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Power to the region: GEMSA is born.

The Southern African Gender and Media summit witnessed the birth of a new force in the gender and media sector in the region. Gender and Media Southern Africa (GEMSA) will work towards ensuring greater gender sensitivity and representation in the media. It will provide an umbrella for the many individuals and organisations in the region committed to greater gender balance and sensitivity in the media. Noting that there is no regional network of its kind anywhere else in the world, international gender and media expert and author of Gender Setting Margaret Gallagher declared, "we are at the cutting edge here!" as Gender and Media Southern Africa (GEMSA) came to life. "The idea of merging the different media constituencies into a network focusing on gender and media is a complete innovation," she said. GEMSA is a result of the organising and activism that has taken place both within the media and outside in response to the findings of the Gender and Media Baseline Study (GMBS) in September 2003. The regional status of the network will give more weight to individual country activities, provide Southern African media organisations, media practitioners and gender activists with a platform to share experiences, overcome common obstacles and monitor progress towards achieving greater gender balance in the media. The networks' vision is to "link organisations and individuals who promote gender and equality in and through the media in tangible, action-oriented strategies aimed at achieving and measuring change." The values underpinning the network include gender equality, accuracy and balance in the media, freedom of expression, the right of men and women to access information, among others. Organisations and individuals who subscribe to these values are encouraged to join the network. At an institutional level, GEMSA activities will be coordinated by an executive committee with a general meeting of members taking place at least once every two years. Colleen Lowe Morna, executive director of Gender Links was unanimously voted chair of GEMSA, with Emmanual Kasongo, director of the Zambia Institute for Mass Communication, elected as deputy chairperson. In a statement issued at the close of the Gender and Media Summit, GEMSA called on political leaders to develop a legally binding framework to ensure gender balance in all areas of decision-making. GEMSA's chairperson Colleen Lowe Morna said: "What we have so far succeeded in achieving in Southern Africa are many paper rights for women. We are in the more difficult phase of the struggle: that of challenging the deeply entrenched structural barriers to equality such as custom, culture and religion. What is needed is a sea change in mindsets: of men towards women and of women towards their own emancipation. The media is one of the most significant allies we can possibly hope for in bringing about this change."

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Cyberspace Campaign to ratify Protocol on Women's Rights in the African Union

African civil society groups in 13 countries have launched a petition to African leaders as part of a continent-wide campaign to mobilise support for the ratification of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women. So far the campaigners have collected over 1154 signatures, of which 305 came in via short messaging service (SMS). The campaigners are demanding that African governments ratify the Protocol with immediate effect.

The Protocol provides a framework for comprehensive reform of national legislation that guarantees the rights of women. But in order to come into force it needs to be ratified by at least 15 countries. To date, only four countries--Comoros, Libya, Namibia and Rwanda--have ratified the protocol. In urging support for the petitions on the Protocol, Raashied Galant of the Gender Advocacy Programme (GAP), said civil society should engage with the campaign as a matter of urgency. At the moment the footwork is being done by governments, he said. Civil society organisations must understand and learn to engage with this process.

Source: www.genderlinks.org.za

Sister Namibia congratulates the Namibian Government for speedily ratifying the AU Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa. Our organisation has already embarked on a series of three-day training workshops across the county to educate women on their rights so that they can hold government accountable to its promises to women.
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Title Annotation:Gender and Media Southern Africa
Author:Omale, Juliana
Publication:Sister Namibia
Geographic Code:6SOUT
Date:Oct 1, 2004
Words:705
Previous Article:First Southern African Gender and Media Awards presented in Johannesburg.
Next Article:Steering by the Stars: Being young in South Africa; By Mamphela Ramphele.
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