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SANEF Notes: Women say: Stop, Pause, Listen and Act

06 August 2018 

Sanef challenges all news desks and editors to use women’s voices, experts and analysts during August instead of contacting the same old.


We commemorate Women’s Day/Women’s month this year by listening carefully to what women all over the country are saying: stop all the violence against women, stop abuse both physical and emotional, stop rape, stop murder, our bodies are not crime scenes and hold men accountable. We supported the #TotalShutDown march to the Union Buildings and everywhere else in the country on the first day of Women’s Month. We will continue to support all activism against women abuse.


Some of the questions we are asking in Sanef’s Diversity subcommittee include: are the voices of women reflected in our media? Are the majority of opinion pieces and comment and analysis pieces still the same old, same old – male voices. We are attempting to scrutinize the layers of race, class and gender and heteronormativity in the voices media privilege. Again and again research shows that the voices of women are not even near 50% but less than 20%. A study from State of the Newsroom a few years ago, showed that even in “Women’s Month” and in community newspapers, the voices of women were less than 20%.


Sanef met with several gender NGOS this month and a strong call emerged that during the month of August we should appeal to all editors and journalists to use only women’s voices in opinion pages, comment and analysis, and for expert comment.


In newsrooms themselves our Glass Ceiling research is showing some backlash against initial gains women made in the first five years post-apartheid: the number of women editors has dropped. The number of black women editors in newspapers for example is at its lowest ever. The finalised Glass Ceiling 2018 research will be launched during our Media freedom/Black Wednesday week in October this year. But so far, the research in 2018 shows the following:

  • Women feel sidelined in the newsroom and are generally snubbed for promotions in their media companies.
  • They feel an old boys network/club still exists.
  • They experience subtle and overt sexism.
  • They know they earn less than men of the same experience but can’t prove it.
  • In almost exactly the same words from our Glass Ceiling survey ten years ago, 2008, women are saying that newsrooms are poor enabling environments for change, attitude change, and career paths in general.
  • They experience sexual harassment out in the field when they are reporting.
  • They experience sexism on the part of their editors and news editors who tell them to use sexiness to get the story.
  • They experience trolling on social media and cyber bullying.
  • As job losses continue in the journalism industry, diversity of voice is affected, and women’s voices are being lost more than ever, and so Sanef calls on all its media houses, and news desks to take heed of the battles women are facing in society at large and in the newsroom itself.


Sanef calls on all progressive men to partner with women to fight the scourge of violence against women in our society. Stop, pause, listen and act.

Finally, we challenge newsrooms to reflect women’s voices more loudly throughout the year, and not just around Women’s Day events.


For more information please contact:

Glenda Daniels – SANEF Diversity and Ethics Committee Chairperson

083 229 9708


Mahlatse Mahlase – SANEF Chairperson

083 399 2852


Kate Skinner – SANEF Executive Director

082 926 6404