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Every story is a gender story, journalists told

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Journalists from various media houses in Kenya went through training on gender and election reporting. The training held by Gender Media Network (GEMNET) Foundation at a Nairobi hotel sought to sensitise reporters and editors on the need for gender balance in reporting.

MCK’s Victor Bwire during the session. PHOTO/Gemnet

This is especially critical at a time when the country is gearing up for a General Election in 10 months’ time.
The Media Council of Kenya (MCK)’s Director for Media Training and Development Victor Bwire underscored the need for such trainings, saying: “Some of our correspondents are form four graduates. They have never sat in a journalism class. These trainings help these journalists to have a better perspective in the field.”

Bwire also said that Kenyan journalists generally need refresher training on all matters journalism: ranging from gender to ethics.

Hypothetical situations
Trainers presented the journalists with a series of hypothetical situations and asked them to decipher gender representation in such scenarios; an exercise that yielded interesting results.

In here presentation, Pauline Akolo, the communication specialist with UNEP and independent expert in gender mainstreaming said presented a series of hypothetical situations and asked journalists to decipher genders represented in a scene; an exercise that yielded interesting results.

Quoting a 2020 Women in News media research on gender balance in content, Pauline said, “Just one in five of voices in the articles is female. The authors are generally men and stories don’t seem complete unless male sources have the final word.”

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Gender biased
Many participants confirmed that they are gender biased, including those who believed hitherto that they were specifically reporters keen on gender issues.

“The presentations jolted me to the realisation that many of us exhibit – unknowingly – gender bias in how we report news,” said Gardy Chacha, a reporter with The Standard Media Group.

Gender Editor Dorcas Odumbe emphasises a point during the training. PHOTO/Gemnet

Dorcas Odumbe, the Gender Editor at Nation Media group, said that “every story is a gender story”.
She explained: “Our society is made up of men and women. But journalists more often than not interview men only. We have a responsibility as journalists to always interview both men and women.

“If you want to interview economists, get both male and female economists. That way, you will find different perspectives of the subject that enrich the story.

“Always ask yourself: ‘Can women too contribute their voice to this story?’”

At the end of the training, the journalists said there was need for more training for better identification of gender nuances.

Participants at the training gender balance in content training. PHOTO/Gemnet

At the same time, the organisers and participants agreed that there was need for continued sensitisation on gender balance in content. They said that this will strengthen balanced sourcing of stories and gender nuanced reports across media platforms.

The training was actualised through a collaboration between and Wan-Ifra Women in News and GEMNET.

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