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Gender issues and the media: Interview with Pat Made
Varaidzo Tagwireyi , Kubatana.net
December 01, 2011

Read Inside/Out with Pat Made

View audio file details

In the weeks before the interview I diligently set out to do some preparatory research on Pat Made, and came up with very little information on a woman I know to be busier than a busy bee. Surprisingly I found very little information on her work and even less on Pat Made herself. When I told her about the challenge I faced in doing research, she looked pleased. She then told me that many people know her as more of a behind-the-scenes kind of person, and that she quite liked the freedom she enjoyed because people can't really pigeon hole her. Pat is involved in Gender and Women's Rights advocacy and the media. She is a teacher and an ideas person. Hopefully, the following interview will shed more light on who Pat Made is, what she does, and her strong alignment to women's issues.

You do a lot of work involving gender and the media. Was gender studies a part of your training or did gender find you?
I think gender found me by virtue of my sex. My first degree is in Philosophy, and then I started a graduate programme in Journalism. But when I finished college, I got married, came to Zimbabwe, and then did a BA Honours in English, and a Masters in English. But in the course of this, I've always known, somehow, that I wanted to write about the stories and lives of women. When I became an editor in an international news agency, I started driving my correspondents in that way; looking for the voices and perspectives of women, and stories about women. And then when I got into global management I was even able to conceive and direct a project within a global news agency where we actually captured the stories of women in leadership at all levels, around the world. And of course, when you're in media, you read more, you keep learning, you start participating in discussions and sessions, and before you know it, you're living and breathing as much knowledge around Gender Equality and Women's Rights issues, as those who might be doing it more academically. Listen

You have been involved in gender equality advocacy and the media for a long while now. How much change have you seen with regard to these issues in your time?
I think we have seen change. A critical area where we've seen change, not only in the context of Africa, is in freedom of expression, and that, whether we realize it or not, is a pivotal change, because finding your voice is critical to participation. It's critical to actually beginning to make alignment and movements. It's critical to putting issues on the agenda. So that's quite significant. I think throughout Southern Africa, we're beginning to see women move into decision-making within politics and governance structures. You're seeing them take on some very difficult challenges, and being recognized for it, especially women in Africa. You can see that women becoming more visible, becoming powerful with a voice, courageous in action. And that is perhaps what brings about change over time. We know change often is incremental anyway, but it builds momentum. So I do think, we don't have to be frustrated yet, because any kind of struggle is always long term. Dr. Martin Luther King used to say, in terms of civil rights, "Keep your eyes on the Prize!" and the prize is a social justice. And it may not come for us to visibly see in our lifetime, but as long as you can envision it, you can continuously work towards it. Listen

The major successes and milestones of the Women's Struggle in Zimbabwe happened simultaneously at independence, and as a result a lot of young women don't know about it. What can be done to correct this?
The "Her Story", is equally as important, and we lose it when we don't write about these stories. For example, as you know I'm an African-American. And I didn't live during the time of slavery, and I didn't live during the time when a lot of black women entered into a lot of movements for the right to vote, the abolitionist movement against slavery, and what have you, but I carry that memory and I'm very proud of it, because it was part and parcel of my education. In terms of the literature that I read, the history . . . "Her Story" . . . that I was fed, from the time I was in high school, to college and still what I read today. So that documentation of their stories is exactly what feeds my soul. So what's missing here is the documentation of after independence, and the growth of the Women's Movement. The struggles that they waged, the law and things that came about, as a result of their struggles. And those stories have to be part and parcel of your education. And that then becomes part of you, and you carry it on. That's what's missing. And I think that's what we need to rectify in some way. So the narrative that we actually write; the stories that we capture, that's what gives us our legacy. And when we don't capture them, and the narratives are written by others in different ways, and there are missing pieces of it, then you always have this gap. So it's still powerful to put pen to paper. Listen

In the past few months, there has been a drastic increase in media reports on gender-based violence. What do you think is the solution to this problem, which seem s to be on the rise?
It's a multi faceted issue, rooted strongly in the unequal gender power relations. But also rooted somehow, we have to accept, in our lack of respect for each other as human beings. Again, we have to look back in terms of how have we approached this issue, you know, in terms of trying at all levels to really see what the dialogue is; what people really think, how people are approaching it. Because remember, if we take a country like Zimbabwe, we still have little data to say what is happening and how it's being approached. It hasn't been captured for us to understand what we need to deal with. For example, the media and the stories that you see. Well, we actually, in 2010, monitored the Zimbabwe media, specifically to see it's coverage on all issues, but went further to do a different set of research, around GBV.

The data shows, of the total of all the stories, its only 3%, according to Gender and Media Progress Study, for Zimbabwe. So while you think it's flashing, it is not. The second thing is, most of that reporting, is coming from 'courts and crime'. What pops up is the most sensational kind of GBV crime, and that's what becomes the headline in your face. So that's how it's coming to the news agenda. It is not coming to the news agenda as an issue; that gender-based violence is an issue that's having a negative impact on the economic, social, and political fabric of our society. That's not how it's coming. It's only coming as events, isolated events that may or may not be quite correct, because we still don't have the national data to match with that image. What really is going on, because the media is not giving us a comprehensive picture, nor is it giving us a picture that's very gender-responsive. It is not reporting it as a national issue, nor is it going further to put it into the context of the policy framework, and what needs to be done in terms of the rights of women and girls. We don't get that kind of coverage of reporting, which is more informed and helps us as citizens to be able to get a different kind of perception and conceptual way of dealing with the issue.

But at the base of it, it's about you, looking at another human being. How do we even utter words about democracy and human rights, when we don't include in that the issue that people are being violated every single day. That has to be part of the democracy and human rights discourse. It cannot be just separated, as a women's rights discourse. It has to be integral to democracy and human rights. It has to be integral to us talking about being the best that we can be as people. Listen

With regard to the younger generation, it seems that there is a lack of empowerment and drive among young women. What do you think about the young women of today?
Sometimes, when our circle might be a bit small, we can only see what's in front of us, not what may be behind. Because sometimes, when you step out of what's in front of you, even just moving around this region, you meet the most amazing young women, not only from Zimbabwe, but other countries in Africa, who are just doing the most wonderful things. Whether it's in communications, the use of the new media, academics. So I think they are there, but the problem is, like I said, sometimes you can only see what's right in you face. So a lot of it is about exposure to the vast amount of young women who are both within in the country and in the region and elsewhere, to know what they are up to and what they are doing. That's why a lot of organizations right now are trying to bring together forums, so that you can see who these you women are and what they are doing. So I do think it's not dismal. There's a lot of brightness out there, and I think that's extremely encouraging. I feel though, it's just more about how do we get the platforms, that we can all see and share and hear what's going on among all these young women and what they are doing. Listen

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Audio File

  • Gender found me
    Summary:
    Language: English
    Duration: 1min 15sec
    Date: December 01, 2011
    File Type: MP3
    Size: 1.15MB

  • We have seen change
    Summary:
    Language: English
    Duration: 1min 42sec
    Date: December 01, 2011
    File Type: MP3
    Size: 1.57MB

  • Need to tell "her story"
    Summary:
    Language: English
    Duration: 1min 41sec
    Date: December 01, 2011
    File Type: MP3
    Size: 1.55MB

  • Rise of gender based violence
    Summary:
    Language: English
    Duration: 3min 20sec
    Date: December 01, 2011
    File Type: MP3
    Size: 3.06MB

  • Young women today
    Summary:
    Language: English
    Duration: 1min 31sec
    Date: December 01, 2011
    File Type: MP3
    Size: 1.39MB

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