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Day of Evil in Selibe-Phikwe and Philosophy of Death

By Teedzani Thapelo


Local novelist, poet and historian, Teedzani Thapelo* who researched part of his PhD thesis on certain aspects of Selibe-Phikwe a few years ago when the township was on the verge of economic collapse, and later dramatized this experience in his polyphonic novel, Seasons of Thunder, returns to the mining town only to encounter a terrifying wave of puzzlement and consternation.

Twenty years ago the question in everyone’s mind was, will the mine close or not? Today, following the abrupt closure of the mine bewildered residents are asking themselves, will the town die or won’t it, and nobody has a satisfactory answer to this nerve-racking existential question; not the BDP government, not the residents, and many are already returning to reclaim their roots in homelands left in the bush donkey years ago-a town founded on seismic fault lines has disappointed them and ruined lives, hopes and dreams of three generations.


The state of worry is a mark of both distinction and distress in chaotic society; distinction because among the ruins of such a society some people still manage to stand out no matter how desperate the situation is, and distress because many simply crumble and die, so that even when they are still standing and talking, walking about, and even laughing a little bit like everybody else, the spirit of life, the very soul of human life, departs, and what we really see are phantoms mingling about, senseless and irresolute in the midst of desperate ruination and despair.

 

Trouble is most such sorts of living forms are unfortunately usually smothered out of existence altogether through the wicked workings of linguistic register, the phony nature of medical science, and the general wilderness of inefficient words; words that often designate living people as dead, and the dead as living, it’s really a serious problem. The case of Selibe Phikwe clearly demonstrates this dilemma.


Sure, it does involve a very ordinary affair; the unexpected, and haphazard, closure of a mining venture. Words, we all know very well are the greatest enemies of reality. Whatever we don’t want to see we repress, overwhelm and stifle out with words. Whatever we feel uncomfortable with we restrain and conceal in a gigantic ocean of bewildering words. The things we love and desire we exult in words, even when they are out of our possession we still claim such possession with words.

 

To a student of languages this abuse of words at length becomes fatal to both imagination and learning. But politicians have no problem with this burden of unreality; what they see here is a gold mine. Some BDP politicians, for instance, still refuse to admit the mine was closed; “We are just still looking for another buyer,” they say. Oh, really? Why is it the miners and the people of Selibe-Phikwe were not told this before that day of evil, the day when, unprepared, a bunch of BDP politicians matched arrogantly in their town and told them the game was up, and nothing could be done to save the mine from closure, and their desperate lives from ruin and destruction?


Only one thing can guide us towards reality, force of insight and brilliant reading of difficult human situations; going behind words to explore the philosophy of meaning, and this demands clinical empirical observation. It is the one thing scholars are really good at, and the one thing politicians love to hate. Human beings easily get lost in the world of many words, and in many instances, what really appears to be a respectable man talking in such situations is really no more than a parrot squeaking.

 

Trouble is the ordinary Motswana is easily overwhelmed by argument and authority, even when such argument and authority are nothing but pure nonsense. The case of Selibe-Phikwe is illustrative. The illogicality of authoritarian attitude, the ardour of its speech, the hypocritical eloquence of their affected whimpering; all these things Batswana, not only hoard in their emotional breasts, but they fervently, even feverishly, gather them up, often cherish them, and they are always ready to pour them out by the hour in pubs, busses, radio stations, I would not be surprised if this things also formed part of post-coitus bliss, “Oh, that was great, honey, now tell me more about that fuss at Selibe-Phikwe”. No wonder we are no longer a romantic society!


Two things are a serious problem in our society; intellectual insufficiency, and imperfect trust in our own convictions. We also seem to be increasingly becoming too fond of inconveniences. Everything bad is allowed to pass. We even accord distinction to things that are simply too unintelligible to us. I have been accused of malicious investigation by some politicians in this country, and my crime? Writing articles for newspapers.

 

Does that make sense? The real problem with moral corruption, I think, is that the desire for freedom, for the flourishing of human aspirations…the simple love of justice, and even the fidelity of simple minds, are regularly prostituted to the lusts of hate and fear. That we now allow such things to happen in Botswana is something I never anticipated, but I should also admit I saw these things coming. Like most people my first reaction was ambiguous. Now I know better.


