Rumbidzayi Zinyuke, Harare Bureau
Media organisations must have zero tolerance to sexual harassment within their organisations and must cultivate safe environments that allow women to realise their dreams as journalists.
Speaking at the WAN-INFRA Women in News Alums media conference held in Harare yesterday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said sexual harassment was one of the major reasons why few women took up careers as journalists.
“As a Government, we call upon all media organisations to ensure they are zero tolerant to sexual harassment and develop sexual harassment policies that will provide procedures and guidelines to ensure nobody is made to feel unsafe within the work environment,” she said.
“You will realise that in most cases, female students on attachment are harassed to such an extent that they will not yearn for a career in the newsroom after finishing school. This has seen less and less women taking up careers as journalists. We need to cultivate a culture where a girl child lives her passion in journalism.”
Minister Mutsvangwa said a survey from Women in News published in January 2022 had aptly captured the high levels of sexual harassment incidences in the media field in one way or another.
She called on women in the industry to work together to defeat the culture that had some male journalists seeing women in terms of their sexual capabilities instead of professionalism.
WAN-IFRA’s Women in News Leadership Accelerator Programme is an intensive nine-month-long career and leadership programme open to women journalists and editors working in Africa.
Yesterday, 17 female journalists from Zimbabwe were awarded with certificates after completing the programme last year.
Journalists and editors who take part in the programme acquire new skill sets and build their capacity through a combination of Coaching, Training, Mentoring and Networking.
Minister Mutsvangwa commended the 60 Zimbabwean journalists who have gone through the programme since its inception in 2010, most of whom had gone on to take up leadership positions in their organisations.
“I would like to challenge women who have made it to the top in the newsroom; the obligation is upon you to change the narrative,” she said. “Be the ladder that the other woman below you can climb. When I say women in power, I do not mean editors only, even those that are of lower ranks, be your sister’s keeper and make sure you provide mentorship and protection to young female journalists that come into the newsrooms.
“Ensure that the newsroom is a safe place for students who come for attachments so they want to come back after school.”
The Second Republic’s Vision 2030 sought to promote gender equality and the participation of women in development processes as well as recognising women and gender mainstreaming as a critical element for the attainment of its goals.
Women In News deputy executive director and director for Africa Jane Godia said the vision was to have an industry in which men and women were equal.