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My Voice, my Life

I find Web 2.0 exciting because it offers me the rare chance to tell my stories to the world without going through the normal processes of the traditional media. I’m a sub editor with a Kenyan newspaper and has seen stories go through different hands from the writer to the revise editor for years. At times an idea is misinterpreted and the end story turns out to be something the writer can hardly recognise.
At Web 2.0 where I’m the writer, the editor and the publisher, I have the guarantee that my story will be read just as I wanted. Then there are times when I write an article on something I’m passionate about but the editor kills it or slashes it down to a brief because of lack of space. I’m glad that at Web 2.0, there are acres and acres of space and I can tell a new story everyday. Another good thing is that I don’t have to send a proposal to anyone to give me go ahead to write a story. I’ll work uncensored, unrestrained and without limits.
Women’s voices are barely audible in the world because they hardly have space in the traditional media. A scan through Kenya’s daily newspapers shows that about 95 percent of news subjects are men and about 75 per cent of the journalists are males. Women’s issues have been relegated to weekly columns to feign gender balance. Web 2.0 empowers women by giving them a forum to tell their stories their way. Men rarely identify with issues that affect us so we are the best people to tell our own stories.
Women may have made big strides to become part of news writers but very few are in decision making positions within media houses. Consequently, decisions on what runs in the newspapers and aired on TV and radio are made by men. I wish more Kenyan women joined Pulsewire so more stories considered non-stories in the media can make headlines across the world.
Our journalists have never learnt to treat men and women equally when writing news. For example when a female MP is the news subject, they refer her as a “woman MP” and when its a man, he is just an MP. And if a group of thugs is arrested and there happens to be woman among them, you won’t miss this line “.......including a woman”. It is as though we are yet to accept that what a man can do, good or bad, a woman can also do. It is male chauvinism that seeps through our news in subtle ways every day. This kind of discrimination is out of Web.2 where ordinary women tell their stories from their hearts.
I’ve already lined up stories for publishing in my Pulsewire blog, Rauka, and I’m glad that mine is yet another voice set to be heard across the world. And though I may not have my way on all the issues affecting me as a woman, I’ll definitely have my say.

Comments

William62's picture

My Voice, my Life

As I was reading your piece, I starting making notes to ask you to write about how women in your country will work to
address the root causes of the inequalities, disparities and diverse forms of exclusion and discrimination? I want to encourage you to continue to build your network of eliminate the gender gap in as many sectors of life as you can.

You have what it takes to help achieve successful outcomes against MDG Goal 3 - PROMOTING GENDER EQUALITY AND EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN. As you note Web 2.0 is a powerful platform that must be expanded.

Keep up the good work.

viochan's picture

Tell me more...

Reading your post reminds me of my own country's biases and prejudices - toward women, children, the elderly, the foreign - and not just in journalism but in everyday life. Most people go about their day, concerned only about their immediate realities - their home, their work, their families. Few people have the time or the interest to worry about the rest of the world.

But you, Wairimu, are speaking out. You are using your skills and your voice to bring awareness to others! And that is wonderful. "The first step in solving a problem is recognizing that it exists." But is it enough? While pointing out issues takes effort, solving them takes commitment and courage. So tell me more about that. I want to know your ideas about solving these issues. I want to hear you talk about using Web 2.0 to help others speak up and speak out. Tell me more about using that incredible passion of yours to eliminating injustice from journalism in Kenya!

In short, I want to hear your story, Wairimu. I'm sure it's a story full of fire, but also full of desire to do good things for the world. Tell me more...

Violeta

Ladybug's picture

Reflection on "My Voice, My Life"

I really enjoyed reading your piece, Wairimu.

It's clear your professional experience as a sub-editor for a newspaper has granted you a unique personal perspective on the destructive role of censorship in popular media and how that reinforces gender inequality.

You clearly explain the struggle to have your own voice be heard within the existing male-dominated power structure and present a compelling argument for the importance of a platform like Web 2.0.

However, to echo what Violeta wrote above, I encourage you to delve a bit deeper to identify potential solutions to the problem you so thoughtfully presented. I would be interested in learning more about how specifically you would exercise your leadership skills to mobilize other women to have their voices be heard.

Great work!

Catherine

Wairimu Michengi's picture

Thanks guys for expressing

Thanks guys for expressing confidence in me. I believe problems facing women in the media can be solved, more so by the women themselves. I'm not a strong believer of affirmative action, especially when it comes to the media.
The media in Kenya is largely owned by private companies whose key bottom line is profits. The media owners will always go for the best, regardless of their gender. We have to take an initiative as women to break the barriers in the media.
Aggressiveness and persistence are two things I stress to upcoming women journalists. Its so sad women are still going to journalism schools with a hope that someone will put them behind the microphone or in front of the cameras to read news at the end of their training.
Save for the very talented few, a big number of us have to roll up our hems and venture into dirty slum streets and muddy villages in search of stories. I was in a class of eight women and seven men in college. I see and hear the men reporting on various radio and TV stations everyday. But I don't know where the women are.
We need to empower women journalists while they are still in college. They need to know no one will give them way, they'll have to push their way to the microphone.I always go to my former college to speak to the girls on how to make their voices heard. With more capacity, I'd want to reach out to students in all colleges and universities. I will also introduce Web 2.0 to them so they can post their stories that have never been heard. I believe this is where revolution starts.

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