1. Are women politicians less visible or covered differently than men in political news coverage in your country? Please share data, if available
While there is no available statistically verified data for how women in politics are covered in Uganda, there is evidence daily that women politicians attract media attention differently. This week the media has found fodder in Uganda 'exposing' the disagreement between The Speaker of Parliament- a female and The Prime Minister - also a female over their perspectives on whether nyege-nyege, a public even should be allowed to go on or not. The core of the public debate is on the morality of the event. The debate in the public realm is based on the argument that the nyege nyege event promotes immorality and should be banned, and this is the idea espoused by the Speaker and other MPs. On the other hand, the Prime Minister thinks that the even promotes Tourism and was convinced by the organisers to allow the event to go on. The morality versus immorality debate descended from the focus on the event, to the individual characteristics and personalities of the two women and they have been attacked and ridiculed on social media over this matter. The male supporters of either sides of the debate are not being attacked in the same way. In this way, we can see that the media is still very petty and focuses on stereotypes of gender when it comes to discussing issues of public interest such as this. Uganda Media Women's Association did a research on Ugandan women politicians after the 2016 elections and found that such stereotypes of women were many. May women candidates were judged more as women first, than as public, political leaders.
2.What can lawmakers, governments, and civil society do to ensure media outlets/journalists deliver fair and balanced media coverage of women and men in public life?
There is need to sensitise journalists to be conscious of the effects of their gender stereotypical representations, words, attitude and perspectives on the public. The public also needs to be constantly reminded of the negative effects of gender stereotyping and how it sniffles women's ability to discuss matters of public importance. This is because, the more women are ridiculed, the more they withdraw from public debate and the marginalisation of views that promote equality go on.
3.With sexist traditional media coverage disseminated on social media, women in politics are exposed to vicious online attacks and abuse by often anonymous perpetrators. What can social media companies, media outlets, governments, lawmakers, and other decision-makers do to put an end to the crisis of online violence against women in politics?
media companies should sensitive their journalists especially the news editors to be gender aware so that negative stereotypes are not allowed on radio, newspapers and Television. Governments nd law makers should make laws and enforce punishments for those who are known to perpetually ridicule and marginalise women on media. While laws that protect women's and men's rights to freedom of expression exist in Uganda, there is limited enforcement of the laws when they are violated. If Police can be empowered o cause arrests and the courts of laws can punish such offenders, then people will begin to see such violations as bad and punishable. Otherwise for now, people think on-line violence is flimsy and worth ignoring and yet the emotional toll it has on victims is enormous.
In a recent study we did with Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET), we found that Online Gender Based Vilence (OGBV) tends to be normalised and taken as 'light' and yet some victims are really adversely affected. Some women politicians lost in elections because they spoke up when they were violated. A case in point is Hon. Rwabogo who was violated by a young male stalker. Not only was her case dismissed by the courts of law. In the public court of political voting, she was made to lose elections and one of the reasons flaunted by the public was that, she took young man to court over a flimsy issue. Talk of the vicim being victimised. Rwabogo lost in the elections.