In mid-November 2023, 33 media houses in Rwanda signed the “Rwanda Media Anti Sexual Harassment Policy”, committing to combat sexual harassment in the workplace. The Policy has been created by the media sector itself with support from Fojo’s Rwanda Media Programme.
“To be subjected to sexual harassment is very sad for female journalists personally – you should feel safe in your work place. It also effects the representation of female journalists in Rwanda media, which is already very low,” says Annelie Frank, Programme Manager for the Rwanda Media Programme (RMP).
A Fojo-report about the state of the Rwandan media shows that over 50 per cent of female journalists have experienced sexual harassment in the beginning of their careers. And almost four out of ten female journalists reported that sexual harassment influenced their decision to leave or made them consider to leave the news media.
“Most countries’ media need an anti sexual harassment policy, and now Rwanda stated a great example for others to follow,” says Annelie Frank. Although Fojo has been instrumental in the creation of the Policy, the request for it came from the media industry in Rwanda itself, who wanted to have something to refer to, guidelines, recommendations and more.
The policy was developed by local expert Dr. Josephine Mukabera and launched at an event in Kigali in mid-November, where media stakeholders were given the opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns. At the event media organisations also had the opportunity to voluntarily sign and commit their organisations to the policy.
33 organisations signed the policy right then and there, a much higher number than had been anticipated by the RMP staff and a great achievement. The policy will be followed up by a media-owned committee who will act as a support function to uphold the policy and make sure organisations follow what they’ve committed to. Fojo has been a strong contributor to both the finalisation of the policy and the formation of the committee.
The Rwanda Media Anti Sexual Harassment Policy sets out practical and detailed definitions, procedures, recommendations, and mechanisms to help media houses and media organisations in Rwanda prevent and handle cases of sexual harassment. The policy was developed by a local expert, Dr. Josephine Mukabera through continuous discussions and workshops with representatives from the media sector.
The vision: The media industry is a safe working environment for all workers and clients, which is free from sexual harassment, discrimination, disrespect, and any other form of inappropriate behaviour; and characterised by a culture where treatment of staff members is with dignity, courtesy, and respect, for fruitful gender relations.