The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) have on Thursday awarded its first batch of local female journalist certificates in media management qualifications from WITS University after they completed Women in News (WIN) training programme last year. The six, who ranked from long serving senior journalists to editors who among others include The Voice editor in chief Emang Bokhutlo, former Midweek Sun Editor Boitshepo Balozwi who is now pursuing a postgraduate qualification in the United States and Weekend Post Assignment Editor Francinah Baaitse, were fingered as part of an elite group of media women from across the Southern African region who will benefit from this highly regarded media leadership programme.“The graduates are already reporting improvements and growth in both their personal and professional life since joining the programme,” said local publisher Beata Kasale, who also sits in WAN-IFRA steering committee.
When awarding the graduates their certificates, long time gender activist and the current Minister of Basic Education, Dr Unity Dow applauded WAN-IFRA and the local media industry for being proactive in empowering women in an otherwise male dominated industry.According to Dr. Dow, it is programmes such as this one which will ensure that women are judged on merit and not necessarily sidelined because of their gender.“This is not the only industry in which women are judged and sidelined because they are women and not for the work they do, it is thus commendable that you are at least doing something about it,” said Dow.The progress made so far has been according to Africa Director for WIN Programme, Dr Tikhala Chibwana really impressive. He points out that participants have so far shown professional growth as attested by their managers/ editors, that they have also developed evident confidence boost and horned their professional negotiation skills to mention but a few.“Participants acquire new skills to improve their work progress but also to improve their personal lives,” Dr Chibwana said, highlighting that this was due to the holistic approach adopted by the programme in addressing shortcomings faced by participants.
This, according to the Director, is taken to ensure balance in the lives of participants.“This is a long-standing and successful programme, which has seen many news media women progress through their career and have positive impact on their organisations. The fact that they are also coached to have a three /five year career plan, shows that it is a unique programme,” he said.The programme currently runs in 12 countries, and this according to Dr Chibwana provides an opportunity for participants to build networks with fellow African journalists; adding that networking are a very powerful tool which one can use to grow and find new opportunities in other areas other than where they are based. The programme and training is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). The second batch of participants was introduced to the programme this week and as part of their training they will be expected to take a Media Management course. In the six months that the course is expected to run, they will among others work with their national coach, Batsho Dambe-Groth who will guide and monitor their progress. They have also been paired with future leaders, young media university students who will serve as their mentees.