By Mariam Namakula
There has been a deliberate reduction in the number of female journalist in Uganda due to the continuous challenges that female journalists face in their day today life.
According to Dr. Emily Maracho the Vice President of Uganda Media Women Association UMWA many conditions need to change in journalism if female journalists are to stay in the newsroom room.
Addressing female journalist at Maama FM during the International Women’s Day commemorations, Dr. Emily said there was need for female journalist to have a responsive way of handling work if they were to face their challenges in media
Dr. Emily said female journalist needed to understand their roles and this was to help them understand the challenges in media and how to handle them.
“Do we know our roles? Do we appreciate them or we only see ourselves us mothers and natures that help others achieve their dreams,” Dr. Emily said.
Gender only becomes an issue when the one doing it knows when they’re doing it, a she added.
Dr. Emily noted that as far as media is concerned women deal with a lot of challenges including those of representation, some sort of misrepresentation, underrepresentation, stereotypes, culture and often society looks at those women who break these barriers as women with abnormalities.
However, Dr. Emily noted that the only way to change the trend was to directly deal with these challenges and that women should start looking for opportunities in such challenges so as to build their careers.
“The challenges are real, so we have to deal with them and find ways we to over turn them into opportunities so that we motivate ourselves to move on,” she said.
Dr. Emily added that for challenges like the stereotypes, female journalists needed to stop limiting themselves to the newsroom, embrace the use of technology and this will help them bypass the traditional ways of doing journalism.
“At first we would urge that editors were not giving female journalists platform but today’s technology has provided an opportunity to bypass some traditional ways of doing journalism, said,” Dr. Emily.
She added that even when it comes to interactive programs men are always the ones sending their views therefore the failure of interaction can never be linked to the technology but rather some other issues.
DR. Emily noted that while women were short with power the few that had the power were doing little with it and therefore women needed to engage more in that leadership position and be part of the decision makers if their voice was to be heard a thing that was still lacking in the media fraternity.
“You have the ideas, power and experience to acquire any position it’s not abnormal for a woman to excel in life,” she said.
In addition Dr. Emily urged that women to stop looking for opinions and stories from only female experts since they are still few in those positions but rather focus on the local sources that have good stories as well.
Dr. Emily under the umbrella organization UWMA also noted that female journalists should avail themselves with legal knowledge and seek more help organizations like UWMA, FIDA among others that fight women’s right.
She noted that whereas there’s still a gap in implementation due to nature of the economy and other factors, the Uganda constitution was very deliberate about the women laws and that perpetrators could be held accountable.
“You can call the law on anyone who violets your rights, our constitution is one of the most progressive when it comes to women matters it carries affirmative actions on gender policies and also holds that international obligation. These are good opportunities for us to utilize,” dr. said.
In the changing media world and many women working at home, Dr. Emily noted that women needed to adopt to self-learning, this would empower them with skills while using the small resources that are provided by their bosses to work at home and this would eventually boost their confidence and increase their value at work.
Dr. Emily was however grateful that the narrative of women not achieving to a certain level was starting to change, she accorded this to the increased awareness and advocacy when it comes to gender.
she said that, there is some acknowledgement for the women efforts, at first media reproduced what that culture presented including the role that women are supposed to play and if women played a different role it became a problem but now that culture is starting to shift.
She also added that the argument of not having enough female role models and mentors shouldn’t be sustained and that the media had to deal with that perception as soon as possible. When women are mentored they should mentor others.
“It’s not true that they’re few role models that women can look up to, you just have to identify them and find them yourself,” l have mentored a lot of young men so can they mentor young women as well. Dr. Emily said.
Dr. Emily noted that if women were to move on they had to gain some bargaining powers when it comes to the issues to determine salary, join media organizations to provide needed help , have personal responsibility, mentor each other, read about inspiring stories and most importantly convince themselves about their strength.
Angella Asiimwe, CEO Voice Consultants Ltd and a human rights lawyer also noted that women in media had to look for alternative but legal ways to gain their economic independence as the irony had led to many challenges including increased cases of sexual harassment.
“Women should not only focus on their media assignments, they should engage in other side businesses which would enable them earn an extra income and improve on their way of living,” she said.
Dr. Emily was one of the key note speakers under the theme Promoting The Women’s/ Social Justice In The New Normal World with the objective of providing a platform for interaction and networking, increase knowledge on the social justice agenda among female journalists for them to appreciate their role in promote it and identifying challenges faced by female journalists in line of duty and how to overcome them. Present was the UMWA ED Maama Magret, Angella Asiimwe CEO Voice Consultant Ltd other members of UMWA and the press.