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Kinshasa: Female journalists plot their way forward

MONUC - April 9, 2008

A morning of discussion under the theme
A morning of discussion under the theme "the independence of women in the media, their assets, limits and way forward" was organised by the Association of Women Journalists (AJPF) in Kinshasa on 8 April 2008. The meeting was attended by AJPF members and a representative from MONUC’s Gender Office.

AJPF president Jacqueline Mulanga recounted what was said at the MONUC conference workshop on 7 March last, in celebration of the International Woman’s Day.

She outlined the speech of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who incited women to mobilise themselves for the promotion of gender equality and the emancipation of women.

“Gender equality is not only an aim in itself, it is an indispensable condition to achieve all the other international development objectives, including the Millennium Development Goals,” she said.

AJPF General Secretary  Beatrice Makaya stressed the assets, limits and constraints which female journalists face in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ms. Makaya emphasised the talents of some pioneering journalists, who showed much competence despite never attending journalism school. She added that this competence was recognized by the large journalism schools.

One of the AJPF’s programme priorities was in information technology, said Ms. Makaya, as many female journalists lacked skills in this field.

But Ms. Makaya added that female Congolese journalists in many newspapers and television channels were women who “manage human resources issues with tact.”

However vis-à-vis these assets, the talents of the women are slowed down by limits and constraints, such as poverty, habits and prejudices within Congolese media and society, as well as Congolese law itself.

Charlotte Ngungi of MONUC’s Gender Affairs Division gave a report on the weak representation of the woman in seats of power in the DRC. There are 42 women out of 500 deputies in the National Assembly; 5 women out of 108 senators; 43 women out of 690 provincial deputies; 1 woman out of 22 elected provincial governors and vice governors; and at the central government there are 5 women out of the total 42 members.

To rectify this, Ms. Ngungi proposed that the woman journalists should give more focus to gender issues. “It is necessary to arouse the interest and to analyse the problems under the gender issue,” she said.

She reiterated the engagement of MONUC to help Congolese media professionals so that they have the necessary tools, but said that “we are not a finance or development institute, but we can give you advice on the matter.”

The AJPF, created in 1981, has 72 members, of which 32 are in Kinshasa with the other members based in the provinces of Katanga, Bas Congo and Bandundu.

The association had only women members until the year 2000, but it evolved to fulfill the gender issue, and today it has six men, of which one is vice president and the other is Assistant General Secretary .

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