By Edinah Masanga
As an advocate for women being heard, I find myself between a rock and hard place sometimes. Because, I want more women’s voices and women themselves in the media, but I don’t want them presented as a piece of meat or showing them in violent images as a manoeuvre to sell news and not as a human rights issue.
It is funny because advocacy for the objective portrayal of women has been going on for some time now but the problem is still here if not getting worse.
In this age of social media and individual content generation, we need to curate real and truthful women’s stories now more than ever.
Because the profit-driven media has bombarded us with stereotypical images of women. And citizen journalists have taken the stick and run wild with it. We are constantly told how beautiful women should look as opposed to all women are beautiful. We are created differently and there is beauty in that diversity.
Technology has brought with it new challenges for media activists like myself. There are two things when it comes to women and the media: (1) women don’t usually get featured as experts or analysts because of course there are men in positions of power and influence and therefore qualified by position to comment as experts, (2) when women get featured, emphasis is put on their bodies and not their intellectual capabilities most of the time.
We must flood the internet with our own stories. Told on our own terms. By us.
My online campaign, #AllWomenAreRoleModels and #StrongerForGirls, focuses on highlighting women and their diverse strengths and INDIVIDUAL AND UNIQUE SUCCESSES. These stories don’t normally make the news as they are not considered newsworthy.
”It is not often that we are able to hear stories from women themselves in major news and media outlets. Instead, what we are left with is the shadow of one kind of truth. That is, what we learn about women is one-dimensional—it flattens and diminishes the reality and experiences of the women… However, more often than not, media related to women is exploitative; it victimizes the women, represents them for outside consumption and hardly sheds light on the actual, diverse realities of women […]” – Gender Across Borders.
This is what makes me sick and tired of profit-driven media and their news not reporting women objectively. I want to change that. And my campaign is part of my effort to transform this reality. On wefsa.org, women get to speak their successes, their challenges and the way they rise from those challenges to successes. This gets to make news and be read around the world.