Ethiopian women are far less likely to be used as media information sources than their male counterparts. The Ethiopian Media Women Association, EMWA, wanting to amplify women’s voices, have developed a directory of women experts to fill the gender gap and challenge stereotypes.
“We have had requests from journalists, and other organisations looking for female references. We are now proud that we broke the bridge and published our first step in providing easy access to information to journalists through this directory. This is an important document,” says Rahel Zewdu, EMWA board member at the launch of the directory on 17 May 2023 in Addis Abeba. Maria Monahov, first secretary, Embassy of Sweden, and Sofie Gullberg, Fojo-IMS Programme Manager, who has supported its development, both said they hoped that the directory will help bridge biased reporting and lead to more women experts being seen and heard in the daily news coverage.
Rahel Zewdu added that, “as EMWA we hope that this simplifies journalists’ search for sources for their news and that it will bring more women’s voices forward as news sources, including persons with disabilities. We also hope to monitor and collect news stories on how women experts are used as a news sources. The impact may not be visible short term, but we will have a lot more visibility and promotion which will help introduce this approach to journalists. We are confident that it will inspire many more female experts to come to the front page”.
By developing this gender expert directory EMWA wants to not only help the media to amplify women voices, challenge stereotypes and fill the gender gap in the media, but also promote gender diversity and representation in the media to enable people to receive information relevant to their experience from diverse sources of information.
“This women expert’s directory will be a tool for journalists and media practitioners to use women as their programme sources. It will also contribute to a change towards the social stereotypical attitude which limits women to only a few areas of expertise. Moreover, in a broader perspective, this directory will shape the wrong portrayal of women in media into constructive imagery” said Melkamsew Solomon, board member of the EMWA.
The directory and website database have 18 categories that include women authoritative voices in agriculture, engineering, art, literature, ICT, business, disability, gender, health, food science, tourism, and others and will be a national ’women only’ directory of expertise that can be approached by journalists to serve as news sources.
Journalists and media professional can access the online database at http://www.emwaet.org. in addition, women experts who are interested to be part of this database will have a chance to upload their stories.
About the EMWA
The Ethiopian Media Women Association (EMWA) is a non-partisan, non-profit professional association established in 1999 to promote women’s rights through and in the media. EMWA challenges low participation of women in the media, negative portrayal, low coverage on issues that concern women, low access to information and media in general, and low access to decision-making positions in the media Currently, EMWA has over 200 registered members from all fields of media and communication: private and government media, NGOs, international organisations, communication agencies, professional individual women media practitioners throughout the country.