24 February 2009

Zambia: Women Media Body Chats Agro Coverage Hurdles

Kampala — THE International Women Media Foundation (IWMF) has challenged the media to highlight the big role women play in the development of agriculture.

IWMF board member, Tom Mshindi said women in Sub Sahara Africa contributed 70 per cent to agricultural production but for a long time, the media had not brought out that fact.

Mr Mshindi who is the chief executive officer of the Daily Monitor in Uganda was speaking yesterday at the launch of the Sowing Seeds Report programme organised by the IWMF.

The launch was attended by journalist from Mali, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia.

He said that often times, the media ended at reporting policy statements, distribution of fertiliser and seed but failed to show the contribution made especially by women in the production of crops.

"Women are almost invisible in the media, even though they produce 70 per cent of the food in Sub Saharan Africa and make up half of the region's population," he said.

Mr Mshindi said it was a known fact that women were key players and hoped the training would assist the media change their approach towards reporting women in agricultural and their contribution to society.

He said IWMF was committed to improving skills for journalists so as to help them improve their skills by focusing on agriculture which is important for any country in Africa and the world as a whole.

Another board member, Ferial Haffajee who is editor-in-chief of Mail and Gardian in South Africa said the media should not just depend on reporting other areas of the economy but should bring out issues of agriculture.

In her key note speech, Ms Haffajee said there is need to highlight the role of agriculture and women for economic development and putting the issues at the top of the news agenda.

And Acting Times of Zambia deputy editor- in- chief, Mirriam Zimba said agriculture in Africa was dominated by women whose voices were muffled by patriarchal systems in most countries.

The Sowing the Seed Project is based on a three month study which monitored how the media covers the agricultural sector in Mali, Uganda and Zambia.

The project also coincides with the launch of reporting on agriculture and women in Africa, a three year IWMF initiative to enhance reporting on agriculture and women.

The study concluded that there is a profound disconnection between African media and people's lives.

The study established that only 20 per cent of farmers and other rural dwellers were covered while women stood at four per cent.

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