Promoting women’s voices on HIV/Aids

1 June 2012

Eight of South Africa’s media houses have teamed up with the International Women’s Media Fund (IWMF) to improve their coverage of issues around HIV/Aids, the Washington-based organisation announced last week.

This will be achieved through the organisation’s HIV/Aids investigative reporting fellowship, which was established in South Africa in 2011 to fill the gap in reporting about HIV/Aids. The programme is supported by the MAC Aids Fund.

“HIV/Aids has had a devastating impact in South Africa, with more than 500 000 new infections each year and 1.2-million children orphaned as a result of Aids,” the IWMF’s Nadine Hoffman said in a statement.

“Yet mainstream media coverage of the epidemic has been characterised by a lack of urgency, failure to examine the reasons behind stigma and denial, and inadequate engagement with people living with the disease,” she said.

Women, in particular, are excluded from the discourse even though they are disproportionately affected by the disease.

The second batch of journalists participating in the fellowship represent some of South Africa’s biggest media houses and come from various backgrounds, including print and broadcast.

“Selected fellows will receive advanced training and coaching to produce innovative, high-quality investigative reporting on the complex, under-reported issues surrounding HIV/Aids, reflecting women’s voices and concerns,” Hoffman said. “Each will produce three to four investigations for their news organisations as part of the IWMF programme.”

The 10 journalists taking part in the 2012 fellowship are:

  • Zeenat Abdool, SABC radio Channel Africa
  • Tanja Bencun, SABC Digital News
  • Bianca Capazorio, Weekend Argus
  • Euline Fillis, SABC’s FOKUS
  • Mukelwa Hlatshwayo, eTV
  • Sibongile Mashaba, Sowetan
  • Sipho Masombuka, The Times
  • Ina Skosana, The New Age
  • Bibi-Aisha Wadvalla, SciDev
  • Nomsa Zwane, Alex FM

These journalists will be following in the footsteps of the 2011 fellows, who produced over 30 investigative pieces covering issues such as HIV/Aids in the military, the spread of the diseases through rape in prisons, HIV among sex workers and the role of medical male circumcision in preventing the disease.

This fellowship is only one that the IWMF runs. The IWMF was founded in 1990 as a non- profit organisation to strengthen the position and role of women in news media around the world. It has a network of both men and women working in the news media in over 130 countries and has conducted successful programmes in 25 countries.

SAinfo reporter