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Social acceptance of Burkina Faso’s women in media still low

01.06.2018 - Article

A press study carried out in cooperation with DW Akademie reveals that women in the media have a hard time in Burkina Faso's male dominated society - even harder than in other industries.

Country manager Carine Debrabandère and the team of CNP-NZ presenting the study in Ouagadougou.
Country manager Carine Debrabandère and the team of CNP-NZ presenting the study in Ouagadougou.© DW/J. Elvers-Guyot

"Journalism is one of the most difficult professions for women," said Diallo Abdoulaye, head of the Centre National de Presse Norbert Zongo (CNP-NZ) in Ouagadougou, when study results were released.

Most of the problems arise from the fact that women's visibility and independence are not encouraged. Furthermore, journalists must be flexible and be willing to work at night and on weekends. Travel is also required in many cases. This means that women cannot run a household or take care of their family as expected of women in Burkina Faso.

Women who resist these constraints and decide to work are looked down on. In the media industry, they frequently encounter stereotyping and discrimination. According to the study, husbands are usually opposed to wives pursuing journalistic careers. "My in-laws advised my husband to marry a second wife because I come home late and rarely cook," said a journalist from Radio Lutte Contre la Désertification in Djibo in the Islamic north of the country.

Only one in four positions in the media is held by a woman

In this third study on press freedom, the focus is on women for the first time. CNP-NZ researchers used the International Research and Exchanges Board’s (IREX) tool to evaluate the media sector. Along with other factors, legal aspects, the quality of journalism and media management practices were examined. The professional situation of women in media received a score of 1.34 out of four points based on IREX.

In the study, the CNP-NZ examined 140 of the 237 media companies operating in Burkina Faso. Of the 1,030 journalists working in the country, twenty-five percent are women. Women hold 50 percent or more of the positions in only 12 of the companies investigated in the study. In television, radio and print media, only 5.24 percent of management positions are held by women.

Overall, press freedom in Burkina Faso deteriorated slightly in 2016, scoring 2.43 points in 2015 compared to 2.37 points in 2017. The decline is mainly the consequence of terrorist attacks in which dozens of people have been killed. Freedom of press has also been affected by political tensions. Nonetheless, Burkina Faso still ranks 42 out of 180 in the 2017 Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index.

For the first time, the study focussed on women in the media industry
For the first time, the study focussed on women in the media industry© DW/J. Elvers-Guyot

The study encourages the fight for press freedom

"Although things are looking up for press freedom, much remains to be done and achievements must be consolidated," said Diallo Abdoulaye of the Centre National de Presse Norbert Zongo.

"The new data from the study will enable us to evaluate the impact of our work. This encourages us to continue fighting for press freedom," he explained.

The study conducted by CNP-NZ and DW Akademie was particularly important for Burkina Faso because the country is not among the 31 countries for which the Germany’s Friedrich Ebert foundation is creating the African Media Barometer. "The publication of the study is attracts a lot of attention in Burkina Faso every year. It is an honor for DW Akademie to work with CNP-NZ," said Carine Debrabandère, the country manager Burkina for Faso at DW Akademie. "The press center helps make the media landscape there one of the most dynamic ones on the African continent."

© DW Akademie

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