of girl child marriages and that as a journalist, I have to be part of the solution and not the problem”, remarked Liz Atieno from Radio Jahazi.


AMWIK is set to run this project for a year. The radio listening sessions will run from September to November 2019. After the listening sessions, AMWIK will engage the students in an essay and drama competition to test their understanding of the topic and award the top three winners from each of the participating schools.

Misinformation: Catalyst to Silence Women’s Voices?

by Rose Nyaga and Yvonne Mwende

Misinformation is being weaponized against women, a public forum by the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK) in collaboration with UNESCO and Heinrich Boll heard.

The public forum held on May 14, 2019 at Alliance Française deliberated on the issue of misinformation as a catalyst to silence women’s voices and how it affects women journalists and elections in the future.

AMWIK Chairperson Dr. Dorothy Njoroge, Assistant professor at United States International University (USIU) pointed out that fake news has been escalated by technology. “Women are not online as much as men. For this reason, they end up passive in their role of sharing the correct information”, she added.

The panelists were: Dr. Dorothy Njoroge, Chairperson, Association of Media women in Kenya (AMWIK); Dr. Jane Thuo, Lecturer, School of Journalism, University of Nairobi; Victor Bwire, Head of Media development and strategy, Media Council of Kenya (MCK); and Mwanaisha Chidzuga, News Anchor at K24 TV; moderated by Akisa Wandera, News Anchor/Reporter, Kenya Television Network (KTN).  The forum brought together over 120 participants spanning from journalists, human rights defenders, gender activists and students from different universities.

AMWIK Executive Director, Marceline Nyambala, commenced the forum with research findings saying that fifty-seven percent women were the main subjects of fake news especially during the 2017/2018 general elections. “We are looking forward to scale the project due to its implication of 2022 elections,” she added.

Marceline Nyambala, Executive Director at AMWIK

Fake news is any false information that is deliberately meant to be wholly or largely false or misleading, spread through online social media, but occasionally finding its way to mainstream traditional print and broadcast news media.

The evening forum sought to define fake news; explain the need to identify fake news; look at the effects of fake news on gender equality; the role of fake news in stifling democracy; and the public’s responsibility in addressing the culture of fake news. It was geared towards addressing the culture of fake news in Kenya through research, factsheets and stakeholders.

The participants called on mainstream media to sustain responsibility of presenting factual information, with one participant pointing out, “What will distinguish us and social media is our credibility and reliability. We can only pick up the story, research, look for facts, so that we can maintain the trust our audiences have with us,” Judy Kaberia, Africa Check.

. It was noted that fake news mostly affects women in media and politics. Swahili News reporter and anchor, Mwanaisha Chidzuga pointed out that women in politics suffer the most during election campaigns as they are scandalized and demeaned. “The media fails to cover what the women leaders bring to the table and instead focus on who she slept with”.  She asked for women to support each other and provide platforms for those in politics to sell their agenda. Fake news has drastically interfered with democracy. We will not be talking about fair coverage if Kenya was democratic.  Misinformation and defamation is against the law, and action should be taken against the ones breaking it.  “You cannot talk about democracy when women are not given fair chance to share their ideas,” Ms. Chidzuga pointed out.  It was agreed that the media needs to be fair in terms of coverage. Rules and laws must apply to both male and female.

Mwanaisha Chidzuga, female journalist sharing her experience on fake news

Victor Bwire called on journalists to make use of the laws to break off the spread of fake news. He urged them to register as practicing journalists with Media Council of Kenya. “You must be a registered practicing journalist if at all Media Council is to protect you,” he ascertained.

Students were urged to do more research on fake news in preparation for a factual, accurate and trustworthy media. “Let us encourage students to do more research on fake news,” Dr. Jane Thuo proposed.

False information is often sensational, dishonest and out rightly fabricated. The panelists called on the public to be vigilant and not spread fake information by doing due diligence through considering the source, reading beyond the headline, asking if it is a joke, checking if other stories from the source are incredulous and to be wary of stories that rely on anonymous sources among other checks.

A study by GeoPoll and Portland, The Reality of Fake News in Kenya indicated that during Kenya’s 2017 general elections, the public accessed false or inaccurate news, and that some regarded this news as being deliberately misleading or fake news. The report clearly notes that false and inaccurate news is part of life in Kenya, particularly surrounding elections, and notes that this is likely to increase as social media continues to act as a key source of information.

