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Sexual harassment, a challenge media women face in Kenya


By; Mgandi Ngala


When she dreamt of becoming the top journalist in the Country she managed to convince her parents to register her in a higher learning media institution in the country since her parents would prefer nursing or teaching to media profession.

However, the now top Coast region Voice of America reporter has realized her dreams of working in an international media organization.

Amina Chombo, a renowned political and current affairs talk show host and now a health and gender reporter at Voice of America-VOA Swahili admits that the bed was not that rosy for her.

First she realized that most qualified Journalists could not find internship in the robust media sector across the country leave alone securing a job opportunity.

However, she persisted and secured a place at Radio Kaya, a Kwale based most listened radio station at the Coastal region of Kenya.

After a 7 years of successful practicing, as a Senior news reporter, an Associate editor, a talk show host which discussed political, social and current affairs and a strong commanding voice news anchor she moved to Voice of America VOA Swahili, where she has been practicing gender, health and current affairs reporting to date.

However, Amina singles out sexual harassment right at the places of work, discrimination in promotions, underrating among some of the obstacles women in the media face but none would stand up and speak out.

“Though am not a victim of the puzzle, most of my colleagues in the media would share their experiences in different media forums in the country, we are not sex objects but qualified journalist who can work just like our male counterparts,” she says.

Amina urges women in the media to defend their ground and ensure they are handled with all the dignity they deserve while working in any media house whether community based, regional or major national media houses.

On her part Ruth Keah who has been working for an Islamic based radio station, Radio Rahma, for about 10 years, climbing the ladder from a news and feature reporter to the head of news admits that women face serious challenges in the media and it is through their efforts that such obstacles will be contained.

Ruth, a multi-award winner says that the Coastal community is yet to embrace women in the media and would mostly value or listen to male journalists compared to female media personalities.

“With the current insecurity issue especially in Mombasa as a female journalist you must sacrifice or else you will lose your job,” she noted.

However, she is not relenting but vowed to pursue her career until she feels she has attained her goals in life.

“Our male counterparts should value our work, support us so that we also accomplish our goals as media women, we are here to serve and change the community as well,” she insisted.

[Radio Rahma’s head of news Ruth Keah interviewing a visually impaired person in Mombasa/Photo By Cyrus Ngonyo]

Ruth appealed to gender rights defenders the Media Council of Kenya and the association of media women in Kenya to implement programs geared towards guiding women in the media on how they can overcome various challenges they face as they execute their mandate.