When a group of 20 women living in Pemba, Zanzibar started a diving business to provide for their families, people started asking questions. In Zanzibar, women are expected to stay home taking care of their husbands and children. Defying expectations, the divers are proving that women can be entrepreneurs too. The divers shared their stories with journalists who work for community radio stations and are participating in Internews’ Boresha Habari (Better News) project. Ali Mwadini, Internews media trainer in Zanzibar, supports four community radio stations and guides journalists in story mapping, identifying their audiences, and sharpening their interviewing skills. Journalists also learn the necessary skills to cover gender issues in their reporting, challenging stereotypes and highlighting women as drivers of change. They are trained in in-depth coverage of issues such as gender-based violence, early marriage, and family abandonment. Zuwena Iddi Ali, the Chairperson of the women’s diving cooperative, was invited by Mwadini to tell her story at a training for community radio journalists. Married with six children, Ali goes to fishing camps and deep diving every month for eight to ten days and earns up to $40 from selling her catch. Her income helped pay for a new roof for her house and a sewing machine for her daughter. Women in Pemba are making a living through diving, defying local expectations.The women’s husbands when interviewed said that while they were initially concerned about their wives’ new endeavors, they soon saw the positive impact the activity had on their families. Additionally, the community’s Imam explained from a religious perspective that women can take part in business, pointing out that the prophet Mohamed’s wife was an entrepreneur. Following the training, Haji Nassor Mohammed, a journalist working with Zanzibar Leo Newspaper, wrote a story on the divers, which was published in September. The story drew mixed reaction from community members, which roughly fell into two groups. Some people felt that husbands in Pemba were falling short in fulfilling their families’ daily needs thus forcing women like Zuwena to engage in work that was previously a taboo for women. This group wanted journalists to write stories that would encourage husbands to take more responsibility to provide for their families. Others praised Zuwena as a courageous woman who was proving that being a woman is not a barrier to engaging in economic activities. They see Zuwena as a role model to the change that Pemba needs. Some members of a WhatsApp group for journalists from Zanzibar praised the journalists telling the story of the divers as good for women’s empowerment, and that Zuwena’s activities would encourage other women. Mwadini stresses that it’s important to train journalists to report stories that go against societal norms in order to challenge how people think about issues, particularly when it comes to women’s roles and their treatment. Internews’ project in Tanzania, Boresha Habari, is funded by USAID, and implemented in partnership with FHI 360. It seeks to support an open, inclusive environment in which media and civil society provide accurate and impartial information that promotes participation, inclusion, and accountability. A core focus of this activity is the engagement and empowerment of women and youth in order to elevate their voices, influence, and issues in the public sphere as both producers and consumers of information. (Banner image: A woman walks on the beach in Zanzibar. Credit Paolo Lucciola/CC)
Impact: Women and Media
Reaching equality for all starts with increasing women’s participation, inclusion, and leadership in media and technology.
Women and girls are disproportionately affected by information inequality. Often ignored or invisible in the media, with far less content featuring their expertise and views, women are vastly underrepresented in journalism and media leadership. Worldwide, women still lag behind men in access to the Internet, and when they do engage online, women and girls experience more intense harassment, including sexual harassment.
Internews helps journalists – men and women – produce content that challenges stereotypes, highlights women as drivers of change, and covers critical issues for women and girls. We mentor women leaders in media and technology, design methods to help news outlets increase women as expert sources, and create custom trainings for women, including how to stay safe online. Our Gender Equality & Women’s Empowerment Strategy drives our approach.
Women and Media: An Imbalance
Studies show that the disparate experiences between women and men in media is widespread and varied.
Internews in Context: Addressing Sexual Harassment in the Media
To address the issue of women journalists who face sexual harassment, Internews in Tanzania produced this Public Service Announcement, based on a real incident of a woman journalist being harassed while interviewing a source:
The unfortunately common, everyday challenges of navigating online spaces as women is the focus of Safe Sisters, a digital safety and empowerment program that has seen enormous success in increasing women’s ability to safeguard their privacy, protect their data, and, importantly, share their knowledge with women and girls in their communities.
"I can now recognize online violence for what it is and I have learned to choose which battles I fight and which ones I leave. It’s been interesting to see people within my close circles come to realize just how much they have either been victims or perpetrators of violence online and so it’s is an ongoing and evolving conversation.” —Safe Sister
United for News is a non-profit, mission-driven global coalition of media, NGOs and private industry, founded by Internews in collaboration with the World Economic Forum. In this video, Director Jennifer Cobb talks about United for News' program to combat the lack of gender diversity in news reporting:
Saba Rehman is a photographer in Pakistan’s FATA region. She uses her camera to illuminate little-seen and misunderstood corners of her society. Since 2012, when she was one of 17 Pakistani young people selected by Internews to attend an intensive photography training, conducted in partnership with National Geographic Photo Camp, Rehman has been getting herself and her camera into the most unlikely of places.
Farida Rahim Aziz established her radio station – Radio Saraish – in 2013 in Jowzjan, Afghanistan. Even though the years that followed were burdened with hardship and challenges, she has never looked back. Radio Saraish is one of 17 women-led radio stations in Afghanistan’s Salam Watandar Radio Network, launched and supported by Internews. These stations have produced and broadcast more than 400 radio reports and feature stories, covering topics that relate to women in local communities..
"In 2016, the Taliban threatened me and told me to stop broadcasting radio programs about women’s right issues, such as violence against women. I was forced to wear a burqa for my own safety and all our female employees left. But I did not give up."
Girl Power: Little Stories of Big Acts features women from Ukraine's past and present. The book is targeted to children in Ukraine who have been affected by the ongoing conflict. In particular, girls who are especially affected because of their unequal status in society and their sex.
1UNESCO: Re-Thinking Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality in 2015 and Beyond (A further 48% of news stories were evaluated as “neutral” on gender stereotypes.)
2Global Institute for Women’s Leadership