We the journalists, editors and media professionals meeting at the workshop held at the Hotel Africana in Kampala, Uganda, on 23rd _ 24th May 2014 to discuss media coverage of the crisis of violence against women in Uganda and Africa,
Recognising that violence against women and children reflects unequal power relations between women and men and is a serious violation of human rights,
Considering that free media and ethical journalism are cornerstones of democracy and underpin unified, peaceful and tolerant society,
Insisting that hate speech, which includes information condoning violence and discrimination against women and girls, should be exposed, isolated and eliminated without undermining ethical journalism and press freedom,
Noting the tendency of media on all platforms to sensationalise information and to use stereotypes and clichés which may further encourage hate speech against women and people from sexual minorities,
Believing that editorial stereotypes of women accompanied by sexist advertising material creates a distorted and wholly inaccurate image of the role of women in society,
Convinced that media and journalists are agents of change and have a crucial role to play to help change the mindset of people in society who relegate the status of women and who show prejudice against minorities
Further noting that media neglect of discrimination issues may reinforce these attitudes,
Dismayed at the Government of Uganda’s failure to enforce and implement existing laws designed to protect women from violent abuse at home,
Welcoming the expansion of internet access across Africa and recognising that there is an urgent need to promote responsible use of information online and for journalists to better understand their responsibilities in use of social media,
Further recognising the growing importance of online information in the media economy and strongly insisting that media do not sacrifice standards and ethical credibility for commercial gain,
Calling on the gender ministry and all women in media to champion the cause of gender equality on all platforms and to provide leadership in the fight for women’s rights and, in particular, calling on women in prominent media positions to support and to amplify women’s issues,
We welcome the launch of the campaign, Turning the Page of Hate Media in Africa, and call on all journalists and media leaders to practice ethical, tolerant and inclusive journalism and to promote editorial action that will expose all forms of physical and sexual violence against women, including economic, psychological and emotional abuse.
Having considered problems facing journalists and media in Uganda we urge all media professional groups – press owners, editors, journalists, broadcasters and online media – to work together in support of this campaign, and we call for an action plan covering the following recommendations:
a) Preparation of training materials and editorial guidelines by media institutions and journalism schools colleges to strengthen the understanding of people in media on the crisis of violence against women,
b) Organisation of training in key issues of gender for media managers, owners and practitioners alerting them to the dangers of increasing commercialization in the media that can compromise ethical standards,
c) Organisation of training on the role of journalists as ethical professionals and their use, as citizens, of social media.
d) Development of editorial guidelines to ensure that journalists and media shall be more accurate, responsible in reporting women issues and, particularly,
·That journalists and media put a human face on reporting the scourge of violence and discrimination against women,
·That media empower women to tell their own stories by equipping them with skills and allocation of editorial space/airtime to give women a voice,
·That journalists carry out comprehensive research on various topics related to gender and violence against women,
·That journalists who cover sensitive stories such as rape and defilement are mindful of damage they may cause to the (survivors) by use of subterfuge such as by pretending to be researchers,
·That media owners and editors support the creation of platforms that will help investigate and expose cases of violence against women,
·That media should develop internal systems to build confidence to enable female journalists to compete with their male counterparts,
Partnership with Civil Society and Gender Solidarity
e) Action to strengthen and promote strategic partnerships with key players in the fight against discrimination, gender based violence, and stereotyping involving media organizations, women CSOs both local and international,
f) Partnership between lawyers and media involving the Uganda Law Society, Association of Uganda Women Lawyers (FIDA-U) to press women lawmakers and MPs to give accountability for their responsibility as champions of women emancipation to the electorates.
g) Solidarity in journalism to strongly encourage all men working in media to support the cause of the rights of women and to promote newsroom co-operation between men and women in the fight for gender equality
Improving Working Conditions
h) Co-operation to combat corruption among Ugandan media professional associations who we urge to work together with the trade unions to lobby Parliament for regulations that will set a minimum wage for journalists and which will encourage media owners to pay a decent wage to journalists.
Special protection on human rights
i) Strengthen human rights protection through co-operation between journalists and all stakeholders,
·To recognise the need to protect the various human rights of all sections of the community and to increase awareness within journalism and society of the dangers of cultural intolerance and hate speech,
·To press media houses to provide safety training for all journalists and photo journalists when on potentially dangerous assignments and for media to work with security experts to sensitive journalist on security and safety measures. Such training must recognise the needs of women media staff who often face particular threats of bullying and harassment from police, security forces and others,
·To highlight the problem of sexual harassment especially at work places and to insist that all media provide internal systems to prohibit and eliminate this vice.
Finally, we thank the International Association of Women in Radio and Television, the Ethical Journalism Network and the Ugandan Journalists Union for the organisation of this meeting.
We urge them to broaden support for the campaign through further co-operation with media groups around Africa and to consider establishing an Africa-wide network of media groups committed to exchanging information on how to eliminate unfair discrimination and to help build a culture of African journalism and media that truly reflects gender equality
Kampala, May 24th 2014
Ethical Journalism Network: Aidan White, Director
International Association of Women in Radio and Television: Rachael Nakitare, President
Ugandan Journalists Union: Lucy Ekadu, President