Building peace in the minds of men and women

Strengthening communication skills of female County Assembly Members in Kenya

Fifteen Kenyan women, County Assembly Members, attended a two-day training on media and communication skills from 7 to 8 April 2014 in Kisumu, Kenya. The training was organized by UNESCO in partnership with the African Woman and Child Feature Service (AWC). It aimed at building capacities of female County Assembly Members by equipping them with media and communication skills in order to advance success of their counties and to encourage county governments to embrace gender equality principles as a prerequisite for sustainable development.

During the training, participants learnt how to generate gender sensitive reports while working with the media and how to leverage the importance of gender in development, especially with the current devolved system of governance in Kenya. The training was based on the UNESCO’s Getting the Balance Right: Gender Equality In Journalism handbook.

Lucy Nyagithii, Member of the County Delegated Legislation Committee, said, “The media in Kenya has always failed to use its priming and framing abilities to capture the voices of women County Assembly Members. This training provides us with a great opportunity to gain knowledge and sharpen skills for future engagement with the media to increase coverage of issues affecting women in our counties.”

Similar feelings were echoed by Salome Wairimu, Member of Trade, Investment and Industrial Committee: “This training has come at an opportune time and will enable us to understand how we can relate with the media, how they work, communicate, package and frame issues affecting women in our counties.” 

Some participants also noted that media apathy continues to dominate the coverage of women-related issues at the county level, with men still presented as the dominant frame and drivers of the devolution process in the counties.

This training workshop was informed by lack of gender perspectives in decisions and actions in both National and County Governments in Kenya, with the problem being more pronounced at the County Government level. It was based on two studies:

  • Gender in the News, by the African Woman and Child Feature Service; and
  • Media Coverage of the Devolution Process in Kenya, by the Media Council of Kenya.

Both studies revealed that most stories in the media were male-centered, thus giving men a vantage point.

The training is part of UNESCO’s ongoing initiatives of building capacity of women and enhancing pluralistic media, including by adoption of gender-sensitive policies, and is implemented within the framework of the UN Government of Kenya Joint Programme on Gender Equality and Women Empowerment.