Amplifying female legislators’ voices noble idea – minister

By Nhau Mangirazi

MAKONDE– Media has been commended for its role in amplifying female Members of Parliament (MPs) in its thrust for a balanced gender community, giving equal opportunities to policymakers, a government minister has said.

Speaking in an interview here, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing deputy minister Jennifer Mhlanga welcomed the latest media coverage of female MPs though a lot needs to be done.

‘I can safely say we appreciate how the media is writing stories about female MPs and giving their opinions of issues of national importance without bias. We have seen a slight improvement on how the media is writing about female MPs and it’s a positive move. Of great note is how some of the female MPs have been given a chance to comment on issues that affect us socially and economically and given the platform in both mainstream and private media,’ she added.

Mhlanga said although she was not abreast on statistics to fully justify her comments, the latest indications were that female MPs were getting a fair share of coverage around the country.

‘Some female MPs had no chance to have a story written about what they can say about issues including economy, health, food security, child marriages unless they were chairperson of portfolio committees. For a five year term, she could not be heard in the press saying anything from her constituency unless if hosting Government function but now many are making comments independently as they building thrust and confidence with the journalists. We welcome this partnership where development issues are published,’ she said.

Mhlanga noted that it is becoming better that their male counterparts who overshadowed female MPs are now ‘feeling the heat’

She added, ‘The media has been welcoming comments from female MPs as equal players in rebuilding our nation together without gender bias. We are happy that our voices are now being heard through the media. This motivates us to justify our role in the august house where policies are formulated. This does not mean to say that media can’t be critical to female MPs shortcomings as we accept constructive criticism,’ she added.

Her comment follows an ‘overdrive’ by different media houses that are publishing stories with female MPs as primary or secondary sources on national issues including the national budget, maternal health, food security, climate change, environment among others.

This comes against the backdrop of training of some journalists by Gender Media Connect in its thrust to give female MPs a chance to be heard of their work in developmental issues.

The training held under  Getting a Gender Balance, Increasing Media Coverage of Female MPs theme is driving publicity of female legislators.