THE media is one of the most demanding industries to work in. This is because the nature of the industry and the newsroom in particular require one to work long hours under intense pressure. Working in the media also requires one to condition their mind to view weekends and holidays as normal working days.
The pressure the media industry exudes on journalists is much more to bear for women who in most instances have to play double roles at work and at home. This has contributed to some women abandoning mainstream media to seek refuge in public relations.
However, for those women who for the love of the profession decide to remain in the main stream media, rising through the ranks has been a challenge.
This is largely due to the patriarchal culture and stereotypes which have for a long time placed men above women thereby perpetuating gender imbalance in various sectors of society, including the media.
It is nonetheless worth noting that slowly women have started breaking through the glass ceiling and are penetrating the media leadership structures.
Some of these women are already creating an impact in their respective areas and are paving way for others to follow suit.
The sad reality, however, is that these women have remained hidden in the cocoons of their organisations without recognition for their great achievements.
It is for this reason the World Association of Newspapers and Publishers (WAN-IFRA) in collaboration with the Swedish International Development and Co-operation Agency (SIDA) launched the Women In News Editorial Leadership Award to recognise exemplary female editorial leadership.
The award, which is targeted at women in editorial roles of newspapers, magazines and online publications, recognises the contribution of a female editor to her newsroom and, under her leadership, the contribution of her publication to society.
The inaugural award, which was in held in 2014, was scooped by Toyosi Ogunseye the first female editor in the more than 40 year history of the Punch Newspaper in Nigeria.
This year, two outstanding editorial female leaders who have inspired and paved the way forward for the next generation of leaders will be awarded, one from the sub-Saharan Africa region and another from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
The winners are expected to have a proven track record of success within their newsrooms, have demonstrated uncompromising editorial integrity throughout their careers, and a strong commitment to the principles of press freedom and its power to promote democracy and good governance.
The 2017 recipients of the Women in News Leadership Award will be honoured during the WAN-IFRA News Media Congress in Durban, scheduled for June 7 -9, 2017.
The Editorial Leadership Award is an initiative under WAN-IFRAâ€™s Women In News programme aimed at empowering female journalists.
The WIN programme, which was launched in 2010, works to increase women leadership and voices in the news.Â It does so through targeted capacity building actions to develop media leaders, combined with a partnership-driven approach to advocacy that aims to sensitise and mobilise the industry on gender equality.
Female editorial leaders in Zambia must rise to the occasion and be counted by ensuring they apply for this prestigious award as a way of raising their personal profiles and that of their media institutions and those country as whole.
These awards will be presented at a global event in Durban which will be attended by media executives, publishers and media experts from around the world. It is therefore an opportunity for Zambian women in editorial leadership to be counted on the global platform.
Women have been accused of being passive and using the gender equality campaign to get things on a silver platter.
Some schools of thought have cited lack of ambition and determination as some of the reasons that hinder women from taking up leadership roles in society.
Women, therefore, need to prove this notion wrong by being assertive and aggressive to reach out for opportunities such as the Editorial Leadership Award and many others. This is the only way they will be able to reclaim their place of influence in society.
It is also not enough for women to attain great achievements in their professions, but thereâ€™s also need to showcase these achievements if we are to get rid of misplaced notions that women are incapable.
The Editorial leadership award therefore, seeks not only to recognise but also showcase exemplary women media leaders.
In doing so, it is also hoped that doors of leadership will be opened for more women.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail Editorials Editor.