The mainstreaming of women’s voices may have some way to go, but progress is being made despite challenges. 

While more women’s voices are present in the media, the work of making these voices the norm is apparently decades away. In a presentation, panellist and managing editor of Dataphyte, Adenike Aloba, said, all things remaining equal, it will take at least 67 years to eliminate the average gender gap in traditional news media. 

Adenike Aloba was part of a panel titled, “Mainstreaming women’s voices in investigative reporting” on the first day of the 2022 African Investigative Journalism Conference (AIJC). The conference is in its 18th year and brings together leading investigative journalists and trainers from across the continent.

From left to right: Sandrine Sawadogo, Motunrayo Famuyiwa-Alaka, Adenike Aloba, Catherine Gicheru Photo: Tannur Anders

Aloba added that it is important for journalists to check both their conscious and unconscious biases when writing stories. This can be achieved by pulling together a “diverse team” in which angles and questions can be bounced off of and missing ones added. 

During the panel held at Wits University’s Science Stadium, panellist and director of Africa Women Journalism Project, Catherine Gicheru, said relationships with male counterparts need to be built to assist in amplifying women’s perspectives. She refers to men who support the mainstreaming of women’s voices as “honorary women”.  

Attendee, Zubaida Ismail, who runs an independent newsroom in Ghana, said having women in the newsroom is important but not the only thing you need. Her newsroom employs 10 reporters, only one of which is a woman. Despite this gender gap, she ensures that male reporters receive gender sensitivity training. 

Sandrine Sawadogo, an investigative journalist and panellist, said women still fear being exposed, both as sources and journalists. Using her own experiences as examples, she pointed to how her work has been maliciously misconstrued and used to sully her name in her personal life.  

Montunrayo Famuyiwa-Alaka, a panellist and executive director of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism, has also faced the challenge of women who are experts’ unwillingness to speak to her for similar reasons. 

Projects currently doing the work of privileging and promoting women’s voices from varied professions include QuoteThisWoman+ and Interruptrr Africa.

FEATURED IMAGE: A banner with the African Investigative Journalism logo. Photo: Salena Fourie