Gilbert Motshaathebe, a South Africa based communication expert and gender activist, believes female journalists are often sidelined as there seems to be a thinking that journalism is a profession reserved for men.
He has done extensive research on gender, journalism education and practice and the findings indicate that women in media across the continent face similar prejudices.
“This should not be left to continue any longer. For media to serve its intended purpose, information cannot continue to only be conveyed from a male perspective,” he said.
Newsrooms, film production crews as well as radio and television casts are all male dominated, which means that media tells stories to the public from a predominantly male point of view. Motsaathebe believes that since media is the main source of information, people end up seeing the world through male eyes, which propels male dominance through life in general.
“In as far as the social, political and economic milieu of the production of films is concerned, women face problems relating to funding and an array of other challenges simply because they are women,” he said.
While plenty of women looking for money to fund their media projects are not really listened to, the same cannot be said for men because they almost always get funding for their projects.
“A man puts the same concept on the table and immediately he gets support from other men who relate better to the way he sells the idea because it is from one man to another,” said Motsaathebe.
He further maintains that women have long been oppressed and silenced by males who design communication to suit their patriarchal role in society. The Southern African media industry for instance has over the years turned into a place where some ideas, issues, debates and matters of styles are often dismissed by editors and executive producers who are male; while many of the views objected or rejected are from women colleagues.
“Ultimately the views of women in the stories told in the media are unaccounted for,” he said.
With an increase in independent women productions, Motsaathebe believes female producers should explore themes that have always been neglected in the mainstream and treat or frame them the way they see fit without having to worry about male gate keepers.
“Therefore the prospect to operate outside the confines of the male predisposed media gives women a platform to express themselves,” he said.
Motsaathebe said exploring productions by women in the SADC region for example would document an emerging form of cultural production that may offer women a new voice to effect social change and articulate their ingenuity, experiences, frustrations or aspirations.
“It is crucial that women’s productions be examined from a feminist perspective by Africans themselves. Most of the work focused on feminist media in Africa has often been done by researchers operating outside the continent and this really needs to change,” he said.
Women in the media also face multiple oppression in society, such that the need for feminist literature that paints a consistent picture revealing that women have generally been misrepresented or presented stereotypically cannot be overemphasized.
“The complaints about sex objectification of women, male gaze and voyeurism across the continent are overwhelming, and all this has a negative impact on the productivity of women in the media in general,” he said.