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Half Baked Stories Partly to Blame for Gender Insensitivity in the Media-UMWA Boss Margaret Sentamu

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Margaret B Sentamu, the Executive Director of the Uganda Media Women Association (UMWA) has pointed out half-baked stories as one of the leading causes of gender Insensitivity in the media.

Sentamu said that the “normalized” rush by journalists to publish stories without doing enough research has at the end of the day left several voices “, especially for women” unquoted.

Women have on several occasions been underreported in the media and even those that are reported, are portrayed negatively.

An independent study that was conducted by UMWA in 2020 about elections showed that women were still under-represented in the media.

Gender Media Monitoring, the study indicated that out of the 2001 politicians who featured in Uganda’s five major print media houses between April and September 2020, 519 (26%) were women, compared to their male counterparts who made up the biggest number 1,482 (74%).

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The report further indicated a 5% increase in the coverage given to females as compared to the 21% female (79% male) in 2019 and a 6% increase since 2016 where women’s coverage stood at 20% compared to their male counterparts who were at 80%.

A similar study dubbed: the Gender Media Landscape in Africa conducted by the Horn of Africa Youth Network (HOAYN) in 2021 indicated that the ratio of Ugandan female newsmakers to their male counterparts is 1:3 (75%).

It further revealed that men appeared more in political, defense, and economic stories while women mostly appeared in social interest stories. 

Further, a majority (28%) of the newsmakers quoted were men (Direct 41%; indirect 37%) while only 22% were women (Direct-133, Indirect 9%. 

“However, outside the news, reporting category women were the sources of a higher number of profile articles, and in the case of the state-run newspaper, more women were sourced for profiles compared to men (66,7%) female sources versus only 13,3%),” the Report released in Nairobi Kenya reads in part.

Speaking to journalists during the media training last week, Sentamu wondered why journalists have continued to sideline women, especially in Gender sensitive stories.

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“We all feel marginalized when unfairly treated but the power to change lives is in the media and the media is you, Journalists, do your research well, get facts and package your stories… with that definitely  you will change the society,” she said

This was during the two-day training on Gender Sensitive Reporting that was conducted at UMWA Headquarters in Kampala.

Sentamu cautioned journalists to be careful and deliberate, recognizant, and to always make an extra effort in reaching out to people.

“Published stories should also be responsive, sensitive and they should also bring everyone on board so that they be of a great purpose,” she said 

This two-series training ran between Tuesday and Friday, and Journalists from various Kampala-based media houses including; electronic, online, and print were equipped with skills in gender sensitive Journalism that can help them perfect their stories and also to well prepare them while presenting.

Sentamu noted that one of the core basics of this training is to illustrate the power that Journalists hold in society and how they can well use their power to change lives.

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Journalists were also trained that Justice, fairness, and a sense of equality between men and women are key in a gender-sensitive story and they were also given a gender-sensitive media scorecard that contained aspects like the breadth and depth of coverage, story angles, content visuals, and placement amongst others.

Journalists in both sessions were also sensitized about Gender and related laws ranging from those at a national level, regional level, and also at international level.

The two sessions were attended by Journalists from Next Media, Nation Media, Galaxy FM, BTM TV, Mama FM, Radio Sapientia, Red pepper, and the DaParrot website among others.

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