Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf), with support from Hivos Southern Africa, conducted a media training on women’s participation in leadership in Lusaka on 11 and 12 April that brought together print and electronic media practitioners from across Zambia.
The training is part of the Women Empowered for Leadership Programe which PSAf is implementing for Hivos in Zambia. The initiative is motivated by the reality that the media play a critical role in the construction of public belief and attitudes, thereby formulating public opinions on various issues.
Due to the power of the media in influencing public opinion, negative media coverage of women negatively influences public opinion about women, their profile and capabilities, thereby undermining their opportunity to equal participation in leadership and other productive spaces. For the media to effectively play this role, they need to be equipped with the right skills and expertise to enable them to produce content that would stimulate debate and influence positive attitudes.
In efforts to champion women’s empowerment and participation in leadership, the impact of negative media coverage of women should not be ignored. When the media churns out negative narratives about women, the public forms negative attitudes towards them, questions their credibility and eventually denies them an opportunity to advance.
The media training aimed at sensitising the media on the harms of negative coverage, raising their awareness on the values of women’s participation in leadership, and exploring ways in which the media can positively contribute to promoting women’s participation in leadership positions.
In addition, the training encouraged participants to proactively positively profile women leaders as well as engage journalists in the coverage of the WE4L initiative in Zambia.
PSAf will support interested journalists to produce in-depth content on women’s empowerment and participation in leadership positions.
The ultimate outcome of the training and the fellowships will be media outputs positively profiling women leaders, increased coverage of the work of Hivos WE4L partners, and increased positive reporting that promotes women’s participation in leadership.
Hivos Southern Africa is currently implementing the Women Empowered for Leadership (WE4L) programme aimed at supporting women’s participation in politics and public administration and within civil society. The five-year programme aims for women to have equal opportunities and the capacity to fully participate in political and societal decision-making processes.