By Sierra Ruth Arinaitwe
The Uganda Media Women’s Association (UMWA) has recognized and awarded female journalists for their outstanding efforts and contributions towards shaping the country’s media industry.
The journalists’ efforts were awarded under various categories such as; ladies who have contributed to the industry through academia, leadership, research and management; mentorship and coaching, breaking barriers such as reporting during the war zone, resilience among others.
The UMWA Executive Director Margaret Ssentamu said that there is need to celebrate female journalists who have had exceptional contributions to the male predominated industry. She further stated that women in the media industry have come a long way and deserve to be recognized hence the awards will be held annually.
These awards were given out at the Women and Media Symposium 2023 held at the Imperial Royale Hotel under the theme Her story; Self, Health and Wealth. The symposium brought together various women in media who undertook to discuss issues affecting them and their work in the industry.
Among the issues tackled included; visibility of the women in media, online gender-based violence, building resilience, safety and security while using in the digital space, living beyond the pay cheque among others.
While giving her welcoming remarks, the Board Chair UMWA Dr. Patricia Litho urged the women in the media to not only empower fellow women but also partner with the male counterparts to bring about the change needed in the industry.
“The issues we complain about are relational, so instead of isolating women and trying to transform them alone, we need to speak the same language with the men on issues such as fair treatment, equity, sharing spaces,” she said.
Bonita Nyamwire, the co-director research department at Pollicy Uganda revealed that female journalists face online harassment in many aspects such as trolling, gendered misinformation, defamation, stalking among others.
“Our recent research on the safety of women, in particular women in media indicates that women are four times more likely to experience online violence than their male counterparts. This has hindered their use of the digital space which further shrinks their scope of expression as journalists on a number of matters,” Nyamwire said adding that digital illiteracy among women hinders women empowerment.
She recommended that Government should come up with policies and legislation to encounter and fight against online gender-based violence against women.
Living beyond the pay cheque
Dr. Aisha Biyinkiza, a project director at PSFU and chairperson of council of the Directorate of Industrial training urged women in media to learn how to live beyond the pay cheque instead of lamenting about earning low income from their profession.
“Journalists are among the underpaid professions; however, you are the wealthiest people if you embrace mindset change. As journalists who provide coverage to business stories, you have access to information about upcoming grants, entrepreneurship and skilling opportunities,” she said.
Biyinkiza advised journalists to take up these opportunities to expand their income base. “Take interest in other income generating opportunities. For example, use your weekends to start up mentorship classes for young people interested in joining the media industry,” she said.
She further urged them to make use of their news sources/ contacts to get connected to opportunities and conduct business as well as using their social media platforms as a marketing space in order to supplement their income as opposed to only depending on the monthly salaries.