SADC raises concerns over gender gap in media coverage and online gender abuse

The SADC Parliamentary Forum in Arusha, Tanzania, raised concerns about gender disparity in mainstream media reporting and online gender-based abuse.

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The Regional Women’s Parliamentary Caucus (Women’s Caucus) to the 53rd Southern African Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary Forum raised concern about the disparity in reporting issues impacting women in the mainstream media and online gender-based abuse and harassment. The SADC Protocol on Gender and Development is organized around four primary pillars: gender mainstreaming, including women in the political process, discrimination based on gender, and achieving economic independence for women.

Regina Esparon, Chairperson of the Regional Women’s Parliamentary Caucus from Seychelles, presented a report on the theme ‘Leveraging Social Media to Advance Women’s Political Participation in the SADC Region,’ which discussed the benefits and drawbacks of using social media platforms for lobbying and communication. It was highlighted that the Women’s Caucus encouraged SADC political women to use social media but warned them about the risk of internet abuse.

South African MP Kate Bilankulu supports the Women’s Caucus proposal to address the limits and risks of social media, arguing that media coverage of women’s activities is unbalanced when compared to men’s activities; as a result, she is urging SADC MPs to use digital platforms to publish compelling stories, and she is calling for greater access to digital technology.