Guest Column

In response to Mondli Makhanya: All centres of power must fight gender oppression

2018-08-07 08:06
ANCWL President Bathabile Dlamini (file image)

ANCWL President Bathabile Dlamini (file image)

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Meokgo Matuba

Congratulations on your second anniversary as editor-in-chief of City Press. You resumed your assignment in this most powerful position on 1 August 2016 and your anniversary therefore coincides with the beginning of Women's Month in South Africa.

This year thousands of members of society marked the beginning of Women's Month by marching to various strategic centres of power calling for an end to all form of gender-based violence and inequalities. I hoped that you would use your position of power to ensure the marches that took place on that day made it to the front page of your newspaper this Sunday.

Unfortunately, you resorted to misusing your position of power and your mighty pen to write an opinion piece aimed at discrediting the African National Congress (ANC) Women's League and successful marches organised by the Young Women’s Desk of the ANC Women's League.

Like all media platforms, City Press plays a critical role in shaping public opinion. The power of your pen has the ability to strengthen or destroy society. Your mighty pen has ability to portray angels as villains and villains as angels. Your subjective opinion piece in today's City Press is nothing but an agenda to negatively sway public opinion against the ANC Women's League and its Young Women’s Desk.

Your opinion piece is not apolitical but reflects what was once said by Pratyoush Onta that "the mainstream media is very much politicised and it picks up women issues according to the political interest of patron political parties..."

Mr Makhanya, all forms of gender oppression have tremendous costs to society and it is important that all strategic centres of powers in society are confronted and pressurised to intensify their programmes aimed at building a gender oppression free society.

The Young Women’s Desk of the ANC Women's League identified strategic centres of power in all the provinces of the country and successfully mobilised society to march to those centres. Thousands joined those marchers countrywide. It is not by coincidence that Luthuli House was identified as one of those centres of power to receive the memorandum. Luthuli House is the headquarters of the governing party, the ANC, which is the leader of society.

As the ANC Women's League we are also grateful that on the very same day there were other marches organised by various formations. We applaud many voices and one message, which is the liberation of all oppressed groups. We encourage active participation of all members of society in the fight against gender inequalities.

As a seasoned journalist and former chairperson of South African National Editors Forum (Sanef), you might be aware that around 2015, Gender Links monitored more than 27 000 news items from television, radio and newspapers in 14 Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries to assess the representation and portrayal of women in the media in this region. One of their key findings was that gender-based violence and stories that mentioned gender-based violence account only for 1% of the topics covered, despite the high levels of gender-based violence in SADC.

Over and above ticking attendance registers of marches and condemning the Young Women’s Desk of the ANC Women's League for organising programs championing interests of women, please use your mighty pen and your position of power, Mr Makhanya, to ensure that City Press becomes a leader in SADC on stories that mentions gender-based violence.

Furthermore, you have a responsibility that those stories are not sensationalised, exploitative, and lacking in serious analysis of the prevalence. Lead the media industry, Mr Makhanya, in frowning upon all gender stereotypes reporting.

Media is one of the strategic centres of power that should advocate for a gender oppression free society in theory and in practice. Use your position of power and your mighty pen to advocate for fundamental changes in the structures, systems, patterns of ownership, management and control of media houses in favour of all South Africans, in particular the poor and the working class, the majority of whom are Africans and females.

On August 1 there were many voices but one message calling for an end to gender oppression and exploitation. Since its formation the ANC Women's League as an integral part of the ANC, which is the leader of society, raised its voice against gender oppressions and will continue doing so. It is unfortunate that you did not use your position of power to ensure that the marches that took place countrywide on August 1 were on the front page of City Press.

For your information, the ANC Women's League will also be using this August to honour the heroines of women's struggles and will have various programs countrywide to intensify the struggle against gender inequalities. We will also be participating actively in the programs organised by the ANC-led government.

Whilst we use this month to reflect, commemorate and highlight the plight of women in the country, we are committed to 365 days of fighting for a gender oppression free society and hoping that you will put up those stories on the front page of City Press.

Your contribution in the fight to dismantle patriarchy and male chauvinism in all sectors including the media sector is required more than ever before. Your political agenda of discrediting the ANC Women's League will not contribute to an end to gender inequality in South Africa. We respect that you have freedom of speech and we will also unashamedly enjoy our freedom of choosing to attend events wearing our own regalia. We will not apologise to City Press's editor-in-chief or any of his line managers for enjoying the hard-earned rights fought for by our forebears.

Your anniversary at City Press is in Women's Month and hopefully you will use your position of power and celebrate your anniversary by giving more coverage to stories focusing on the fight against gender-based violence and all forms of gender oppression in the country. You are in a key position to positively rally society to build a gender oppression free society rather than making some political postures that one might be tempted to assume reflects the views of those who pay your salary.

Once more congratulations on your second anniversary as the editor-in-chief of City Press.

In the struggle for gender equality.

- Meokgo Matuba is secretary-general of the African National Congress Women's League.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    anc women's league  |  ancwl  |  women's month  |  women's day
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