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Do female African journalists get the respect they deserve?

By The Africa Report
Posted on Monday, 25 July 2016 10:15

Yes This is a tricky question to answer because the word ‘deserve’ is loaded with meaning. Do journalists in general get the respect they deserve? I don’t think so. But if we are comparing how male and female journalists are treated, I would say that from my personal perspective, women do get as much respect as men if they are professional journalists. In South Africa, women play a very important role in the journalism fraternity. Two of our most influential weeklies, the Mail & Guardian and the City Press, are run by women who are both very respected journalists. It certainly wasn’t easy for them to make it to the top and for many working mothers the long hours in the newsroom can be a big challenge. Students often ask me whether it is more difficult to work as a journalist if you are a woman, especially on assignment in foreign countries. My answer is usually the same: if you act professionally you shouldn’t have any problems. Male politicians or contacts might try to take their chances, especially if you are young and inexperienced, but you don’t need to compromise your own principles just to get a story. When on reporting trips, treat those you meet with respect and often people are more eager to speak out to a woman reporter. The same safety rules for covering conflict situations apply for both men and women. ● Liesl Louw-Vaudran, Johannesburg based freelance journalist, Africa analyst

No Unfortunately female journalists do not get the respect and recognition they deserve in the current framework of African and international media. As an African female journalist, I have found that hardship and career more often than not go hand in hand. The practice of journalism implies constant and consistent interaction with people – in some instances with high profiles or persons who are not easy to get access to. It is for instance, in my opinion, a bigger challenge for African women to approach certain types of interviewees and convince them to contribute to a report and have their voice and story told. Contributing to that phenomenon is the mere fact there are fewer female journalists than male – it is not a path that is encouraged. Often, preconceived notions of what a journalist should be exclude the African woman: parents will dread their daughters being in the field and suffering from difficult reporting conditions or the risks of covering wars and other types of crises. In Africa, the most famous and renowned journalists are men. We do not have our very own Christiane Amanpour yet. However, as journalism is shaken up by the internet era, new types of representatives of the job are finding their place, and that is also the case in Africa. I strongly believe that with social media and participative journalism, the gender inequalities are being reduced day by day. It is therefore the best time for an African female journalist to find her place and earn respect. ● Hannane Ferdjani – Journalist, Africanews

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