The Second Lady, Mrs Samira Bawumia says the media must make a deliberate and sustained effort to make issues affecting women a critical part of their programming while highlighting the achievements whenever possible.
That, she said was to help empower women as the media was vital to shaping the woman narrative.
Mrs Bawumia said this when she opened this year’s West Africa Media Excellence Conference and Awards (WAMECA) themed “Media and Women Empowerment in Africa” in Accra yesterday.
WAMECA was organised by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), with support from the United States Embassy, Ghana, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Stanbic Bank, Hewlett Foundation and the Canal France International (CFI) Media Development.
Mrs Bawumia said it had been estimated that it would take 67 years to close the average gender equality gap in traditional news media.
“This means for our continent where there is relative stagnation, deliberate, sustainable, and urgent action must be taken if we are to achieve parity in the shortest possible time,” she added.
Mrs Bawumia said there were several factors including socio-cultural that inhibited women’s participation in the media, “and we should collectively seek solutions to them.
Not many women can endure the insults, sexism, and some stereotypical news angles customised for only female newsmakers.”
She urged women to take up positions of influence including serving in public office in order to help shape policy and “influence decisions that affect us.”
“Let us also be deliberate about looking out for talented young women who have the potential to rise to the top. Let us serve as their mentors and provide them with encouragement in order to achieve their dreams,” she added.
Mrs Bawumia used the opportunity to congratulate MFWA for the initiative and for being a distinctive voice and a relentless champion of press freedom for the past 25 years.
Ms ZoéTitus, Chairperson, Global Forum for Media Development, appealed to female public policy makers and parliamentarians to make themselves accessible to the media.
“When the media reports on the struggles and successes of a woman, in any field, then other women learn from this coverage. It’s like a road map for them to follow,” Clara Matimo, Tanzanian Journalist, she quoted.
Ms Titus further appealed to journalists and media developmental organisations to lead the way in order to ensure women participation in strengthening democracy by ensuring their voices were heard in the media,“both in terms of coverage and representation of the issues that are close to their hearts.
Executive Director, MFWA, Sulemana Braimah, said change on the continent was unattainable if we continued to shut the door to women and failed to have their voices, ideas and power in the rebuilding efforts.
“Changing the dynamic to empower women begins with amplifying the voices of women. We need to let the views and ideas of women be heard, acknowledged and known by all,” he stated.
“And we need to create fair and equitable opportunities for women to compete and succeed on the basis of the superiority of their views and ideas,” he added.
BY ABIGAIL ARTHUR