Journalism knows no gender: Read what Lango female Journalists say

Last Updated on: 28th September 2022, 07:48 pm

“The media work is so demanding and it takes courage for a lady to settle in the media space,” Peace Bridget Apio, a journalist working with Voice of Lango FM.

By Doreen Acipa

Lira – Sept. 28, 2022: Nearly all female journalists in Uganda have faced it rough at their various places of work in regards to their gender. They have also externally been marginalised and stigmatised by ‘their sources’ and male colleagues. 

In this special report, TND News Correspondent for Lango sub-region, Doreen Acipa writes that “for long it has been a big rift and a confusing situation” for many but despite all these, “there is hope for equality.”

She spoke to Sarah Ejang and others. Ejang who is an editor and a station supervisor at Kyoga FM, Amolatar town say since 2017 her journey in the media has been full of sacrifices.

“In my newsroom, we have 9 males and 4 ladies, this makes us feel really bad,” Ejang says, further sharing her encounter in the newsroom. Before giving birth in 2019, she told me that she was denied maternity leave until the last day she gave birth.

Life was never the same for her after giving birth and enduring a non-paid leave for 3 months.

“This all did not make me quit because I thought of the future of my baby because, at the end of the day, I need to put food on the table and also my mates kept on pushing for my payment until I got some halves during the leave,” she recalls.

Ejang, being the only female journalist in the entire district, said it has been a bad experience in the field where most people doubt her a lot. But she has stood her ground to challenge the limit.

For a swift change to happen in most newsrooms, she recommended that amidst all challenges, no female journalist should ever be under looked and editors should change their mindsets on only assigning males to do “strong stories”.

“Look, beyond gender, the change I hope to see in the media houses is media owners trusting ladies with power,” she recommends. Listen to more here.

All these challenges have made most female journalists remain junior because they feel like they cannot do better. Charity Akullu, a correspondent with Daily Monitor for Lango sub-region says because of the segregation and trauma she has gone through in the newsroom, she considers herself a junior journalist because that’s the name she is given by her male counterparts in power since 2018.

 “Whenever I pitch a strong story, they are either reassigned to a man or when I go ahead to do it, my editor shares my byline with him, this is very frustrating.”

 “Almost all my stories when you look at them, you find I am sharing a byline with my editor,” Akullu added.

Female journalists like Akullu are calling upon media bodies like Uganda Journalists Association (UJA) and Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to come out and regulate media managers to start catering for the welfare of journalists.

Christine Awor, a national Correspondent at TND News recommends that female journalists shouldn’t look at themselves as children of the lesser God and weaker sex because if they do this, it will always give people grounds to frustrate them.

According to Awor, the above notion is the only strategy that kept her excelling in her 2 years of active journalism.

“Do not underlook yourself, assign yourselves bigger tasks, if you are challenged to do anything, sit in front of that big machine and operate it, show them that nothing distracts a woman and no one will frustrate you. Ever since I mastered the art of equality, no one ever frustrated me again,” Awor shared her experience.

“Journalism knows no gender,” says Nancy Atim, a journalist at Radio QFM and a writer at Lango Women Media Association. She decries unequal treatment and payment of female journalists in the newsrooms.

“You find a female has the same qualifications as the male counterparts, the males are paid higher and in the field, even a source tends to intimidate you either through sexual harassment or threats,” Atim said.

But despite all these, Atim believes that Journalism knows no gender and recommends capacity building for journalists and belonging to a social network which she tells me has empowered her throughout her duties.

Meanwhile, Immaculate Amony, the Bureau Chief for Uganda Radio Network (URN) for Lango sub-region based in Lira City, most of her challenges in the media space have come from the male journalists who think she is not supposed to be where she is.

Amony, like her female colleagues, has managed to challenge males with her work and prove to them that being a woman does not make them [her] any less of a good Journalist than the male journalists.

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“Media is male-dominated and you being a lady in the media space is something that people don’t think you are qualified or good enough for. So, people look down on me and a few male journalists think that I am not supposed to be where I am simply because I am a woman but I have managed to challenge them through my work when given the opportunity. I explain to them and help them to understand that being a woman does not stop me from being a journalist.”

Take a listen to more from Amony by clicking here

Peace Bridget Apio, a journalist working with Voice of Lango FM (VOL) said the media work is so demanding and it takes courage for a lady to settle in the media space.

