MASERU- Women in the local media industry have been equipped with journalism skills as well as gender equity and safety during the upcoming elections in Lesotho scheduled for June 3 2017.
The two-day workshop which was held in Maseru last week was organized by senior journalist, Pascalinah Kabi, with the funding from the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and support of the Journalists Union of Lesotho (JUL).
While officially opening the workshop, acting chairperson of JUL, Nkoale Tšoana, said with snap elections coming in less than two months, gender equity and safety in the media need to be looked at with critical lenses and thus the training comes at the good time when it is time to prepare for the harsh world women are going to face while covering the elections.
He added that some female journalists will be expected to cover elections campaigns in hard-to-reach areas and skills that they acquire from the training would help them overcome such challenges.
Tšoana said Lesotho is among the Southern African countries with an under-representation of women in media, with just 43 percent practicing, according to a recent Southern African Gender and Media Progress Study, titled ‘Who’s News?’
He also noted that Lesotho is however, lucky, because women in this country always come to the party and give men a well-deserved competition the media industry but the fact still remains the same that they are not treated as journalists because they are female.
Tšoana mentioned that some of the challenges that women meet range from being expected to write soft news like entertainment and health or human interest stories or ‘soft’ features.
“In this country we are yet to produce a vibrant male feature writers, not because male journalists do not know how to write features but they are expected to do hard stuff like investigations,” he said.
He said that safety is one of the challenges female journalists face on a day to day basis. He also said there is much need for to make sure that women do their jobs without fear and they should also feel safe while doing their duties.
One of the female journalists who attended the workshop, Lerato Matheka, said the workshop was very important to her as she was able to get answers to some of the concerns she had which include knowing when he is being abused and what measures she could take to avoid being abused as well as knowing her rights as a female journalist.
She also said the workshop was very timely because they learnt to hear about other people’s aspirations when dealing with gender issues and for the first time they were able to deal with the same issues that affect them as female journalists.