AMWIK with the support of UNESCO published Factsheets on Fake News for Journalists and the Public.

AMWIK IN 2018

2018 has been a great yet challenging year for us at AMWIK. On behalf of Secretariat and Board we want to thank you for choosing to journey with us as we close the year. We wish to share with you a few highlights of what we have been able to achieve in 2018:

AMWIK members during the Malkia Bazaar held at Milimani Primary School in December 2018

AMWIK Membership

As a membership organization we are proud of our growing diversity in skills, background, experience, knowledge and age that have added to the uniqueness and strength of AMWIK. We have noted that the number of our PhDs have been growing steadily, the latest being Dr. Ann Mungai – Congratulations! Thank you all for being part of AMWIK and making it what it is today. We introduced our membership card which was a resolution adopted in 2017 and many of us managed to pick theirs.

Over 138 members benefited from over nine trainings organized by AMWIK and its partners. The trainings ranged from digital security for women, training on transparency and social accountability and business entrepreneurship.


Through the Publicity committee headed by Faith Oneya we were able to gain knowledge from the comforts of our homes and for some offices through Four engaging Whatsapp chats held in year featuring Mental Health and Unhealth by Prof. Catherine Gachutha; Digital Security and Privacy by Philip Ogola; Health and fitness by Dr. Esther Dindi and How to develop a Sustainable savings plan by Felista Wangari. Members have also benefitted from the Whatapp group sharing information, jobs, consultancies, mobilizing participation, networking and contacts and often times just cheering and appreciating one of us who has attained a milestone; a baby, a new job, a degree to mention but a few.

AMWIK Membership activities

Membership Meetings and AGM

Through the membership meeting: Transitioning Right training gave birth to our first ever AMWIK Malkia Bazaar spearheaded by Lorna Sempele, Grace Muiruri and Winnie Kungania. Being the first dry run with its lessons and challenges certainly there is a lot of room for improvement. A number of members participated as exhibitors/or visitors.

This was a great milestone for AMWIK and presents an opportunity to upscale the event into a bigger venture where many of us,
family and friends can participate and grow their businesses, market ideas, launch products or advertise their universities for students. We will look to you for your support and ideas to make the 2nd Bazaar a greater success.

During the AGM it was agreed to develop the Business arm of AMWIK to complement reliance on donor funding which the Board is actively pursuing; AMWIK would look into publishing academic journals; and improving members’ welfare amongst other ideas.

What Can Being involved in AMWIK do for you?

You never know what immersing yourself in AMWIK activities can do for you. Be it getting a recommendation letter for a conference or job, a letter can open doors for you. Over 20 recommendation letters were written for members seeking various opportunities in 2018; jobs , fellowships, travel to international conferences with several of them being successful in their bid.  Amongst those who have made successful bids with the help of AMWIK include KBC Journalist Lourdes Walusala, a current Chevening Scholar at the University of Sussex.

Lourdes Walusala, AMWIK member with British High Commissioner to Kenya, Nic Hailey during the Chevening Awards Ceremony at his residence this year

“Dear AMWIK Secretariat, I hope you are keeping well. I wish to joyfully notify the secretariat that I have been awarded a full scholarship through the Chevening scholarship scheme to study M.A Media Practice for Development and Social Change at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom. My course will commence this September. This is an opportunity I am so excited about and look forward to. I take this opportunity to thank AMWIK for making this possible. Being a member and participating in various activities and opportunities within AMWIK gave me content that enabled me to submit a strong application and confidence to support my application at the interview. Chevening is the UK Government’s international awards scheme aimed at developing global leaders and it is funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and partner organisations. Lourdes wrote.”

Lourdes Walusala, Chevening Scholar 2018-2019

Lourdes is also a Sister Sister fellow on digital security and has previously taken the initiative to organize online safety training for fellow members in partnership with AMWIK.

AMWIK Members as Consultants

Over 10 members were able to gain consultancies with AMWIK and other partners offering their skills and knowledge as trainers, researchers and facilitators in various meetings. A few members have taken the opportunity seek resources in partnership with AMWIK and earn a portion; these include Dr Jane Thuo, Tabitha Onyinge, Lourdes Walusala and Maria Powerson.

