Standard Group has signed a partnership with UN Women to champion the gender agenda within the media industry.
The Media Compact Agreement(MCA) will see Standard Group use its various media platforms to highlight issues regarding women.
Standard Group, in October 2018, launched Standard Group Women Network (SGWN), to improve the welfare of its women employees.
The network, through its various forums, set out to improve the recruitment and career progression of women, and boost their leadership, training and mentorship.
According to UN women, 49 countries lack laws protecting women from domestic violence.
Speaking during the signing of the partnership, Standard Group PLC Chief Executive Officer Orlando Lyomu said gender equality and women empowerment is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals(SDG), but also integral to all dimensions of inclusive and sustainable development .
“Women and girls, everywhere, must have equal rights and opportunity, and be able to live free of violence and discrimination. Gender equality by 2030 requires urgent action to eliminate the many root causes of discrimination that still curtail women’s rights in private and public spheres," he said.
Lyomu said despite the gains made on gender equality and women empowerment, where more girls are now going to school, and fewer girls being forced into early marriage, more women serving in parliament and other positions of leadership, and laws being reformed to advance gender equality, there are still challenges to attaining this goal.
He said there are still discriminatory laws and social norms that remain pervasive, and women continue to be underrepresented at all levels of political and corporate leadership, while gender-based violence is still rampant.
“Media plays a pivotal role in driving gender equality and women empowerment as part of the sustainable development goals whose achievement remains important for a sustainable future for people and planet. As an influential multi-media organization, the goal of Standard Group is to create social impact and transform lives. We have used our media platforms to highlight issues around gender equality and women empowerment, through in-depth and expansive coverage,” added Lyomu.
He said the media house has highlighted legislative gaps and milestones and added that the Standard Group has also committed to improving the physical environment and facilities for women, enforcing zero tolerance to sexual harassment and promoting gender-balanced editorial coverage.
Standard Group Women Network President Queenter Mbori said the network had grand plans including, gender training for editors and reporters, access to free and exclusive content as well as Media Compact Agreement.
“The fact that we are here today to actualize the signing of MCA is testimony that both teams from Standard Group and UN Women are eager with the rest of the world; to experience equality now especially in media. Because media is a mirror of the society and a mirror of change,” said Ms Mbori.
She added: “This relationship has seen it all however, we have been consistent, persistent and determined to create a just world where women and men are given just treatment. What began as a vision when SGWN was launched in October 2018, has transformed into action and today marks the beginning of a crucial journey to advance the gender equality agenda with and through the SG PLC. The rest as they say about relationships, is history.”
UN Women Country Director Anna Mutavati applauded Standard Group for the efforts in women empowerment through SGWN and said media is key in advancing women issues.
"Media is the most pervasive and one of the most powerful tool in the modern world. It influences on how we view men and women. Woven throughout our daily lives, media insinuate their messages into our consciousness at every turn. Deep seated discriminatory norms, stereotypes and prejudice remain pervasive, thus holding back women and girls from realizing their rights. This is why we are advocating for media houses to make gender equality integral to how they operate, whether in terms of stories they produce, people they hire or skills they develop to cover gender equality," said Ms Mutavati.
The Kenyan media, she said has the potential to be an enabler of faster, more substantive gender equality and women’s empowerment, or a barrier to it.
"Gender discrimination deprives media coverage of the balance and authority that diverse perspectives bring. Together, we have to challenge and change stereotypical perceptions of femininity and masculinity," she added.
She decried the fact that the current gender landscape in Kenya is characterised by political underrepresentation of women at 23.3 per cent, a rise in violence against women as a result of the pandemic, and low levels of women empowerment (at 29 percent according to the women empowerment index).
The SGWN Patron Nicholas Siwatom and who is also Standard Group's Chief Talent Officer said the company will continue to champion a culture of diversity in the organisation