The people of Selibe-Phikwe are beginning to experience abandonment, and that is a fate I really would never wish anyone, not even my worst enemy. Batswana are beginning to pay a heavy price for their mystic acceptance of the principle of autocracy in our political culture, and let’s not forget that despotism is by nature a most unwearied industry.

 

The extirpation from the land of public conscience, of all the hallmarks of freedom in public institutions, the ruthless persecution of the rising generation…all these things Batswana welcomed with open arms and minds, and now BDP is hell bent on the destruction of the very hope of liberty itself. What do Batswana have to say about these things? We have even allowed these people to defile the temperament of our nation, and execrate its moral personality. Has anyone ever seen a republic that takes so few precautions for its safety?


For now we can expect two things from the people of Selibe-Phikwe; disorder, and political revolt. But our domestic god, the Autocrat of our wretched Universe, perched comfortably at Government Enclave, will not allow this. A strike by miners in that cursed town was in the past met with such violence that I doubt the cruel memory of that other day of evil is already forgotten.

 

In fact I heard BDP politicians boasting and gloating about that triumph of barbarian politics over poor, and unarmed Batswana workers, at the funeral of Mompati Merafe; it is considered a national heroic deed in BDP history. I wonder what our trade unions, and the suffering people of Selibe-Phikwe think about that.

 

As I write their appointed fate is already overtaking them, and the BDP never bothered to sound out any warning. Very typical isn’t it, this habit of suddenly striking other citizens dead to the ground, annihilating hope and life, and mercilessly ignoring the yells of horror. It happened to Basarwa before, so many times, I’d advice the people of Selibe-Phikwe to take a leaf from the history book of this arrogant politics from Basarwa. They should not expect any help from the BDP and its lackeys at Government Enclave. They must just accept they are on their own. Oh, they will be fed words, billions of words, signifying nothing.


History is teaching us great lessons in this country. The tragedy is that we are learning these things from harsh realities, from plagues, terrors and tomes covered with thorns and thistles. All the same we are learning, and this, I hope, is a learning curve we shall never forget. Even in the face of our rather infrequent moments of elation we really should never forget the dangers that menace our lives and public institutions.

 

The experience of Selibe-Phikwe is a stark reminder of the impermanence of human security, comfort and happiness in our country, and we should all remember a political culture that cannot safeguard these minimal standards of civilized life is a system based on falsehood and deceit. No faint apologetic smiles can compensate for such loses; for these facile gestures, too, are revoltingly dishonest and treacherous. The people of Selibe-Phikwe are beginning to learn these things in a bad way, and they are learning very fast.


Meanwhile at Government Enclave people are still receiving medals, and BDP monstrous institutions are still giving rewards and appointments to people who really should never have been in the civil service in the first place…to solve the problems of Selibe-Phikwe; the children and people of that wretched town, the very people painfully aware of the emotional tensions of their time, are just spectators. How amazing! Just how are these victims of pure political malice expected to defer to these strangers and their grand superior airs?

 

I suppose they will have to take these things in just as much great confusion as the crisis plaguing and blighting their lives…the jeering, and leering, the condescending murmurs, the French perfumes, and the peculiar emphasis on sterile bureaucratic resolutions…could there be anything more annoying, more disgusting?

 

Just imagine those poor people emerging as they are from those horribly irritating sulphuric fumes from the dead mine, and already being exposed to just as nauseating French perfumes, and meanwhile children are out of school, men and women out of work, businesses are collapsing, and professional artisans who have worked for decent wages all their lives are being told to go and till tomatoes for a living, learn to declare war on exotic worms that seem to have a frighteningly huge appetite for tomatoes…how weird!


Selibe-Phikwe is a town that was built by workers and foreign capital. Government only came on board later. Why now are these workers being excluded from decisions that so intimately involve their lives, their future, and the lives of their children and loved ones? Why are worker organisations being marginalised in these silly talks about redirecting the future of the town? Who knows better what the people really want beside the workers of Selibe-Phikwe themselves?

 

Yes, business can play a part in these belated efforts but not if disillusioned workers start gathering up their families and returning to their villages to start eking out some miserable existences there. What incentives have been put in place to keep these people in Selibe-Phikwe? None. 5000 workers translates to families comprising altogether more than 30 000 people, a whole political constituency…and these people are scattering to their villages in huge numbers even as I write now.