Congratulations to them for throwing their hats in the ring. This is open to all members to leverage their network next year, for yourself, the organization and possibly another member.

Standing With our Own

This year also saw the spirit of sisterhood and unity rise among members. We sadly lost one of our own members, Wanjiru Kinoti (pictured). May her soul rest in peace.

Several members lost their loved ones. Our Vice Chair Christine Nguku only having buried her mother last week. Despite of the prevailing recession members demonstrated solidarity in encouraging and contributing to the various needs for members. We were able to raise about Shs. 80,000 collectively for all our six members who had various welfare needs. A number of us have sent money directly to them. We thank all who gave generously towards the various welfare needs that we shared with you throughout 2018. And even if you were unable to give, your presence and kind words remain encouraging.

Jane Frances Angalia is undergoing treatment right now in India and we encourage you to keep praying for her.

We also continue to seek opportunities for strengthening our Kisumu and Mombasa branches having held several trainings in the regions.

AMWIK Programs and Grants

On a programmatic level, AMWIK was able to secure grants tackling different issues in society and we were able to achieve the following:

• Over 42 citizen journalists and community media journalists benefitted from the “Engaging citizen & community media journalists in the production and dissemination of financial accountability and social justice content” project by Community Media Fund and are being coached to produce content on financial literacy, financial accountability, social justice and Transparency

• Enhancing digital literacy for women in media and human rights defenders with Deutsche Welle where we provided capacity to over 40 women journalists and human rights defenders in Kisumu and Mombasa Counties
• Exploring the impact of Fake News on Women In Politics and Media with UNESCO –where we are finalizing the research and developing fact sheets that will act as a resource tool for both journalists and the public.

AMWIK has also been engaged and invited to several local, national and international meetings. Our Executive Director Marceline Nyambala was able to present a paper jointly at the Commission on the Status of Women(CSW) earlier in the year amongst other meetings.

Thank you for 2018. Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!

AMWIK Malkia Bazaar

AMWIK’s first ever  inaugural Bazaar is here with us.


The Malkia Bazaar scheduled for Saturday, 1st- Sunday, 2nd December 2018 will be at Milimani Primary School in Nairobi. This is an exciting event which is a market place for products and ideas. The aim is to benefit business women/people, universities, nonprofits including AMWIK members to boost their income streams, enhance their business networking and be empowered as women in business.  There is also an opportunity for social marketing organizations and awareness creating organizations to participate to engage the buyers and visitors.

This will be a two day fun filled event and the gates will be open to all at 10.00 am! It is a family affair so there will be exciting opportunities for the entire family. It’s not too late to be part of it.

Corporate companies are welcome to reserve the booths for the two day BAZAAR and increase their company awareness at a cost of only Kshs. 70,000 for the two days while business women can book their stand for Kshs. 8,000 for both days.

If you are a business woman, please go ahead and book your table at this exciting event that will serve as a platform to put your business on the map.

Entry is free for all. For inquiries, reach out to us on info@amwik.org. See the poster for details.

Call for Fact Sheet Development Consultant on Fake News

AMWIK is seeking to engage a consultant who will help develop a fact sheet on fake news. The factsheet will be a key resource tool for journalists but also the public who have also become a major consumer of fake news.

How to Apply:

If interested, please download the Terms of Reference- Fake News Fact Sheet Development and submit your detailed application documents and CV in PDF format stating your consultancy fee.

NB: Deadline extended to Monday, 8th October 2018. Apply by sending an email to info@amwik.org indicating the subject of the email as ‘’Fake News Factsheet””. Please note that only shortlisted applicants will be contacted.

Bridging the digital gender divide for women in Kenya

The Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK) is among the four Kenyan organizations implementing the project ‘Enhancing digital literacy and safety for women in Kenya.’
Supported by the Deutsche Welle Akademie, under the Women@Web East Africa project, it seeks to empower over 80 women academics, politicians, journalists and human rights defenders in Kenya with digital literacy and online safety skills.

