Zimbabwe is on the right track if it sticks to its decision to ensure gender equality in the appointment boards for parastatals and state enterprises which have been rocked by reports of rampant corruption.
A study by the China Europe International Business School says having more women on boards reduces fraud.
The study which looked at 1 422 instances of fraud in Chinese companies over a 10-year period found strong evidence that the more –male dominated the board, the higher the likelihood of fraud.
Women suffered less from overconfidence than men and were more risk averse.
The study said not only was a greater female presence a protection against fraud, but the response from the market to fraud when it did arise from a gender diverse board as significantly less pronounced.
Deputy Information Minister Supa Mandiwanzira said last week that the government had advised all parastatals and state enterprises that they must, with immediate effect, appoint boards with gender at the height of the attention and these boards must reflect gender parity in line with the new Constitution.
“I am very happy to advise Senator Chimbudzi that, the current Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation Board reflects in a meaningful way, the drive towards addressing this matter which in turn will reflect in decisions that will be taken by the senior managers at ZBC. The recently installed board has five female and five male board members, excluding the chairman. The previous board had one woman,” he said in response to a question by Alice Chimbudzi who had asked what the government was doing to address the gap between male and female journalists.
“Zimpapers has three females in top management whilst nine are males. At ZiFM, there are five women and four men in top management. The most important thing is also to encourage our training institutions to begin to attract more women that can train as journalists.”
Mandiwanzira said that the government-owned Zimbabwe Newspapers employed more women journalists and provided them better opportunities than the privately-owned media.
The study said that the optimal representation for women on boards was 50 percent.
GAP BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN JOURNALISTS9.
SENATOR CHIMBUDZI asked the Deputy Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services to outline to the House the plans Government has put in place to close the gap between men and women journalists in this country?
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF INFORMATION, MEDIA AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (MR. MANDIWANZIRA): I wish to thank the Hon. Senator Chimbudzi for the question. In fact, I must thank her because I think on almost every case of Questions With Notice, she is the one who always has issues around the media. I must thank you for that interest in the media and on seeking clarity on Government’s plans to close the “gap between men and women journalists in this country”.
Mr. President, Government and particularly the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services are alive to the founding principles of our new Constitution. These founding principles do particularly place value and principle on the issue of gender balance in our country. Of course, the Constitution also obliges the State to promote the full participation of women in all spheres of the Zimbabwean economy and society on the basis of equality with men, the media industry and journalism as a profession is actually no exception.
We are aware that it is a very competitive market in terms of employment to get into the media industry and as a result, when employers are employing journalists, they do not apply the aspect of gender. They are just looking at the best skills that are available because it is a competitive market and it becomes very difficult to implement something where you have to demand a quota. However, because of the new Constitution, we now expect that our media industry will be alive to that expectation.
Because of your question, Senator Chimbudzi, we actually looked around at the information available in terms of women who were actually employed in the media industry or who own media institutions. There is a research that was done by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Zimbabwe Union of Journalists and Gender Links among others, which actually show that the media industry in Zimbabwe is predominantly owned by men and that the players, the journalists in this industry are predominantly male.
According to MISA, men are assigned to hard news stories and women cover soft beats like beauty, fashion, gender inequality and entertainment stories. How does one change that stereotyping approach in our newsrooms overnight? Some media houses defend themselves by pointing out to the area of skills deficiency among women in the profession and argue that the disproportionate representation does not represent male stereotyping but is a reflection of the female skills deficit in the industry as a whole. On the part of Government, the National Gender Policy (2013 – 2017) promoted equal access to, control and ownership of media by men and women to enhance gender parity across all sectors.
Government has adopted the SADC Protocol on Gender Development. The protocol seeks to achieve a 50% representation of women in all areas of decision making by 2015. The media is one of the areas where that target has to be achieved. The protocol further calls for the mainstreaming of gender in media laws, policies and training. It urges the media to give equal voice to women and men, challenge gender stereotypes and ensure balance and sensitivity in coverage.
According to Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre Network (ZWRCN), the inception of the gender policy saw the country’s largest media house such as Zimbabwe Newspapers, announcing the introduction of its gender policy to address gender disparities both in terms of content and staffing. The ZWRCN further states that many journalists with experience in both private and public media confirm that Zimpapers actually has better working conditions for female journalists compared to some private or independent media houses. Several women have been promoted to various editorial positions. As such, stories of human welfare, children, vulnerable and marginalised groups have found their way into even the most revered newspapers. ……….
Hon. senators will recall that Government recently issued a statement advising that all parastatals and State owned enterprises must, with immediate effect, appoint boards with gender at the height of the attention and these boards must reflect gender parity and in line with the new Constitution. I am very happy to advise Senator Chimbudzi that, the current Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation Board reflects in a meaningful way, the drive towards addressing this matter which in turn will reflect in decisions that will be taken by the senior managers at ZBC. The recently installed board has five female and five male board members, excluding the chairman. The previous board had one woman.
Zimpapers has three females in top management whilst nine are males. At ZiFM, there are five women and four men in top management. The most important thing is also to encourage our training institutions to begin to attract more women that can train as journalists.
We are encouraging as a Ministry, that all media training institutions allow for more enrolment of females so that they can be more women in the media industry. When we heard the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe inviting applications for licenses of new radio stations, we also went out in the media to encourage all Zimbabweans, especially women to apply for these licenses. Unfortunately, not many women applied for these licenses, if at all, that the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe is currently looking at.
Mr. President, let me assure hon. senators that Government is committed to correcting stereotyping policies that continue to perpetuate gender disparity in the media industry at all levels of both ownership and employment. In this national endeavour, we are guided and remain alive to the dictates of our current Constitution. Hon. senators will also recall that in December last year, my Ministry appointed a Panel of Inquiry into the Information and Media Sector and yesterday, that Panel of Inquiry met for the first time to set in motion the inquiry process. Part of their mandate is to look at the issue of gender balance in the media and what is stopping more participation by women in the media. We are expecting that at the end of July, this panel will have concluded its work and will bring forward to the Ministry recommendations on what can be done to address that particular matter among many others. We hope, we can then come up with a solution that will address this deplorable situation where we have a very small number of women participating in terms of ownership and journalism itself in our industry itself.