Before Organising a Manel on/about/in Kenya…

Classic manel setup on Kenyan TV. Image via www.afromum.com

It’s 2017, and it seems we didn’t leave manels, (all male panels) along with many other things, behind. They are everywhere: locally, regionally, globally. And they must persistently be called out.

Back in May 2016, I wrote for the Daily Nation(in Kenya) on this nefarious issue. They are pervasive. They are normalised. They are problematic. The reactions to the piece have been interesting to follow, primarily via the #SayNoToManelsKE and #SayNoToManels hashtags. (Other hashtags highlighting this issue globally include #AllMalePanels).

I am very pleased to see, and be part of many conversations around this. It is encouraging to note increased awareness on how frequently we are treated to all male panels — in the media, in conferences and events. In turn, these shape perceptions, in many ways, and perpetrate the vicious circle of gendered norms. Some of the popular media shows are notorious for these manels.

Because national issues are an all men affair. 😏

Since the fallacious arguments that there aren’t women qualified or willing to show up are often used to perpetuate and justify manels, Ory Okolloh and I decided to put together a database of women in various sectors and industries across the country. Almost 400 wonderful women have signed up, and most importantly, THEY ARE WILLING to show up.

So, before you organise an event of any kind about/in/on Kenya that isn’t about men’s issues only, and before you dare resort to the excuse that “there are no women” willing to show up, can you please make use of this resource!

The publicly viewable and searchable database can be found at http://bit.ly/SayNoToManelsKE

You can search by industry of interest e.g. tech, health, oil etc.

If interested in specific contacts and for any queries, you can write to saynotomanelske@gmail.com.

The database is populated through this form: http://bit.ly/WomenSpeakersKESignUp

Efforts to tackle valid reservations to participating are also being pursued. Many of them strike at the heart of patriarchal, sexist structures that run this world, and demand constant wokeness to dismantle.

We encourage more Kenyan women to sign up, and help in tackling misrepresentation in our public spaces! If you cannot make it to an event/conference/panel you’ve been invited to, you can use this list to recommend other women, and encourage others in your industry to sign up.

Dear men, once again, a reminder, you can (and should) take a pledge not to take part in manels. We welcome a movement of bold men who will create and take such a pledge.

We need champion organisations to also pledge to not organising manels! In the meantime, we keep calling out manels as witnessed; it’s a critical first step in breaking the norm!

By the way, an all male panel with a female moderator is still a manel!

Here are additional pro-tips on tackling manels.

A special shout out to Sophie Mukhwana and Nanjala Nyabola for helping with organising the list, and public speaking workshops respectively. Mashujaa ni nyinyi! 💪🏾


Originally published at nanjira.com on November 2, 2016.