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Tanzania’s Women Journalists Share Tales of Travails And Triumphs

Organised by a media and tech startup Kike Africa, the journalists discussed issues of interest to them, from online safety to digital entrepreneurship.

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Dar es Salaam. Women journalists gathered here on Friday to share their tales of travails and triumphs as part of the global commemoration of International Women’s Day, which this year is taking place under the theme ‘Investing in women: Accelerate Progress.’

Meeting under the auspices of Kike Africa, an emerging female-owned tech and media company that seeks to tell women’s stories in innovative ways, the journalists, which included employed ones and those running their own initiatives, discussed the precarious condition they find themselves in and ways to achieve breakthroughs.

They discussed issues ranging from sexual harassment that women journalists frequently face online and the threat of fake news that they warned each other to be careful about to sexual harassment and corruption in newsrooms and the threats and opportunities that Artificial Intelligence offers to journalists.

Speakers during the event, which took place at the Buni Hub, within the Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) premises in Dar es Salaam, included veteran photojournalist Faraja Kihongole, celebrated sports journalist Prisca Kishamba, founder of Neurotech Africa Kalebu Gwalugano, and content marketing specialist Baraka Mafole, among many others.

Opening the event, Kike Africa co-founder Khadija Mahanga said the occasion sought to honour the achievements and contributions of women in Tanzania’s media industry, particularly through the transformative power of data and technology.

READ MORE: Tanzania’s Newsrooms Are Increasingly Becoming Dangerous for Women Journalists

“Our initiatives [at Kike Africa] focus on harnessing the power of technology, advocating for creativity, and fostering entrepreneurship skills through our coding and data hub,” Mahanga, a software developer, said. 

She added, “We firmly believe that by empowering the next generation of tech and media professionals, we can drive innovation, diversity, and excellence in these fields.”

Nancy Angulo, Head of the Communication and Information Programme at UNESCO Dar es Salaam, gave a keynote speech at the event, which attracted about 100 participants. 

Nancy Angulo, Head of the Communication and Information Programme at UNESCO Dar es Salaam, giving a keynote speech at the 2024 Kike Media Festival. PHOTO | KIKE AFRICA.

She invited participants, which inluded journalism students, to reflect on the emerging media ecosystem in Tanzania and globally and consider whether they have what it takes to participate.

Ms Angulo emphasised the importance of journalists investing in knowledge and skill acquisition, saying it is only through such a process that journalists, especially women, can overcome their barriers.

“We live our realities every day,” said Ms Angulo at the event sponsored by the Embassy of Sweden, Bumaco Insurance, and Buni Hub. “As experts of our own situations, we must lead, guide, and initiate the actions and partnerships we need to move from where we are to where we want to be.”

READ MORE: Study Paints Gloomy Picture for Tanzania’s Journalists

She urged journalists to be aware of the new era within which they operate, an era defined by the power of data, the influence of the media and the imperative of inclusion. 

“To keep up with the trends, we must invest in and harness the data-driven approach,” Ms Angulo explained. “Using data to inform policies and solutions must first overcome significant gaps in availability, accessibility, utilisation, and stability.”

Yvonne Kigano, a programs and impact lead from Tech & Media Convergency (TMC), a Dar es Salaam-based ICT consultancy firm, shared strategies women journalists can apply to navigate online sexual harassment, which has been proven to be widespread in Tanzania.

“One strategy that we normally urge journalists to apply is to be truthful in their reporting,” said Ms Kigano, whose organisation documents incidents of online sexual harassment incidents. “When the information is truthful, it minimises the level of harassment, and even when harassed, other people will come to your defence.”

She also urged women journalists to be confident, which she said would prevent them from being easily bullied and intimidated. But most importantly, Kigano told journalists to be mindful of their mental health, as their job depends on their mental stability and peace.

READ MORE: Bariadi DC Simon Simalenga Criticised After Kicking Journalists Out of Key Meeting

During the event, women journalists shared opportunities available in the digital space, encouraging each other to grasp them both in the process of telling their stories and those of their communities and in increasing their personal income.

Veronica Mrema, an award-winning health journalist, urged her fellow women journalists not to be afraid to establish their own independent media ventures. She said that it is possible to gain recognition even without working within established media organisations.

She gave an example of herself with her blog, Matukio na Maisha, which she said not only gave her an award but also brought her recognition and respect within Tanzania’s media sector, which she wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else.

“We must evaluate our capacities and passions,” Ms Mrema told participants. “Once we establish them, we should follow them. We should do things that will bring us the respect we need. It is possible.”

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