WanaData Africa
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WanaData Africa

#BreakTheBias: How International Women’s Day was Celebrated by WanaData

On 8 March every year, the world celebrates the milestones achieved by women from different walks of life. This is usually also an opportunity to discuss challenges hindering women’s development and strategise the way forward. This day is acknowledged as International Women’s Day (IWD).

WanaData (WD) celebrated IWD on March 8 and March 9 by focusing on the existing gender bias and stereotypes in media and tech spaces and how to break them. WD also highlighted stories and experiences of women who have risen above gender bias and stereotypes to become movers and shakers in the two industries.

The two days were characterised by impactful panel discussions by women achievers from both anglophone and francophone countries.

For anglophone countries, the panel discussion was led by Rose Lukalo-Owino (Kenya), an independent journalist and editor; Angela Emuwa (Nigeria), a seasoned veteran in the Nigerian publishing industry; and Kagure Gacheche (Kenya), a commissioning editor at The Conversation Africa.

We also had Mabinty Magdalene Kamara (Sierra Leone), the Editor of Politico Newspaper, and Phathiswa Magopeni (South Africa), a journalist, academic, and business executive.

For the francophone session, we had Dominique Hodieb (Cameroon), founder of La case créative; Maria Diop ( Senegal), programme manager and editor-in-chief at Ndar Media TV; Paule Kadja T raoré(Senegal), director of the Abena Communication agency; and Dorothée Danedjo Fouba (Cameroon), senior multimedia journalist and media education engineer.

Phathiswa encouraged participants to make the right decisions which can at times be tough decisions if they want to break gender bias and stereotypes. She emphasised that at some point in her career, tough decisions will need to be made to stand for what is right and therefore, a strong social conscience is necessary.

According to GMMP 2020, women are dramatically underrepresented in the news, both as news subjects and sources. The stakeholders opined that women should learn to stand up for themselves to change this perspective.

“Media has the power and should be used to discuss women stereotypes every single day,” said Paule Kadja Traoré.

In addition, Kagure Gacheche advised young women getting into media spaces to be aware and break free of the non-verbal behaviours that fuel gender bias.

“Women need to speak up for themselves and build a tribe around them that will cheer and urge them on,” she said.

On her part, Mabinty acknowledged that men dominate the media space, and women can stand out by remaining passionate and determined.

To highlight the male dominance, Mabinty revealed that out of 144 registered papers in Sierra Leone with about 47 active, they only have about five women in decision-making positions, with three in the editorial space.

“Women have been further underrepresented in Sierra Leone’s media space. Education in Sierra Leone is a privilege as a lot of people are not educated due to poverty and mindset,” she added.

What next on #breakthebias in media and tech spaces?

Creating a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination in media and tech spaces is not easy. It can be achieved only if we observe gender equality and equity in the workspace.

“Women need to be aware of gender bias and stereotypes but not be subservient to it,” said Rose Lukalo.

On the other hand, Angela argues that women should keep developing academically while building networks. She also encourages women not to be afraid to step into their positions.

Esther Wanza, the Community Manager at Code for Africa, summed up the WanaData’s IWD event terming it successful.

“It was great getting such good feedback not only from women in media and tech spaces across Africa but also from men who attended the event. This reflects the fact that the journey towards gender parity is inclusive of everyone, not just women,” said Wanza.

In celebrating the International Women’s Day event, WanaData members from different cities in Africa joined the movement to #BreakTheBias by posting on social media.

Join other women in media and tech spaces and learn of fellowships, mentorship and training opportunities within WanaData.

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WanaData is a Pan-African network of female journalists, data scientists and techies working on changing the digital media landscape by producing and promoting data-driven news while applying digital technologies in their storytelling.

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