By: Kemiso Wessie 

African Women in Media 2023 conference. AWiM.

Delegates at the recent annual African Women in Media (AWiM) conference adopted the Kigali Declaration on Gender Violence in and through the Media. 

The declaration calls for gender-ethical reporting, non-discriminatory coverage, as well as training and other measures to support these aims.  

Under the theme of “Media and Gender Violence,” the two-day conference drew together representatives from the media sector, academia, civil society, and industry stakeholders. Over two days, the programme included over 60 speakers, 10 panels, three talks, two fireside chats which included a sharing of experiences from Quote This Woman+, and three workshops.

                                  African Women in Media 2023 conference. AWiM.

Day 1 of the conference included discussions on: 

  • Accountability and collective action in media coverage of gender-based violence
  • Violence and other barriers against women in the media
  • Sexual harassment in the media, from awareness to action.
  • Workshop on proposal writing and reporting, and online and field safety
  • Tackling digital violence against women in and beyond media
  • GBV in film, TV and other visual media.
  • Protecting women in media and our role as female media leaders.
  • Future of reporting gender-based violence in the media.
  • Exploring the effects of online harassment and misogyny on women in media.
  • The role of the media in countering misinformation and disinformation on gender-based violence.
  • The role of gender clubs in journalism teaching universities in fighting against gender-based violence

Day 2 of the conference programme included: 

  • A plenary and workshop on media business and financial models hosted by the MacArthur Foundation
  • Panel on the challenges and opportunities in the media’s role, representation and coverage of gender-based violence.
  • Discussion on policies and strategies against gender-based violence in media organisations
  • Workshop on fact-checking hosted by FOJO
  • A panel discussion on exploring the ethical and gender-sensitive reporting of GBV in the African media space. 

The conference was concluded with the announcement of the declaration by Dr Sarah Macharia, chair of the Kigali Declaration Committee, and Hon. Valentine Uwamariya, Minister of Gender and Family Promotion. The declaration was the primary objective of AWiM23. 

                                                                                                                          African Women in Media 2023 conference. AWiM.

The declaration recognises the media’s role in moulding public perceptions and comprehension of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and seeks to commend the strides made by women in media associations and networks in instigating positive change concerning the violence encountered by women in the media sector. Key concepts include following the Maputo Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa’s definition of GBV and what constitutes discrimination against women as well as explaining gender stereotypes as unrealistic portrayals in media, and recognising intersectionality, highlighting interconnected systems of discrimination or privilege based on various aspects of identity.

Providing a comprehensive framework, the document outlines the minimum measures for stakeholders within the media industry, underscoring the need for collective commitment towards combatting gender-based violence both in media content and organisational structures. Explicitly outlining its objectives to be achieved by 2034, the declaration implores media owners, decision-makers, professionals, organisations, educators, civil society, and researchers to endorse and advocate for its principles which include: 

  1. GENDER-ETHICAL JOURNALISM: Media should commit to high-quality and human rights-based journalism on gender-based violence and on issues that drive gender violence.
  2. FAIR BALANCED AND UNBIASED REPORTING: Media portrayal and representation of survivors and victims of gender-based violence should be professional, fair, accurate, balanced, unbiased, free of gender stereotypes and respectful of their right to human dignity.
  3. NON-DISCRIMINATORY COVERAGE: Media organisations should increase ethical coverage of all forms of gender violence against all women and girls regardless of ethnicity, social-economic status, race, ability and other distinctions.
  4. POLICIES AND TRAINING: Media organisations and all industry bodies should establish and implement policies, procedures and guidelines on conduct in the newsroom and coverage of content on violence against women and girls. They should provide training to foster meaningful implementation and monitoring of the guidelines.
  5. TAKE ACTION: Media organisations, associations, unions and journalism training institutions should condemn, address and combat sexual harassment and other forms of violence against women and girls in the physical and online workplace.

The full text of the delaration is available here. You can also sign the declaration here.