Winners and Sinners on Women’s Day

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Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) has been sifting through the articles and submersing itself in reports, and here are our best and worst picks of media’s representation of women on the 9th August 2010, and in the days immediately before and after Women’s Day.

13 newspapers, all based in Gauteng, as well as television reports (ETV and SABC1, 2 and 3), were looked at as part of this qualitative project. This is just a quick snap shot of the winners and sinners on Women’s Day.

Most marked the occasion by giving a brief history of the event, and Women’s Day celebrations. There were also quite a few profiles of positive female role models (e.g. Super Women, Sunday Sun 08/08/10 p.5, Hewitt helps kids find their inner hero, Sunday Independent 08/08/10 p. 9, Women with knives, Sunday Times, Lifestyle 08/09/10 p.12,13, Devoted to the fight against HIV and Aids, Sowetan 10/08/10 p.10,Voorslag-vrou, Beld 09/08/10 p.14).

MMA was pleased to see that gender roles and stereotypes were challenged (e.g. Formidable Force in a ‘male’ industry, Sowetan 10/08/10 p.10, Is it not time for married men to change their names too? Sunday Independent, 08/08/10 p. 21). That female empowerment should not be confined to a single day was also debated and in the case of violence against women this argument was made particularly strongly by Lisa Vetten in her article in Sowetan (Women Still Suffer Alone, Sowetan, 10,08,10 p.13)

MMA also observed efforts made by SABC 2’s Morning Live programme to interview women whose voices are often marginalised, including rural women.

However overall, MMA noted a degree of gender fatigue creeping into reporting around the day. So the pick of Women’s Day is a feature which adopted a fresh approach.

Winner

Saturday Star devoted a full page to “two ground-breaking events (that) took women’s rights further in our country this year” in its Insight Section, in Canvas Life.

In its article “What type of man lifts his hand to hit a woman?” (Saturday Star, 07,08,10 p.15) Janet Smith examines Sonke’s case against ANCYL leader Julias Malema over comments about women’s attitudes to sex, which the Equality Court found to be hate speech and harassment. The article also looks at Sonke’s work, and the experiences of its head of advocacy Mbuyiselo Botho, in attempting to alter men’s ideas about women and about themselves, to further gender equality.

Janet Smith’s second article “ARV-gel a very real empowerment for women(Saturday Star, 07,08,10 p.15) examines why this scientific breakthrough may make a real difference in the lives of women in South Africa, where rape and the refusal of men to ware condoms is still too common.

The attitudes that are so problematic in the second article are the very ones that are being challenged in Sonke’s work in the first. It is clear from this full page spread, that achieving equality requires effort and commitment from both men and women, and that we still have a distance to go. Well done Saturday Star.

Sinners

While broadcasters ETV and SABC mentioned the proposed Gender Equality Bill in their reporting, most newspapers missed the opportunity, to take a look at this piece of legislation, on a day when it could not have been more relevant.

Advertisers also got in on the act for Women’s Day and we have picked some winners and sinners here too!

Winners

Many companies put their female staff front and centre in their Women’s Day advertising, but MMA applauds Bonitas for their ad which appeared in newspapers: “Serious About Women Leading the Industry”.  Rather than simply showing that it has some impressive women on its workforce, it highlights the fact that “50% of (its) senior management team is made up of women.”

Checkers are also deserving of praise for their Women of the Year Awards – way to mark women who make a difference!

Sinners

But of course we found some clangers too! Particularly unpopular in the MMA office was DSTV’s print advertisement showing a remote control which read: “This Women’s Day, we’re putting you in control”. This is a patronising advert that suggests women will be happy so long as they have the pick of what’s on TV…but only for one day.

This is just a taste of some of the Women’s Day winners and sinners. A more comprehensive analysis will be published soon on https://www.mediamonitoringafrica.org

And if you have suggestions for other possible winners and sinners please send in you suggestions to lauraf@mma.org.za

Contact Laura Fletcher
Advocacy & Research Officer
Media Monitoring Africa
Tel: +2711 788 1278
Cell:+27 73 046 3404
Fax: +2711 788 1289
lauraf@mma.org.za

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