 

BDP does not care…they are still talking to the business community…what silliness! The economies of scale is disappearing, purchasing power is dying, and they are still talking to business…just who told them these disappointed people are going to stay in that wretched mess?

 

Who told them those who have already fled are coming back? What foolishness! Why does BDP despise workers so much? Can anything ever succeed in that town without the determined commitment of the people, of the communities, who built that town in the first place? Where is this madness coming from?


BDP will succeed only in one thing; further weakening of the businesses operating in that town; banks, retail shops, small businesses, transport operators, learning institutions and manufacturing plants. So far they have already succeeded in cutting the number of political constituencies from two to one, and by the time we get to the elections in 2019 that town will be just one of the small wards in that vast region…just imagine that? You think it won’t happen?

 

It will happen…mark my words, unless this madness stops and BDP reigns in this irritating appetite by imperial bureau to always appear like the only competent arbiter of social ills and tensions in public life. These people are so incompetent they can hardly manage their own departments. What really can they accomplish in Selibe-Phikwe?


I might be wrong about all this. But I have seen these things happening before. Other people may think…but this is Botswana. Everything is possible here…a typical languid African habit of dealing with serious national crisis. Buffoonery of all sorts is allowed to flourish.  I doubt though if these queer ideas of industry are agreeable and encouraging to those suffering people. To begin with they are too horribly startling. Second they are ridiculous to the extreme.

 

The most discerning, and therefore most utterly confounded amongst the people are already leaving. But they are not done with the BDP. Oh, no. Their judgement of this horrendous situation is much more philosophical, and tactical. Their response more political, and strategic.

 

I am thinking of moving to Selibe-Phikwe, permanently. As I said, the drama unfolding here is most instructive, and I love learning, from real life situations-every writer does. I even discern certain first principles dear to the merciless minds of youths cropping up here and there. The cries of astonishment and dismay are slowly dying, giving way to harsh, brittle laughter, and ferocious anger.


BDP and Government Enclave, as usual, have no heart to hear the sounds of weeping, and the gnashing of teeth. They are calmly talking voodoo economics…in curt, self-confident voices. Tender roots are being uprooted from the hearts and minds of a desperate people, whole lives are being wasted, thousands of brains are seething with arguments, and even the most ordinary town resident is sick with indignation…the spirit of progress and truth is being destroyed, for far too many people, and BDP functionaries sit in their offices, drinking coffee, and munching scones…talking voodoo economics.

 

They don’t want to hear unguarded expressions; they have no time for useless gatherings, and street corner murmurings. All is quiet on the Western front. They see not the broken lives, ruined, and robbed of hope. The miserable existences in some filthy hole of a room, the sordid bed of an understaffed  hospital, the misleading peace of bitter calmness, the horrible discord, the minds morphing into abject things, the fears of permanent endangerment…under their noises, these are anomalies. Collected-cool as cucumber, BDP functionaries eat toast with butter, talking about corrections…oh, boy, just where do these people get their souls? Is it possible people like these leave behind posterity? It’s just amazing how they take pride in their futile purpose.


When, really, will they start dealing with the consequences? For how long do they intend to continue refusing to confront reality? And this burden of unreality, just how long can it survive the God of Justice that is enshrined in the hearts and souls of all suffering human beings? Are they waiting for history to put fate to the test? Is that what they really want? No nation wants to endure the crisis of its fate. It’s weary work. All rational people work hard to avoid this, to strike a less costly bargain with fate.

 

This is the basis of political philosophy; the cornerstone of all rational political activity. Just what is BDP up to? I am not saying they should stop eating caviar. By all means gorge yourselves while you still have time. But national problems, we all know, cannot be solved simply by way of mental extravagance and arbitrary proceedings bothering on recklessness…what BDP calls mananeo.

 

BDP has reduced all poor people of Botswana to the disreputable position of being treated by the Office of the President and underling ministries as nothing short of beggars off duty. Is this what they want for the population of Selibe-Phikwe? A town this big, this literate, this politically active, cannot, and will not, be degraded to the lowest social depths of the hopeless and destitution, not without serious political consequences.

 

Selibe-Phikwe is going down, and its death throes reverberate resoundingly throughout the entire central district and beyond. This is one political failure BDP cannot, and will not, manage, to live down. Its death, if death it really turns out to be, cannot but presage the political death of BDP itself. Is this what the party really wants?


