Distinguished Executive Secretary of the Media high Council;

The Chairperson of the Association of Female Journalists;

Distinguished representatives of various media houses here present;

Distinguished Journalists here present;

My dear UN/UNDP colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen;

All protocol observed;

Allow me to start by saying to you all: MWIRIWE! GOOD AFTERNOON.

It gives me great pleasure and honor to be here today at the occasion of the closure of the training on life skills for women empowerment within the media sector which was organized by the Media High Council in partnership with the Association of Female Journalists (ARFEM) and UNDP. Let me at the outset express my profound gratitude to the Media High Council and ARFEM for championing this great initiative which reaffirms Rwanda’s commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment across all the sectors of governance and development.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The UN believes that the media is an important actor in promoting inclusive and accountable governance which are the pre-requisite for sustainable development. At Global level, the Agenda 2030 is not silent on Access to information. The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 16 on Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) encourages countries to “Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements”. This global commitment was made a few years after Rwanda initiated the media reforms which started with the revised 2012 media law followed by the promulgation of the Access to Information Law as well as the creation of media self- regulation body in year 2013. The reforms resulted, among others, in the increase of the number of private media especially in the broadcasting sector.

However, despite the commendable advances in building a strong and professional media, gender equality and women empowerment remains a challenging area for this sector. There are persisting challenges including imbalances in terms of women and men empowerment and inclusion. The recently published report on the State of Gender equality in Rwanda, launched in March 2019, shows that there is uneven representation of men and women in the media sector with 75.5% of male accredited journalists versus 24,5% of female, 87,6% of male chief editors versus 12.4% of female chief editors, 85,9% of male owners of media houses versus 14.1% of female owning media houses. However, while women representation and women voice in the media can be lagging behind, we also noticed some progress over the past years. Statistics indicate that the media sector had only 2 media houses owned by women in 2012 in Rwanda and steadily increased over the previous years to 10 in 2016. Currently, the sector counts 18 media houses owned and managed by women.  The progress is also evidenced by the outstanding performance of media related indicators of the 2018 Rwanda Governance Scorecard in which the indicator on “Rights to Media Freedom” scored as high as 85.85%. I sincerely salute and congratulate men and women who work tirelessly to make an impact and contribute to media development and professionalism in Rwanda. The journey is still long but I believe that with the strong commitment of the Government of Rwanda and all media stakeholders to gender equality in the media sector, Rwanda will continue to be a global champion in gender equality including within the media sector.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen;

At the UNDP, we have been privileged to be part of the implementation of the media reforms since 2012, and I would like to reiterate our continued commitment to strengthening the media sector in general, and to ensure that gender is mainstreamed in this important sector. This support is currently embedded in the UNDP Program on Deepening Democracy through strengthening citizen participation and Accountable Governance program - a five-year partnership between the UNDP and the Government of Rwanda. Within this framework, gender equality and women’s empowerment are key components which We are happy to work on, in partnership with MHC and ARFEM.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,

Coming to the event we are in today, I would like to invite you to join me in congratulating the 66 women journalists who have just completed three days training covering the broad themes on gender equality within the media sector. During the training, participants gained knowledge and skills in different areas including life skills for women empowerment, career planning and career growth, leaderships skills as well as combatting sexual and gender-based violence. To ensure that women journalists are not lagging behind in this digital era that we are living in, the training focused on the use of new technologies, with emphasis on social media which, amidst the various challenges in terms of news production and dissemination, could serve as a quick and efficient tool for access to information. I believe that this training has empowered women media practitioners, not only in terms of their career growth but also through increasing women’s voice and promoting gender equality in the media sector. We do count on them to work closely with their male counterparts to build a gender sensitive media fraternity and media sector in Rwanda, including gender sensitive news production and gender parity across the different levels within the media sector and media houses, in particular. I therefore wish a bright future to the trained journalists and urge them to aim for excellence and maximize the best of themselves. I also count on them to be advocates of gender equality and women’s empowerment in their daily lives and to become the voice to the voiceless, in particular those who have been marginalized and left behind.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen;

As I conclude, I wish to congratulate all the 66 journalists who completed the training and thank all the partners who contributed to the success of this activity particularly the Media High Council (MHC) and the Association of Female Journalists (ARFEM). I also thank them for organizing this certificate awarding ceremony. The certificates are not just recognizing the great efforts invested in the training, but I hope they symbolize the beginning of new journey. I am confident that training women journalists not only equips them with skills and knowledge to carry on in their profession, but it also empowers them to contribute to the national development processes as well as making them champions in fighting Inequalities.

I thank you all, Murakoze Cyane.

 

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