Local sports reporters were recently taken through the basics of Gender Sensitive reporting in a workshop hosted by Women and Sport Botswana (WASBO).
Among the topics discussed were how women and men are portrayed in sports coverage, Media Gender Code of Ethics and avoiding problematic gender biased words.
In her presentation, gender expert, Valencia Mogegeh said there continues to be an imbalance in the quality and quantity of sports coverage of sports women compared to that of men.
She said statistics claim that 40% of all sports participants are women, yet women’s sports receive only around 4% of all media coverage. Mogegeh said of that limited coverage, women are often objectified or demeaned.
“It is critical that the news reflects the world as seen through the eyes of women as well as men. All journalists, both female and male can play a role in changing attitudes to women and gender-based stereotypes,” she said.
Mogegeh said sports coverage is hugely powerful in shaping norms and stereotypes about gender and media has the ability to challenge these norms through promotion of a balanced coverage and a fair portrayal of sportspeople, irrespective of gender.
“Media tend to represent women athletes as women first and athletes second,” noted Mogegeh.
She said coverage of women in sports is often dominated by references to appearance, age or family life, whereas men are depicted as powerful, independent, dominating, and valued as athletes.
She also bemoaned the relatively small number of female sports journalists, which is a norm across the world.
WASBO Vice Chairperson Shikha Trivedi also warned that if left unchecked media can influence and create public opinion and a wrong message can lead into creating stereotypes.
Trivedi further revealed that they’ve partnered with Mentorship for Excellence International for female athletes with disability which will be starting this July. She said they’ll also include male athletes with disability, as they appreciate the impact Covid-19 has had on different groups including the marginalised.
“This initiative is aimed at mitigating the impact,” she said.
“We are also working on sexual harassment policy which is expected to be adopted by all sporting codes in Botswana,” said Trivedi.