It might be time has come for real work to be done at both Government Enclave and Tsholetsa House. Digging their own grave is all right so far as vanity goes, but in pure political terms, it is, irreverently, a most foolish thing to do. Teedzani Thapelo* is winner of the Institute of International Education Fellowship Award, runner up winner of the 2016 Share Botswana Tourism Fiction Award, and former Distinguished Africa Guest Researcher at Nordic Africa Institute, Research Associate at the Centre for Economic Policy in Southern Africa, Economic History Lecturer at the University of Botswana, and author of Philosophy of Death and the Ruin of Selibe-Phikwe: andonment and revolt, forthcoming in 2018.    

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Botswana to Become a Vaccinated Nation: Pandemic Anxiety Over?

30th March 2021

OSCAR MOTSUMI

This is a question that should seriously exercise the mind of every Botswana citizen and every science researcher, every health worker and every political leader political.

The Covid-19 currently defines our lives and poses a direct threat to every aspect and every part of national safety, security and general well-being. This disease has become a normative part of human life throughout the world.

The first part of the struggle against the murderous depredation of this disease was to protect personal life through restrictive health injunctions and protocols; the worst possibly being human isolation and masks that hid our sorrows and lamentations through thin veils. We suffered that humiliation with grace and I believe as a nation we did a great job.

Now the vaccines are here, ushering us into the second phase of this war against the plague; and we are asking ourselves, is this science-driven fight against Covid-19 spell the end of pandemic anxiety? Is the health nightmare coming to an end? What happy lives lie ahead? Is this the time for celebration or caution? As the Non State Actors, we have being struggling with these questions for months.

We have published our thoughts and feelings, and our research reviews and thorough reading of both the local and international impacts of this rampaging viral invasion in local newspapers and social media platforms.

More significantly, we have successfully organised workshops about the impact of the pandemic on society and the economy and the last workshop invited a panel of health experts, professionals, and public administers to advance this social dialogue as part of our commitment to the tripartite engagement we enjoy working with Government of Botswana, Civil Society and Development partners. These workshops are virtual and open to all Batswana, foreign diplomatic missions based in Gaborone, UN agencies located in Gaborone and international academic researchers and professional health experts and specialists.

The mark of Covid-19 on our nation is a painful one, a tragedy shared by the entire human race, but still a contextually painful experience. Our response is fraught with grave difficulties; limited resources, limited time, and the urgency to not only save lives but also avert economic ruin and a bleak future for all who survive. Several vaccines are already in the  market.

Parts of the world are already doing the best they can to trunk the pestilential march of this disease by rolling out mass-vaccinations campaigns that promise to evict this health menace and nightmare from their public lives. Botswana, like much of Africa, is still up in the disreputable, and, unenviable, preventative social melee of masked interactions, metered distances, contactless commerce.

We remain very much at the mercy of a marauding virus that daily runs amuck with earth shattering implications for the economy and human lives. And the battle against both infections and transmissions is proving to be difficult, in terms of finance, institutional capacities and resource mobilization. How are we prepared as government, and as citizens, to embrace the impending mass-vaccinations? What are the chances of us  succeeding at this last-ditch effort to defeat the virus? What are the most pressing obstacles?

Does the work of vaccines spell an end to the pandemic anxieties?

Our panellists addressed the current state of mass-vaccination preparedness at the Botswana national level. What resources are available? What are the financial, institutional and administrative operational challenges (costs and supply chains, delivery, distribution, administering the vaccine on time, surveillance and security of vaccines?) What is being done to overcome them, or what can be done to overcome them? What do public assessments of preparedness tell us at the local community levels? How strong is the political will and direction? How long can we expect the whole exercise to last? At what point should we start seeing tangible results of the mass-vaccination campaign?

They also addressed the challenges of the anticipated emerging Vaccinated Society. How to fight the myths of vaccines and the superstitions about histories of human immunizations? What exactly is being done to grow robust local confidence in the science of vaccinations and the vaccines themselves? More significantly, how to square these campaigns vis-vis personal rights, moral/religious obligations?

What messages are being sent out in these regards and how are Batswana responding? What about issues of justice and equality? Will we get the necessary vaccines to everyone who wants them? What is being done to ensure no deserving person is left behind?

They also addressed issues of health data. To accomplish this mass-vaccination campaign and do everything right we need accurate and complete data. Poor data already makes it very hard to just cope with the disease. What is being done to improve data for the mass-vaccination campaign? How is this data being collected, aggregated and prepared for real life situation/applications throughout Botswana in the coming campaign?