The project comes in the backdrop of increased cases of Technology Assisted Violence Against Women (TAVAW) in the East Africa region. According to AMWIK’s Online safety for women journalists’ survey 2017, cyber-bullying, trolling, defamation, sexual harassment and identity theft have emerged as key digital threats facing women journalists in Kenya today.

AMWIK has developed a keen interest in addressing online violence against women journalists since 2015. The organization continues to play an integral role in documenting digital threats facing media women.

Key issues that project beneficiaries are set to learn include how to detect digital risks and mechanisms for mitigating the threats as they engage online.

Other grantees in Kenya include Article 19, Siasa Place and KICTANet. The DW Akademie is also supporting other grantees in Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda through the Women@Web East Africa. These include Acacia Book Café in Rwanda, Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), Defenders Protection Initiative (DPI), Not Your Body (NYB), Chapter Four and Unwanted Witness all in Uganda, and Women@Web Tanzania.

AMWIK AT USIU RECRUITMENT DRIVE TO HARNESS MILLENNIAL POTENTIAL

By Lynn Atieno and Light Juma (AMWIK)

The Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK) was amongst the organizations that participated in the United States International University Africa (USIU-A) career fair held from 24th-27th July 2018 at the university’s grounds off Thika Road.

Students at the USIU stand during the recruitment drive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AMWIK together with other organizations such as L’Oreal East Africa, Kenya Commercial Bank, Intercontinental Hotel, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Global among others saw students turn up in large numbers to their respective tents on the second day of the Career Day held on Wednesday, 25th of July.The career fair’s theme which was “Harnessing Millennial Potential” gave both students and organizations the platform to address opportunities, challenges and career paths that students can delve into as well offer professional advice on key decisions that students can make to thrust them into the opportunities available. The role of the organizations was to offer advice to the vast and diverse population of USIU students on the career paths and opportunities that lie in for them in the job market.

AMWIK Staff engaging a USIU student during the University’s Career Fair

 

AMWIK’s team led by Programmes Officer, Light Juma who is also a USIU alumnus together with AMWIK member, Laura Nayere, Film maker and Lynn Atieno, an AMWIK intern gave compelling pitches encouraging journalism/communication students to embrace joining AMWIK as part of growing their network and increasing their knowledge and experience in the field.

A male student engaging AMWIK representative on how men can also engage in AMWIK activities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Groups of three to five students arrived at AMWIK’s booth, keen to find out more about what the association does and what benefits they could acquire by signing up as members. Students who visited the booth varied in terms of the courses they are currently undertaking, from Journalism to International Relations. The team took them through the benefits of joining AMWIK which include internship opportunities, networking and mentorship by professionals among others whilst creating awareness on AMWIK’s vision of advocating for the enjoyment of women’s rights.

AMWIK also included a special offer to USIU students which was to join the association by paying a membership fee of Kshs. 1, 000 – valid for this particular event, contrary to the annual amount of Kshs.1, 500. The day turned out as a success as we achieved our goal and got over twenty students to sign up, while at the same time driving AMWIK’s agenda home.

 

Photos Courtesy of Angaza Films.

AMWIK Calls for a more collaborative concerted efforts to address online violence against women journalists

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most women journalists are attacked online due to their physical appearance, material possessions, their professionalism and their personal relationships.

This is according to studies by the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK) collaborated with World Association of Christian Communicators (WACC) titled Coverage on Online Violence against Women journalists: A Media monitoring report on dominant topics .

Despite the internet offering great solutions and innovations to how people access information, including journalists, online violence has been on the rise especially against women journalists but remains a silent epidemic in Kenya. The expansion of the technological sector has increasingly made the online environment for women particularly journalists hostile.

It is against this background that AMWIK collaborated with World Association of Christian Communicators (WACC) to interrogate further the current trends of online violence against women journalists through an updated baseline survey.

The other study is Online Safety for Women Journalists: An update of the survey on women journalists in Kenya affirms that women journalists because of their public profession and as public figures become easy targets of online violence.  The updated baseline survey which looked at various case studies on women journalists including columnists, broadcast journalists and social media managers found out that online violence took the form of trolling, cyber stalking, online harassment, insults, sex and death threats among others.

The survey showed that women journalists are vulnerable to online violence because of their prominence in the public sphere and that they face unique challenges in being on the online space because of their gender.

