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Gender sensitive reporting under spotlight

20 Jun, 2024
…as Sonke partners MISA to enhance media coverage on LGBTQI+ and GBV issues

By Maleshoane Ratsebe

Sonke Gender Justice, in collaboration with MISA Lesotho, has held a two-day capacity-building workshop on gender sensitive reporting for 16 journalists at ‘Melesi lodge in Thaba-Bosiu last month.

Sonke Gender Justice is a non profit organization that advocates and promotes a democratic expression of relations for people of all sexual orientations.

Through their project named ‘Khutlo’, Sonke aims to sensitize the media on three key issues, namely; promote gender sensitive reporting, improve knowledge around the LGBTQI+ community and improve media advocacy on gender equality as well as human rights.

According to Dr Mosiuoa Ramakoele (pictured), it is vital to equip the media with appropriate skill to ignite and lead conversation on gender issues on different media platforms.

Dr Ramakoele is a passionate Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Advisor at Sonke Gender Justice. He emphasised, during the workshop, the importance of appropriate use of language and its impact in forming public opinion – a component he said was the gist of the media training.

In his opening remarks, the MISA Lesotho national director, Lekhetho Makhanya Ntsukunyane, reiterated the importance of reporting on gender-based violence (GBV) and gender related issues in general.

The issue of GBV was a widespread concern for Lesotho,according to Ntsukunyane: “Even at MISA Lesotho, we are highly concerned. We have reported cases against some female journalists who face harassment at workplace. Our female counterparts in the media sector are harassed by their male bosses and their male sources of information in the field”.

Ntsukunyane further pointed out as a concern that the LGBTQI+ community issues do not receive enough media coverage due to, among others, individual media outlets’ internal editorial policies.

These internal editorial policies, Ntsukunyane said, while they were developed as control mechanisms to distinctify newsrooms’ house styles, “some of these polices have, however, become a limitation to coverage of the LGBTQI+ community issues, among others.”

“In some cases, the policies are not necessarily penned down in black and white, they are just adopted house styles which you could just sense during the everyday operations of different media houses, particularly the radio stations,” said Ntsukunyane.

Some of these media coverage limitations were linked and camouflaged under religion, he added.

He has appealed to the participating journalists to lead from the front in opening dialogues on gender issues that are sometimes tabooed unnecessarily by the media houses.

Apart from Sonke, other facilitators of the training workshop were drawn from the Lesotho Mounted Police Services’ Gender and Child Protection Unit, as well as from The People’s Matrix.

About MISA

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) was founded in 1992. Its work focuses on promoting, and advocating for, the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and a free, independent, diverse and pluralistic media.

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