We know in America, for example, general reporting and treatment of health data at the beginning of vaccinations was so poor, so chaotic and so scattered mainstream newspapers like The Atlantic, Washington Post and the New York Times had to step in, working very closely with civil society organizations, to rescue the situation. What data-related issues are still problematic in Botswana?

To be specific, what kind of Covid-19 data is being taken now to ready the whole country for an effective and efficient mass-vaccination program?

Batswana must be made aware that the  end part of vaccination will just mark the beginning of a long journey to health recovery and national redemption; that in many ways Covid-19 vaccination is just another step toward the many efforts in abeyance to fight this health pandemic, the road ahead is still long and painful.

For this purpose, and to highlight the significance of this observation we tasked our panellists with  the arduous imperative of  analysing the impact of mass-vaccination on society and the economy alongside the pressing issues of post-Covid-19 national health surveillance and rehabilitation programs.

Research suggests the aftermath of Covid-19 vaccination is going to be just as difficult and uncertain world as the present reality in many ways, and that caution should prevail over celebration, at least for a long time. The disease itself is projected to linger around for some time after all these mass-vaccination campaigns unless an effort is made to vaccinate everyone to the last reported case, every nation succeeds beyond herd immunity, and cure is found for Covid-19 disease. Many people are going to continue in need of medications, psychological and psychiatric services and therapy.

Is Botswana ready for this long holdout? If not, what path should we take going into the future? The Second concern is , are we going to have a single, trusted national agency charged with the  mandate to set standards for our national health data system, now that we know how real bad pandemics can be, and the value of data in quickly responding to them and mitigating impact? Finally, what is being done to curate a short history of this pandemic? A national museum of health and medicine or a Public Health Institute  in Botswana is overdue.

If we are to create strong sets of data policies and data quality standards for fighting future health pandemics it is critical that they find ideological and moral foundations in the artistic imagery and photography of the present human experience…context is essential to fighting such diseases, and to be prepared we must learn from every tragic health incident.

Our panellists answered most of these questions with distinguished intellectual clarity. We wish Batswana to join us in our second Mass-vaccination workshop.

*Oscar Motsumi: Email:oscar.motsumi@gmail.com

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The women you see in the news matter. Here’s why

9th March 2021
Jane Godia

Jane Godia

Today is International Women’s Day – it’s a moment to think about how much better our news diet could be if inequities were eliminated. In 1995, when the curtains fell in one of the largest meetings that have ever brought women together to discuss women in development, it was noted that women and media remain key to development.

Twenty-six years later, the relevant “Article J” of the Beijing Platform for Action, remains unfulfilled. Its two strategic objectives with regard to Women and Media have not been met. They are
Increase the participation and access of women to expression and decision-making in and through the media and new technologies of communication

Promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media.

Today, as we mark International Women’s Day, it’s an indictment on both media owners and civil society that women remain on the periphery of news-making. They cannot claim equal space in either the structures of newsrooms or in the content produced, be that as sources of news or as the subjects of reports. Indeed, the latest figures from WAN-IFRA’s Women in News Programme show just one in five voices in news belong to women*, be they as sources, as the author or as the main character of the news report.

Some progress was evident several years back, with stand-out women being named as chief executive officers, editors in chief, managing editors and executive editors. But these gains appear short lived in most media organisations. Excitement has turned to frustration as one-step forward has been replaced with three steps backwards. In Africa, the problem is acute. The decision-making tables of media organisations remain deprived of women and where there are women, they are surrounded by men.

Few women have followed in the footsteps of Esther Kamweru, the first woman managing editor in Kenya, and indeed sub-Saharan Africa. Today’s standout women editors include Pamela Makotsi-Sittoni (Nation Media Group, Kenya), Barbara Kaija (New Vision, Uganda), Mary Mbewe (Daily Nation, Zambia), Margaret Vuchiri (The Monitor, Uganda), Joyce Shebe (Clouds, Tanzania), Tryphinah Dongwana (Weekend Post, Botswana), Joyce Mhaville (Independent Television -ITV, Tanzania) and Tuma Abdallah (Standard Newspapers,Tanzania). But they remain an exception.

The lack of balance between women and men at the table of decision making has a rollback effect on the content that is produced. A table dominated by men typically makes decisions that benefit men.

