Representation of gender and development issues in African media from a Southern theory perspective
Gender equality is one of the goals of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is also an important issue to the development of the society. Women play an important role in the development of African society. However, gender inequality still exists in Africa as a developing continent, which has become one of the key problems to be overcome in the development of African countries. The media plays an important role in raising public awareness of gender inequality, shaping public opinion and helping people understand the importance of gender equality but there have been limited studies on representations of gender equality in the media, particularly as represented in African media outlets and in some of the less developed African countries.
This research focuses on how the African media reports on gender issues in relation to African development. Unlike previous studies on media representations of gender in Africa which focus on media images of women in one African country, this thesis focuses on an analysis of reports of women’s columns in the AllAfrica website, which aims to reveal the African continent as a whole part. Focusing on a timeframe from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2019, since the SDGs, was put forward in 2015, and the study tries to find out what the African media focus in 5 years after the proposed of SDGs. The key questions: the study aims to address are: What gender and development issues are prominent in the African media across the continent? What are the key themes and frameworks used in African reporting on gender and development? What ‘African’ or ‘Southern Perspective’ is reflected in these African media reports on gender and development?
From an analysis of 20,575 reports from 218 media outlets, it finds that the reports in African media on gender and development in Africa focused on four key areas: “gender and politics”, “gender-based violence”, “gender and economy”, and “regional conflicts and terrorism”. “Gender and Politics” reporting focused on the importance of empowerment and explores barriers to women’s participation in politics. Reports on “Gender-based Violence” highlighted various types of gender-based violence against women and call on the public to oppose gender-based violence. “Gender and Economics” reports also focused on “empowerment”, highlighting the potential of women in the economic sector and the importance of empowering women while discussing the difficulties women face in the economy and society. “Regional Conflict and Terrorism”, as another focus of media reports, reflected historic issues in African countries, explored the impact of terrorist activities and conflict areas on women as well as women’s roles in solving regional conflicts and anti-terrorism.
Within these themes, in contrast to previous research on media images, the study found that the representation of gender and development issues in these African media outlets, reflects a ‘Southern perspective’, emphasizing the uniqueness of development issues facing Africa. It also proposes solutions based on local conditions, reflecting the empowerment of women and providing an ‘African perspective’ to the sustainable development framework. The thesis argues that African media reporting of gender issues provides a perspective that maybe helpful for Western and other media outlets to consider when reporting on gender and development issues in Africa.