Kenyan women MPs leave Parliament. Photo: Courtesy

Media ignores women aspirants in the August polls

It is now less than a month to the August 8, 2017 elections. As the campaigns reach a crescendo, there is something missing from the picture and no one is noticing.

Women candidates vying for various posts are not being heard.

If you watch debates on topical issues related to elections on television, you will notice that women are hardly invited as panelists. Are their voices unimportant? Or have media houses decided to give them a blackout?

The media is the highest market place that one can sell one’s agenda and reach the most important customers – the voters.

However, getting a slot in the media has become an uphill task for women.

Some journalists complain that women political leaders shy away from the big screen and other media, but the women say they are often uninvited to even give a simple comment or their comments never see light of day.

At a recent forum organised by women candidates in Kisii County, women leaders said male politicians get more coverage at women’s expense.

If there is this overt skewed representation in news media, what is the media doing to balance reporting? Do reporters go out of their way to give women politicians a voice to air their views the same way they give men?

Or have they decided women are silent participants in the ongoing political activities in the country?

Some of the women parliamentarians in the 11th Parliament. Photo: courtesy

Some of the women parliamentarians in the 11th Parliament. Photo: courtesy

Indeed, one of the roles of the media during elections is to promote a bigger canvas for ideas to ensure that voters make truly and thoroughly informed choices.

Since this is not happening, probably the Independent and Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Communication Authority (CA), National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC), Media Council of Kenya (MCK) and other media regulatory organisations should come up strongly and insist that guidelines on reporting are respected in order to ensure women are included in daily reporting.

A media that cherishes and promotes plurality of ideas thrives.

There is a time it was a rule in newsrooms that every story must have voices from both gender.

Whatever happened to this rule has done more damage to journalism than the brown envelop culture that everyone frowns upon.


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