The media monitoring report looked at how online violence against women journalists is covered in mainstream and online media. The report found out that majority of the news items featured these prominent women in a negative light citing their personal life more than their professionalism as journalists.  Other stories were about their physical appearance, material possessions and their personal relationships as main topics of discussion.

The report found that prominence attributed to women journalists is not necessarily due to their professional prowess but other factors such as appearance, possessions, character and personality related attributes. Questions of how women journalists acquire their wealth, possessions and achieve their success were often put to question and attributed to relationships with men.

These forms of attacks usually are carried out anonymously though in some cases, attackers had made themselves known to the journalists before launching their attacks.

The survey highlighted several ways of dealing with online violence for different women journalists where some turned the attacks round to their advantage, dealing with the attackers online and exposing the perpetrators online other than the usual withdrawal from the online space due to malicious attacks.

The publication highlighted the role of media houses in supporting the women journalists who are employees by limiting the level of audience engagement and deleting abusive posts targeting one of their employees while also creating an environment conducive for women journalists to report online attacks to their employers.

Some of the recommendations include providing women journalists with personal security training so that they can be aware of the risks of the internet as well as women journalists acting as agents of bringing down/de-emphasizing the glorification of social evils, warlike activities, ethnic, racial or religious hostilities on online platforms among other recommendations.

Women journalists should receive training on professional branding to de-emphasizing their personal appearance and emphasize their professional life were one of the recommendations from the media monitoring report.

The need to form a social media consortium of women journalists to empower women in general to change the narrative of online violence and speak out against online attackers was also recommended.

 

The two reports are accessible online:

Coverage on Online Violence against Women Journalists: A Media Monitoring report on dominant topics

Online Safety for Women Journalists: An update of the survey on women journalists in Kenya

Digital and Online Security for Women Journalists- A WACC Project

The Internet is essential for journalists for news distribution, interaction with audiences and sources for news as well as a pivotal resource for researching on stories. Despite its significance, the Internet has also been used as an avenue for attacks against journalists, not only because of their journalistic work, but often because of their gender. Technology Assisted Violence against Women (TAVAW) exists within a context similar to what happens offline.

In May 2016 during the World Press Freedom Day, AMWIK in partnership with Article 19 and the support of Deutsche Welle Akademie launched a Women Journalist’s Digital Security survey. You can access the survey here. The survey gives an in depth view of online security issues which women journalists face in their line of duty. According to the survey, approximately 7 out of 10 female journalists in Kenya have experienced online harassment in the course of their work. The research also looked at existing mechanisms to protect women from the risks they face, as well as gaps, which prevent the administration of justice against online perpetrators. The survey recommends investment in social, legal and practical tools which media practitioners, particularly women can use to protect themselves from online bullying.

In a bid to raise awareness on the situation of online violence against women journalists in Kenya, and increase their skills and knowledge in tackling online harassment, AMWIK in partnership with the World Association of Christian Communicators (WACC) implemented a grant titled ‘Raising Awareness on online violence against women through media’ in 2017. The initiative is supported by funds from Waldensian Church’s Otto per Mille (OPM).

The grant set out to generate evidence through research to inform media and policy advocacy and legal reforms to include online safety for women, capacity build journalists and social media managers in news rooms by enhancing their knowledge and skills on online safety and phone security for women. It also sought to sensitize the public on online violence against women through social media campaigns.

 

Updated Survey on Online Violence against women journalists

In the project, AMWIK conducted a research that sought to build on findings of the previous survey and generate evidence on new trends of online violence against women in Kenya, the policy gaps in internet security against journalists, and whether the proposed cyber security laws such as the Cyber Security and Protection Bill, 2016 have provisions aimed at safeguarding women’s participation in the digital environment. The 2017 updated research revealed that the number of journalists being attacked online is steadily increasing. It specifically showed that women journalists “are targeted for being women, for being journalists and sometimes, for being women journalists.”  The study used case studies in Kenya as part of the collected data on online violence against women. Notable forms of online violence identified included online content that took the form of hash tags, photos, memes and video edited graphics to show nude characters. It also highlighted that women on the screens bear trolls, and online abuse usually uncalled for.

