UMWA Executive DIrector Margaret Ssentamu during the launch of Mission 2025Research findings by Uganda National Commission for UNESCO reveals that globally, more than 70percent of female journalists report being violated both online and offline. Although experts are still under a comprehensive study to come to establishment of how big the case is in Uganda, the same also prevails.
It’s upon that basis that Women in media under their umbrella body Uganda Media Women’s Association (UMWA) have launched a strategic mission dubbed ‘Mission 2025’ where they intend to effectively curb injustices against the female gender within the media fraternity both in the newsroom and the field.
The mission 2025 which is to thrive under the title: we are removing the monster from Uganda’s media; safety and security threats and attacks against female journalists is a collective effort in support of government and different development partners headed by Uganda National Commission for UNESCO.
Speaking at the doubled event of UMWA World press freedom day celebrations and launch of the mission at Hotel
Africana on Thursday, UMWA Executive Director Margret Ssentamu, said that majority of women in media face uncountable and continuous challenges while executing their duties which range from security brutality, inadequate safety, limited follow-up over their concerns and sexual harassment both in the newsrooms and places they go to for information.
“Young or old, all female journalists have a story to tell in regards to sexual harassment as it’s manifested in different forms, we are at times beaten, intimidated among others and if one is not strong enough, they end up giving out their dignity,” she said.
“We are trying to find ways of eliminating such atrocities from our media in Uganda through the mission 2025,”she added.
Ssentamu noted that UMWA identified the major problems faced by female journalists and possible solutions; however, these shall be implemented with joint efforts from other partners including the government
“We call upon the public to join us in Mission 2025, because despite not having a comparative study on sexual harassment, safety and security attacks against women journalists, all the follow-ups indicate that many female journalists have gone through such,” she said.
“Our physical appearance makes us vulnerable, we can’t run faster like men, men take us for granted and our daily ways of lives makes us handle our issues politely and slowly,” she added.
Speaking to journalists at the sidelines of the function, Dr Emily Comfort Maractho, the Deputy Chairperson UMWA said that they are hoping to persuade media regulators and various stake holders to ensure that there is an enabling working environment for female journalists
“As UMWA, we recognize that women are more likely to suffer from insecurities and risks associated with threats against journalisms. We want to work with all stake holders to enable the creation of that enabling environment,” she said.
She further noted that under the mission 2025, they (UMWA) ought to engage media houses to open space for the women so that they are not only recipients of news but also part of those that create the news.
“It’s about very many things not only about physical security but also online Security of journalists, having appropriate policies, editorial policies that give female journalists an opportunity to do their work professionally,” she said.
Officiating and speaking to journalists before launching the mission, Minister of ICT and National Guidance Judith Nabakooba urged female journalists to unite and stand firm towards fighting for their rights
“It’s through unity that we can have complete recommendations to all these challenges that have led many young ladies to shunning their profession,” she said.
Irrespective of amplifying voices of the common man a job done so well by the media, Nabakooba urged female journalists to be lead amplifiers of their own voices other than sitting back waiting for authorities to fight over issues they don’t raise.
“We for example rarely get complaints from the media council yet it was put in place by government for you and it’s through these channels that government can respond appropriately with practical solutions on what is transpiring,” she said.
The minister also urged media owners to put up policies that can protect female journalists citing that by having them in place, the female journalists would feel more safe and secure to be at work.
She noted that government has and will continue putting in place favorable and strong policies that are meant to protect women, including female journalists for the betterment of their careers.
“These kinds of reflections are important, as government we are glad to participate towards this goal and thank you UMWA for the continued commitment towards sharpening media,” she said.
Rosie Agoi, the Uganda National Commission for UNESCO Secretary General said that the end to all increasing irregularities faced by female journalists must be a collective effort. She urged media owners and other stake holders to come up with collective efforts in achieving the mission goal.
“When a female journalist is attacked, she is not the only one who suffers. Everyone’s freedom of expression and access to information suffers too. To tackle this increasing trend, we need to find collective solutions to protect women journalists from violence,” she said.
The UMWA world press freedom day was celebrated under the theme “In defense of information as a public good: does the safety of frontline workers matter? What are the gender implications?