Media industry faulted over women harassment and discrimination

The Government in conjunction with the Media Council of Kenya is hosting this year’s annual media summit at the Hotel Inter-Continental, Nairobi.

The two-day forum has brought together journalists, media stakeholders, senior Government officials and diplomats, and will culminate in the Annual Journalist of the Year awards tonight.

During yesterday’s sessions, the forum discussed the portrayal of women in the media and the status of female journalists in newsrooms.

Panelists called for an end to gender discrimination, sexual harassment, threats and intimidation that were blamed for frustrating female journalists in East Africa, and for more in-depth coverage of women issues.

Women issues

The forum, which brought together hundreds of participants painted a grim picture of what female journalists face inside newsrooms as they struggle to climb up the professional ladder and leave a mark in the field.

Panelists discussed boosting of career progression for female journalists and took issue with the portrayal of women in media as victims.

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Canada High Commissioner Lisa Stadlbauer, the session’s moderator, expressed concern with coverage of women issues by the media.

“As an outsider and purely as an observer, women issues are only given prominence when they are portrayed as victims or involved in scandals,” she said.

Devise systems

Ms Stadlbauer challenged the media industry to devise systems that allow women to advance in journalism careers.

“Women journalists do not get the opportunity to handle challenging new topics like politics, business and sports. Instead they are only assigned soft stories,” she said.

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights official George Morara termed the challenges women in the media faced human rights issues.

He said more women in the media faced cyberbullying than their male counterparts.

“The higher the women presence online, the higher the probability of facing technology-assisted violence,” he warned.

Dr Nancy Booker of Aga Khan University said media training structures in universities should be reviewed to address challenges women experience in newsrooms.

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