journalists in Tanzania
Dar es Salaam. A new study on the safety of journalists in Tanzania has concluded that journalists in the country work in unsafe conditions, especially female journalists.
The study was conducted by the Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC), a pan-African membership-based civil society network promoting the right of access to information, between 2016 and 2021. The report also covers Kenya and Uganda.
Using the UNESCO Journalists’ Safety Indicators, the study aimed to strengthen the safety of female journalists and reinforce the legal and institutional systems by providing recommendations to support the implementation of the United Nations Action Plan on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.
In Tanzania, the study revealed that male journalists are more likely to be employed in permanent, full-time positions than their female counterparts. The women are also likely to be paid less than their male colleagues, even if they have the same qualifications or do similar work.
Titled: Examining the Gendered Dimensions of Journalists’ Safety Based on UNESCO Journalists’ Safety Indicators, the study found that fewer female journalists practise in Tanzanian newsrooms than male journalists.
This is despite more women than men graduating from journalism tertiary colleges and universities. Speaking during the launch of the report in Dar es Salaam yesterday, AFIC Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator Charity Komujjurizi said that male journalists tend to be more vulnerable to physical abuse in the line of duty through arrests, unlawful detention, and abductions than their female colleagues. However, the tendency has informed the decision of women journalists to avoid fields like politics and business reporting.
“In contrast, female journalists are exposed to more sexual harassment than their male counterparts,” she noted. “Female journalists are asked for sexual favours to be employed, assigned work, given contracts, or promoted. Sexism, misogyny, and cyberattacks were worrying threats to female journalists.” The study calls on the government to enact and effectively implement gender-responsive laws and policies to improve the safety of journalists, especially female journalists, who are most at risk.
“Gender responsiveness should be depicted in state institutions promoting media freedoms and safety in the three countries,” Ms Komujjurizi told journalists.
“This is because, in an environment where governments do not have specific laws, policies, and institutional frameworks addressing the safety of female journalists and impunity, the criminal and civil justice systems, too, cannot deal effectively with threats and acts of violence against female journalists,” she added.
A panel discussion followed the launch of the report, where the chairperson of the Media Institute of Southern Africa-Tanzania Chapter (MISA-TAN), Ms Salome Kitomari, underlined the need to have more women in newsrooms.
“Having more women in newsrooms helps change the narratives not only about women but also about several issues of societal concern,” noted Ms Kitomari, who is also a veteran journalist. “What can be overlooked by a man would be taken seriously by a woman, thus pushing for necessary changes.”