Tanzania: Addressing Gender Balance and Sexual Harassment in Media

Women journalists in Tanzania should speak out whenever they face or witness sexual harassment in the workplace and they should enlist the support of men to address the issue.

This is message Tikhala Chibwana had for 21 women who participated in a Mastering the Media workshop that was conducted by Internews in Dar es Salaam. Chibwana, who facilitated the workshop dealing with gender balance and sexual harassment, is the Africa Director for the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers’ (WAN-IFRA) Women in News (WIN) Program.

He emphasized that keeping quiet was not an option if the journalists wanted to put to an end to sexual harassment. He added that the veil of silence should be removed and both men and women should call out any action deemed to be sexual harassment.

He also urged all “men of goodwill” to join with women to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace, emphasizing that sexual harassment was not a women’s issue but rather a human rights issue.

Chibwana singled out the more experienced journalists to watch over new recruits and interns who are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment.

He also challenged the participants to help improve gender balance in the content that they produce for the media; currently men outnumber women three to one as news sources, subjects, and analysts.

“Half the stories are not being told, half the opinions are not being heard and quite frankly half the readers, viewers and listeners could be out of reach,” Chibwana said.

A series of roundtables titled Mastering the Media has been conducted under Internews’ USAID-funded Boresha Habari project, gathering women together in a safe space to learn professional skills but also to discuss shared issues of harassment, and work to formulate solutions. The sextortion subject—seen as taboo at the beginning of the sessions in 2018 —has become an accepted and frequent topic of discussion in the group and has been covered by print and social media as the project progressed, especially since the launch of a PSA campaign.