So today, International Women’s Day is a grim reminder that things are not rosy in the news business. Achieving gender balance in news and in the structure of media organisations remains a challenge. Unmet, it sees more than half of the population in our countries suffer the consequences of bias, discrimination and sexism.

The business of ignoring the other half of the population can no longer be treated as normal. It’s time that media leaders grasp the challenge, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it also makes a whole lot of business sense: start covering women, give them space and a voice in news-making and propel them to all levels of decision making within your organisation.

We can no longer afford to imagine that it’s only men who make and sell the news and bring in the shillings to fund the media business. Women too are worthy newsmakers. In all of our societies, there are women holding decision making positions and who are now experts in once male-only domains such as engineers, doctors, scientists and researchers.

They can be deliberately picked out to share their perspectives and expertise and bring balance to the profile of experts quoted on our news pages. Media is the prism through which society sees itself and women are an untapped audience. So, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us embrace diversity, which yields better news content and business products, and in so doing eliminate sexism. We know that actions and attitudes that discriminate against people based on their gender is bad for business.

As media, the challenge is ours. We need to consciously embrace and reach the commitments made 26 years ago when the Beijing Platform for Action was signed globally. As the news consuming public, you have a role to play too. Hold your news organization to account and make sure they deliver balanced news that reflects the voices of all of society.

Jane Godia is a gender development and media expert who serves as the Africa Director of Women in News programme.  
WOMEN IN NEWS is WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media. www.womeninnews.org

Jane Godia, Director, Africa, Women in News

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Why is the media so afraid to talk about sexual harassment?

9th March 2021

MELANIE WALKER

The eve of International Women’s Day presents an opportunity for us to think about gender equality and the long and often frustrating march toward societies that are truly equal.

As media, we are uniquely placed to drive forward this reflection and discussion. But while focusing on the challenges of gender in society, we owe it to our staff and the communities we serve to also take a hard look at the obstacles within our own organisations.

I’m talking specifically about the scourge of sexual harassment. It’s likely to have happened in your newsroom. It has likely happened to a member of your team. It happens to all genders but is disproportionately directed at women. It happens in every industry, regardless of country, culture or context. This is because sexual harassment is driven by power, not sex. Wherever you have imbalances in power, you have individuals who are at risk of sexual harassment, and those who abuse this power.

I’ve been sexually harassed. The many journalists and editors, friends and family members who I have spoken to over the years on this subject have also been harassed. Yet it is still hard for leaders to recognize that this could be happening within their newsrooms and boardrooms. Why does it continue to be such a taboo?

Counting the cost of sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is, simply put, bad for business. It can harm your corporate reputation. It is a drain on the productivity of staff and managers. Maintaining and building trust in your brand is an absolute imperative for media organisations globally. If and when a case gets out of control or is badly handled – this can directly impact your bottom line.

It is for this reason that WAN-IFRA Women in News has put eliminating sexual harassment as a top priority in our work around gender equality in the media sector. This might seem at odds with the current climate where social interactions are fewer and remote work scenarios are in place in many newsrooms and businesses. But one only needs to tune into the news to know that the abuse of power, manifested as verbal, physical or online harassment, is alive and well.

Preliminary results from an ongoing Women in News research study into the issue of sexual harassment polling hundreds of journalists in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia indicate that more than 1 in 3 women media professionals have been physically harassed, and just under 50% have been verbally harassed. Just over 15% of men in African newsrooms reported being physically harassed, and slightly less than 1 in 4 reports being verbally harassed. The numbers for male media professionals in Southeast Asia are slightly higher than a quarter on both forms of harassment.

The first step in confronting sexual harassment is to talk about it. We need to strip away the stigma and discomfort around having open conversations about what sexual harassment is and isn’t. Media managers, it is entirely in your power to create dynamics in your own teams that are free from sexual harassment.

Publishers and CEOs, you set the organisational culture in your media company.

By being vocal in recognising that it happens everywhere, and communicating to your employees that you will not tolerate sexual harassment of any kind, you send a powerful message to your teams, and publicly. With these actions, you will help us overcome the legacy of silence around this topic, and in doing so take an important first step to create media environments that truly embrace equality.

Melanie Walker is Executive Director of Media Development of the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). She is a creator of Women in News, WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media. www.womeninnews.org

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