“I was intimidated and harassed sexually but when I reported it to the management I came out of it. When we were called for the disciplinary, I got justice,” Apio shares and you can watch her by clicking here.

 Pledges for support

Sarah Awor Angweri is the female workers’ representative to Lira City Council. Awor pledges to support female journalists in their work because there’s no specific job for a specific sex.

“I pledge to always advocate for the rights of female journalists because as female workers, there are some sensitive matters that need only female journalists for us to confide in and share with them because we feel they understand us best when we tell them, so these women are very vital in our society and I Pledge maximum support.”

 Wendo Boniface Odongo, the Station Manager of Radio Shine in Oyam district, pledges to create an equal voice in the media space.

Odongo says the only empowerment that will help female journalists to stand firm is digital empowerment because it is only through this that women can bypass a lot of barriers like cyberbullying, threats and sexual harassment.

Also, Edmon Ongwen, an administrator at Radio QFM says it was denoted right from the Book of Genesis that men cannot do everything alone. “And I would really quote all the acts and statues talking about uploading women in the system.”

Ongwen says it is very important to have women in the media space and “a lot of people are inspired when they listen to voices of women compared to men”.

He says there must be women in every organization and that they must be given an opportunity to take up a managerial position, telling the community not to discriminate or take advantage of women’s “yes” for sex.

“Women are different but what a man can do, a woman can do better and you would not tell how impactful a woman would be to the souls that are out there especially when it comes back to the media.”

John Bosco Okello Okello, the chairperson of Lango Radio Owners Association, an umbrella that brings together all the media proprietors in the Lango sub-region, said that women are now playing a very tremendous role.

Increasingly, he adds that ladies are excelling in various media sectors and claims that the public loves more female ladies in media in all aspects.

He encourages ladies to keep coming into the media space. Okello also advocates for proper training to perfect them with ethics.

“We should stop distinguishing violent behaviour against the media personality,” Okello Okello said.

He urges the public to allow women to participate and to appreciate and express concern if women are not ‘brought enough’ in the media space. 

 Okello is also the proprietor of Dokolo FM in Dokolo town. “Ladies who become mothers in space must have a way to balance the profession with other things like their family demands.”

At UMCAT Journalism School’s branch located in Lira City, the enrollment of male to female journalists is unbalanced with ladies taking 40% of the current learners, according to Joseph Egonyo, the regional coordinator.

Egonyo says most female journalists tend to either drop out along the way or they are financially constrained or have a phobia.

 “The only thing I can recommend is the total motivation of these female journalists and supporting them to upgrade academically to take bigger roles at work.”

 “It is a beautiful thing when a lady is doing something extraordinary like presenting and anchoring the news, it pulls more listeners, and media owners should master this art.”

 Willy Omodo-Omodo, the Awitong of Pedi Wii-Bye Acel says there is women emancipation or women’s movement, adding we need women in media as well.

 “The number of female journalists should be equal to the number of males in the industry because the society is complex and therefore needs equal sex in the media space,” according to Omodo.

 Omodo has pledged to fight for equal representation from both sex, especially in the media world and advised the community to stop underlooking women while treating them as the second option in every field, further urging parents to prioritize educating both children.

 James Robert Ajal, the prime minister of Lango Cultural Foundation also challenged ladies in the media to be assertive and able to say what they want to say clearly for them to be understood.

Ajal also urges ladies to take the journalism profession seriously, also encouraging parents to see the value of journalism in ladies or their daughters.

“I have seen institutions, where ladies have worked very well compared to men and ladies, should not be seen as a material for marriage only but as someone capable of producing results,” Ajal said.

Click here to listen.

Mzee Charles Okeng, a resident of Okwang sub-county in Otuke district said most parents do not want their girls to join the media because they think they are going to get spoiled or wasted while living a useless and indecent life as has been happening in the past.

He, however, added that some parents just do not want their daughters to join the media because it is a very risky profession for females sometimes. “In other words, they are so protective because of the love they have for their girls, because of the suffering that female journalists go through in the field where there is war,” Okeng said.

He also said that almost all the parents want their daughters to get married at some point regardless of their level of education and maybe the job, but added that many parents think that cannot happen if their girls join the media space.

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