Democracy Talks: Women in the News – Promoting gender equality in media

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Democracy Talks:
Women in the News – Promoting gender equality in media

Wed 9 June, 10 am – 11.45 am, online 

Concept note and Programme 

Tentative programme and participants 

10.00 Introduction by Ambassador of Sweden Johanna Teague 

10.15 Part 1: Presentation of the study “Barriers to Women Journalists in Rwanda” by Dr Yemisi Akinbobola and Dr Rachel-Ann Charles-Hatt, African Women in Media 

Panel discussion with Umutesi Doreen, Board Member of ARFEM, Solange Ayanone, Vice-President of ARJ, and Arthur Asiimwe, CEO of Rwanda Broadcasting Agency 

11.00 Part 2: Presentation of press photographs from the World Press Photo exhibition on the theme Media’s role in changing social norms about gender 

Panel discussion 

Comments from the audience 

11.30 Closing remarks by Guest of Honour (TBC) 

The programme is moderated by Clement Kirenga, Embassy of Sweden. 

The talk will be organized as an online seminar on Zoom. For a link, participants are asked to register by sending an email to 


Rwanda has made great progress in gender equality and has an ambitious gender policy that cuts across all sectors of society. It is steadily among the top ten countries globally on the Gender Gap Index and the highest-ranking African country. It has made great strides in legal reforms and protection against violence is enshrined in law. Challenges remain, however. The challenges to implementation of ambitious policies is often said to emanate from cultural norms that discriminate against women. 

Since the media reforms that started 2012, the media sector has been growing rapidly. For women, pursuing a career is still challenging. Of the journalists accredited by Rwanda Media Commission at the 

end of 2019, about 24 percent were female1. The major challenge for women journalists is the high prevalence of harassment and gender-based violence in the workplace. In a survey commissioned by Fojo Media Institute and Swedish Radio Media Development Office, 54 percent of surveyed female journalists reported that sexual harassment had a negative impact on their entry into journalism. A third had considered leaving the profession specifically due to sexual harassment. Most high-profile positions in media are dominated by men, while women are often overlooked and assigned to cover what are seen as softer topics. Another study shows that in the top news stories of eight Rwandan media, women made up only 13 percent of the reporters. 

1 Assessment of Gender Status in Rwanda Media Sector, MHC, 2019 

2 Global Media Monitoring Project 

3 Content Analysis of news coverage in Rwanda, Fojo and SR MDO 

An interrelated aspect of gender equality in media is the representation of women in media content. How women and men are portrayed reflects and contributes to how society sees the role of women and men, respectively. All over the world, women tend to be portrayed in stereotypical ways, as victims, caregivers or in a sexualized manner. Too often they are simply absent from media content. Globally, only 24 percent of the persons heard, read about, or seen in news reports are women and there has been very little progress in the past years2. Also in Rwanda, women’s voices are underrepresented in the news. According to a content study, men were twice as often cited as sources of news.3 

Swedish support to the media sector and gender equality 

The Embassy of Sweden is a long-term supporter of Rwanda media development. Since the start of the media reforms in 2012, Sweden has supported both institutional reforms and capacity development of journalists. A new five-year programme with Fojo Media Institute, Swedish Radio Media Development Office is beginning in 2021 and includes capacity building of media houses and support to journalism education, including a strong focus on gender equality in media. The programme is co-financed by Swizz Development Cooperation. Sweden also has significant support in the area of gender equality, with long-term support both to the Government gender machinery and to the women’s rights organisations in civil society. 

Concept of the Talk 

The objective of the webinar is to raise awareness and encourage a discussion on the challenges women journalists face in their profession as well as the portrayal of women in media content, and to inspire stakeholders to be proactive in strengthening gender equality in media. The target audience includes journalists and media workers, government institutions, universities, civil society, and development partners. 

The webinar is hosted by the Embassy of Sweden as part of the Democracy Talks series, a global series of seminars, workshops and talks organized by Swedish embassies around the world, associated with the Swedish Government’s Drive for Democracy. 

The event is organised in conjunction with the World Press Photo exhibition, launched in Kigali on 7 June, supported by the Dutch Embassy and the EU Delegation. 

The discussion will be divided in two parts, the first one based on a presentation of a recent study by African Women in Media, commissioned by Fojo Media Institute. The second part will focus more on the representation of women in media and how media can contribute to change of discriminatory social norms. Press photos from the World Press Photo exhibition showing positive agency of women will be shown to inspire the second part of the discussion.