The Wits Centre for Journalism (WCJ) and African Women in Media (AWiM) are pleased to announce the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to enhance their common goals of creating enabling environments for African women who work in media industries, and changing the way African women are represented in media content.

The MOU was concluded between the two organisations after recognising the pressing need to advance the development of women in the media by providing training opportunities and platforms to amplify the voices of women on the continent.

According to the most recent edition of the Global Media Monitoring Project (2020), women only represent 22% of those seen, heard, and read about in African news stories. Africa is also the only region where this figure has stagnated over a 25-year period, while the rest of the world has improved (although not by much).

The low reportage of critical issues relating to gender violence in the news has also translated to the media normalising this epidemic, which is of particular concern.

Meanwhile, the 2022 Global Gender Gap Report shows that sub-Saharan Africa registered its highest gender gap score in 16 years, and at the present rate of progress, it would take 98 years to close this gap in the region. The work of both the WCJ and AWiM focuses on redressing these gendered gaps and omissions.

“This MOU is more than timely. It is an organic coalescence of two organisations which see women as a driving force of social growth and development,” says Dr Dinesh Balliah, director of the WCJ.

“The WCJ places a special emphasis on the development of women in journalism and media across the continent. This MOU will pave the way for an expansion of our work in this area and in reaching more women in Africa through our educational and project platforms.”

Balliah was also a co-author of AWiM’s Kigali Declaration on Media and Gender Violence launched in December 2023. The Declaration sets out minimum requirements for media practitioners, academics, CSOs and government in the reporting of gender violence in and through the media.

“We are thrilled to have formed this very important partnership. Our aim at AWiM is to support an enabling environment for gender equality in and through media, and capacity building and research are fundamental aspects of this,” says AWiM CEO and Co-Founder, Dr Yemisi Akinbobola. “We look forward to a fruitful relationship with the Wits Centre for Journalism as we join forces to achieve this vision.”

AWiM is a non-governmental organisation based in Nigeria that seeks to positively influence the way media functions in relation to African women. Its core mission is gender equality in and through media, and this is done through various products such as AWiMNews, a niche news website that seeks to be the world gender desk when it comes to reporting from a gendered perspective in Africa; SourceHer!, an online database of African female experts across all industries; and AWiMLearning, its online knowledge and learning platform.

The WCJ is one of the leading journalism and media training institutions in Africa, with a history spanning more than two decades. Situated within the School of Literature, Language and Media at Wits University in Johannesburg, the WCJ has become a leading provider of quality post-graduate teaching, thought leadership and practical engagement within the changing world of journalism, research and training.