Is “Talk” Cheap? – How Women Are Constantly Excluded Out Of Leadership Conversations

I am a keen gender observer on the status of equity and inclusion, I find it concerning that women’s invitation into discussions is seasonal and binary focused- seasons marked for Women such as International Women’s Day (IWD), tor Girls- Day of the Girl (DODG), Mothers Day, 16 Days of Activism- End Violence Against Women and Girls, End FGM and of course, Elections Cycle. 

Media houses like Channels TV, Arise TV, and TVC sparingly mainstream women to include them for interviews and conversations that analyse and dissect core National issues as more men are invited to speak on table topics more than women . Prime time talk shows like Channels TV’s Politics Today, Political Paradigm, TVC’s Journalist Hangout, Arise TV’s Morning Show, either by limited availability or unconscious omission, have less women showing up to discuss matters of importance in our society making them invisible on our screens. I applaud media houses such as African Independent Television (AIT) that hosts the intelligently curated show called “Gender Agenda by Adaora Sydney -Jack and   Women’s Radio, the only radio station focussed on women- created by Toun Okewale Sonaiya. I have been honoured to feature as a guest on this shows many times, and while these platforms show deliberateness and commitments to center, discuss and present pan-African issues around women, with a lens into our country, Nigeria, we still require added visibility for women. 

Hon Nnena Ukeje, a former law maker, echoes my thoughts in a recent discussion on Politics Today, marking the International Women’s Day (IWD) 2024 event, by speaking to the very sparse commitments and consistency in the recognition of women. There is still a gap in the intentionality of including women in State, National and Presidential matters when discussed on Main TV Stations in Nigeria, in my opinion. 

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) Women Respond Survey, it reveals that ‘listening to women and putting their voices central to crisis response efforts helps change the perception of women from being passive recipients of aid, to being relief agents for households and communities in crisis’.

Media, one of the main tools of education and orientation, contribute to the subliminal exclusion of women in Global and National conversations as well as reinforcing the social stereotypes and norms by inactive gender sensitive reporting and mainstreaming. Some National Print Media have dedicated a section of their publications to feature women across Nigeria and I applaud the consistency across them- Blueprint, Guardian Woman, ThisDay, Vanguard and The Nation– of which I have also been honoured to feature in. Yet, more can be done. 

When we speak about girls seeing role models, the most likely spaces for some, are on some social media platforms ‘influencing’ what is seen and internalising it as standard. Some Media houses have curated shows around women, centering discussions around lived experiences, skits, opinions, societal stereotypes and ideologies, however one can argue the relevance and reach to further reinforce or challenge norms in some of the feature ‘stories’. 

‘Talk’ goes beyond words. Representation goes beyond the number of women that can be counted in positions of power (even though that’s critical). Women require results-oriented commitments, mainstreamed into all levels of conversations, governance, discussions, interviews, and require the extension of invitations to be heard and included for a change to be intentional. 

Our Nation has to take the log out of her eyes and the Media requires a lens into the commitment and representation of women, review its reporting policies and processes to ensure that Gender is adequately represented on not only socialised and normalised conversations, but also analytical issues of insecurity, peace building, economic policies, poverty, sustainable development, trading, health and technology. 

Let’s place our commitments where our mouths are. 

Añuli Aniebo 

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