9 May 2016

Africa: Graça Machel Trust Launches a Pan African Women's Media Network

press release

Johannesburg — The Graça Machel Trust announces the launch of a Women in Media Network (WIMN), which aims to change the way media portrays African women and children.

Recognising the crucial role that media plays in shaping societal attitudes, the Graça Machel Trust has established a Pan African network of women journalists to place Africa's women and children at the centre of transformation within the media landscape. The WIMN will drive coordinated messaging and build awareness on issues related to health, education, and women's economic empowerment that impact women and children.

"We need to give more space in media for women to tell their own stories in their own way and to include the views expressed by the children of Africa. I hope that by establishing this network we will motivate other media houses to more equally reflect the 'Faces and Voices' of women and children in media. There is a fundamental need to grow generations of children and young people who can affirm and assert a brighter and more positive future for themselves," says Graça Machel, Founder of the Graça Machel Trust.

In forming this Network, the Trust undertook research in Central, Southern and East Africa, as well as parts of West Africa, to identify the potential women in media candidates, but also the recognised leaders and influential voices in Africa's media landscape. A group of highly respected media owners, editors and publishers including global health and education advocates was invited to become Advisory Board members of the WIMN. The Board members will in their individual and collective capacity help the Trust to build up the network and champion a movement that collectively develops and disseminates empowering messaging and storylines about Africa's women and children.

WIMN advisory board

The Board members are: South Africa's CNBCA Editor-in-Chief Bronwyn Nielsen; Zimbabwe's CEO of AB Communications, Susan Makore. Editor-at-large of IRIN, Obina Anyadike based in Kenya; Editor- in-Chief of the Nation Group - East Africa, Tom Mshindi; Editor-in-Chief of South Africa's City Press, Ferial Haffajee; Executive Editor of allAfrica.com, John Allen, based in Cape Town; Health editor of South Africa's Mail & Guardian, Mia Malan; Director of the Panos Institute in West Africa, Diana Senghor; Director General of Fraternité Matin in Cote d'Ivoire, Dr. Venance Konan; Director of International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity Chief of Staff and UN Special Envoy on Global Education, Justin van Fleet who will advise on global education related issues and advising on educational issues will be Lars Grøsenth, Senior Advisor on Communication and Advocacy in the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD).

At the inaugural meeting of the Advisory Board held March this year, CNBCA Editor-in-Chief Bronwyn Nielsen and Zimbabwe's CEO of AB Communications, Susan Makore were elected co-chairs.

The Trust has identified women journalists who are considered to be media influencers in their own right and enjoy a large social and traditional media footprint and legacy in their respective countries and media spaces. WIMN will create an inter-generational platform to allow young talented female journalists to participate and work alongside our continents more seasoned The WIMN will comprise an initial group of about 30 to 40 women journalists, bloggers and influencers.

The launch of this Network is contribution by the Trust to drive the agenda to change the current narrative of women and children in Africa.

WIMN Board co-chair, Mrs. Susan Makore is convinced that: "Women and children's issues have tended to make headlines more as victims that are helpless, abused and exploited yet women and children have over time been capable of so much more, having overcome many obstacles and excelled in many sectors of the economy and society. The amazing stories need to find more expression in our media. Therefore, I hope to do my part in ensuring that key stories that highlight and celebrate the various facets of children and women's activities across all sectors are given prominence in the media by working with my colleagues that run media houses, especially in Zimbabwe where I hail from."

Speaking on her role as co-chair of the Advisory Board, Bronwyn Nielsen says, "I feel extremely honoured to accept the position of co-chair, of the Advisory Board alongside Susan Makore, to the Graça Machel Trust Women in Media Network. Africa's youth and female dividends are at the core of the continent's future and with the right support it is in fact the women and children who can positively impact our tomorrow from an economic growth and development perspective. I look forward to working with my fellow board members and all the members of this privileged network to jointly leverage our circles of influence under the esteemed guidance of Mrs. Machel to drive this agenda deep across the continent with both speed and passion. Together we can create a new narrative when it comes to Africa's women and children."

Makore adds, "I am also extremely excited to be the inaugural co-chair of the Advisory Board with Bronwyn Nielsen. "I feel extremely honoured and privileged to be selected as one of only a handful of people from the whole of Africa to be part of the inaugural Women in Media Network of the Graca Machel Trust expected to put women and children's issues top of mind in the media."

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AllAfrica's executive editor is a member of the Women in Media Network advisory board. AllAfrica will be a global distribution platform for content produced by the network and will act as liaison to promote publication of the content across Africa through AllAfrica's network of over 100 media organizations.

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