 

A sample of one of the case studies in the updated survey of online violence against women journalists

The survey also looked at the policy gaps that exist in addressing online and mobile phone safety threats for women. In its findings, the rights of women are protected in the Constitution of Kenya 2010, statutes and subsidiary legislations, policy documents, common law, judicial precedents and International Instruments ratified by Kenya.

Further, the draft Kenya ICT policy 2016 notes that cyber security has become a national priority that calls for the articulation of new and integrated and comprehensive strategies for addressing it. Kenya’s Cyber Security Strategy and the National ICT Master Plan 2014-2018 also identify cyber security as a national priority, but does not address online violence against women. Despite these policies, the report by AMWIK indicates that the policy and legal framework is still weak in how it attempts to deal with online or technology related offences committed against women.

Whereas some of the existing laws can be used to punish some of these offences, the challenge remains that a host of the new cyber offences will not be prosecutable. There are also gaps in capacity of law enforcement to effectively coordinate responses, investigate, collect evidence and prosecute these new offences.

AMWIK further disseminated these report findings as part of information sharing to ensure women journalists and their male counterparts as well as media houses, government officials and the public are aware of the dangers facing women engaging online. A media dissemination forum held on 1st August 2017 brought together 41 participants who included both male and female journalists, social media managers and communication lecturers in Kenyan universities to discuss findings of the baseline survey carried out in April 2017. The forum also sought to have participants particularly journalists share their own experiences of online violence and how they dealt with it.

Journalists trained on digital safety practises

In the WACC project, AMWIK also conducted training for journalists in Kisumu and Mombasa Counties respectively. The two two-day trainings sought to sensitize journalists on online violence against women. Using key findings from AMWIK’s updated baseline survey on online violence against women, the trainings sought to give journalists key online/digital security tips that they need to keep in mind and adapt as they engage online. A total of 22 participants, mostly female journalists from the two regions attended the trainings.

Participants during a group discussion in one of the AMWIK training on digital security for women journalists

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a result of the two trainings, all the 22 journalists reported increased awareness of the online security threats they faced. They indicated that going forward, they would be cautious especially on issues they posted on social media. They also said they would be more mindful of their surrounding and prioritize issues like creating a strong password to beef up their online safety. Notably, they considered training other journalists on how to protect themselves while working on the internet.

Media Monitoring Report on media coverage of online violence against women journalists

The project also carried out media monitoring of online coverage of technology assisted violence against women journalists in both mainstream and online media channels. The report explored the nature, type and context in which women journalists find themselves as targets of online violence in Kenya. The research similarly sought to establish the type of coverage and make recommendations to inform future patterns of media coverage of online violence against women journalists.

Report findings showed that majority of female journalists receive a high percentage of negative reports than positive, citing their personal relationships, appearance and dressing and their acquisition of property as main topics leading to their coverage.  A few reports depicted the female journalists in a positive light and attributed the coverage to their prowess in the journalism profession. There was little mention of online violence in mainstream media channels making the reporting only done on online platforms.

The media monitoring report researcher presenting findings to key stakeholders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The report gave importance to the need for frequent sensitisation programmes to orient women who work in the media on private versus public life to help them avoid displays of public ridicule. It further recommended training women journalists on how to keep a more prominent professional presence in their media work and their involvement as social influencers to empower women – highlight narratives about entrepreneurship, professionalism; successful social statuses among others.

Media Dissemination Forums

AMWIK further organized media dissemination forums to share both the updated survey and media monitoring report findings with journalists, social media managers and other key players in the media industry. AMWIK held three dissemination forums in Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa. The three dissemination forums acted as forums in which AMWIK was able to share their key findings with stakeholders who are involved in the process which included women journalists, social media managers and editors. The forums enabled AMWIK to capture real time feedback from the stakeholders which enriched the project and ultimately the media monitoring report later on conducted during the project. The forums also acted as forums for male journalists to pledge their support in fighting against online violence against their female counterparts

Way Forward

There is need for women journalists and social media managers to be rigorously trained on digital security tools to further equip them to fight against online harassment. Key to this is also the sensitization for female journalists on how to conduct themselves professionally in the online space. AMWIK hopes to use the data collected in the two WACC reports to further generate concrete evidence for the intervention of government and policy makers to create legal frameworks to report, prosecute and convict perpetrators of online violence against women journalists.