Against the backdrop of a global report confirming a gender equality gap in the traditional news media, a Nigerian politician has observed that women only make news headlines when they are victims or villains.
Ndi Kato, who is also the executive director of Dinidari Foundation, made this observation in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES.
Responding to the fact that women are not featured enough as subjects or sources of news reports, Ms Kato said journalists would rather give platforms to charlatans than report women in their elements.
She said such actions have discouraged many women from speaking when reached out to by journalists, in addition to the fact that “women are judged differently when they speak.”
“Imagine a woman doing the kinds of things the likes of Dino Melaye and Fani Kayode? Her career would have ended.”
According to Ms Kato, the media would rather quote women saying inconsequential things than quote them as sources for national issues such as politics or security.
“Women are still least likely to appear in political stories in traditional and digital news outlets,” a global media monitoring report said. “There are no more than two women for every 10 people in political stories in traditional and digital news in Africa.”
“It is a patriarchal society; we do not see women as leaders, and that is a problem,” she said.
Speaking on the availability of women for news stories, Ms Kato urged journalists and media houses to look for women in the same way they look for men who they need for their stories.
“Journalists can start by platforming women; build networks that make them accessible for your stories,” Ms Kato said.
Her claim is corroborated by the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) 2020, which notes that “in Africa, women are more likely to be seen, heard and read about in crime and violence news, next to the science/health major topic. One in three persons in African crime news is a woman although this level of visibility is common more or less to many regions.”
The GMMP notes that the capacities in which people speak or have a voice in the news, symbolise the value placed on their opinion.
What does the data say?
The GMMP 2020 report showed that there has been a slow-paced movement to fill the gender equality gap in news reports globally. It showed that between 2015 and 2020, the needle edged one point forward to 25 per cent in the proportion of subjects and sources who are women. The single point improvement is the first since 2010 and is most visible in broadcast news media.
“All things remaining equal, it will take at least further 67 years to close the average gender equality gap in traditional news media,” the report said.
According to the report, “only Africa’s media have stagnated as the rest of the regions have improved,” adding that “Africa falls below the global averages across all media types monitored.”
It added that “as subjects or the people whom the stories are about, the proportion of women has more or less stagnated in traditional mediums since 2005 when this indicator was introduced into the monitoring, from 23 percent fifteen years ago to 23 percent presently.”
Interestingly, in recent years, numerous initiatives to source women for expert opinion have sprouted around the globe, with the compilation of various directories of women experts for use by journalists.
However, media organisations are visibly making efforts to diversify their experts’ pools, pressured as well by civil society through, for example, the anti-‘Manels’ (male only panels) campaigns on social media.
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