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Women In News - Empowering Media Professionals

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Women In News - Empowering Media Professionals

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“There are 153 years of experience in this room. We all know what we have to do to excel, and we are going to help each other do it,” media trainer Paula Fray told a group of 16 women media managers from Botswana, Namibia and Zambia, when opening a leadership workshop within Women in News (WIN), a WAN-IFRA initiative that launched its second year in early April in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Creating strong local media enterprises

Launched in 2010, WIN equips women from both the commercial and editorial side of newspapers with sustainable strategies, skills and support networks to contribute to the growth of strong local media enterprises. The programme partners with local and international experts to deliver high-impact and personalised leadership development opportunities to mid-level women media professionals, who are generally under-represented in topmanagement positions. Of the 14 participants enrolled in the first year of the programme, nearly 30 percent were promoted within their organisations and several others reported an increase in their capacity as both managers and leaders in their current roles.

Leah Komakoma Kabamba, a mid-level manager with The Post newspaper group in Zambia, and a WIN 2010 participant, says of her experiences in the programme: “The media landscape in Zambia is void of women in managerial positions. The few that are there are extremely frustrated, and being in the WIN programme helped me realise that the frustrations are not unique to Zambia, nor are they insurmountable.”

Leveraging local knowledge

In 2011, WIN increased from 15 to 31 participants and introduced the concept of local coaches to complement the input of international coaches as part of an overall goal to encourage local ownership of WIN and support a return of traditional African practices of mentorship and community support networks. As in 2010, the new participants are drawn from a diverse range of professional backgrounds within the media industry of their respective countries.

Returning participants are also taking on a leadership role in the programme by becoming peer mentors to the new participants as a means of developing their own leadership skills.

Unique to WIN 2011 is one participant who is in the process of launching her own newspaper in Northeast Namibia, The Northern Bulletin, which she hopes will go to print by the end of May 2011. “All of Namibia’s newspapers are based in Windhoek, so I identified a gap in information share in Rundu, the second largest city in Namibia. That’s why I’m launching The Northern Bulletin,” says Ritha Siteketa. “With such a massive undertaking, I am truly looking forward to absorbing all the knowledge that WIN can provide; it will benefit this new paper and my community.”

2011 and beyond

Over the coming nine months, the participants will meet twice more as a complete group for coaching, skills development, mentoring and networking and also on four occasions within their national markets to focus on topics that will address their unique requirements for professional development.

WIN is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) under a strategic partnership to advance media development and press freedom worldwide.

Coaching and mentoring at the core of WIN

“WIN is not about somebody doing something for you, it’s about you doing something for yourself,” says Caroline Phiri-Lubwika, one of the local coaches engaged in the WIN programme. “When you talk about women’s issues there is sometimes a negative connotation around them, but this programme gives women an opportunity to grow and to develop in the right way.”

She continues: “This is one of the first coaching and mentoring programmes that I have come across in Botswana and the region. The empowerment that takes place within the programme is equipping women to become assertive and take on new roles in decision-making and leadership.”

Local coach Sandra Agyemang says: “It is often easy to forget that we are all mentors in our own way, and therefore tend to not pay much attention to those very qualities others admire in us. As a local coach, I find the programme very fulfilling from the point of view of being able to give back to the world, and I cannot help but notice the hunger for knowledge in different fields from the ladies I have the opportunity to work with.”


This article appeared in the May/June issue of WAN-IFRA Magazine. The magazine in its entirety can be read online at

After a successful first year, the WIN Programme begins its second year. Read about it here:

For more about the guiding principles of the programme's Charter,

WAN-IFRA is proud of its WIN participants- take a look at what Leatile Gaolape of The Guardian Sun in Botswana had to say:

Details on WAN-IFRA and WIN's approach to developing stronger leaders from the female community:

Applicants for the 3rd year of the WIN Programme are invited to submit their applications. Guidelines can be found here:


Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop


2011-05-19 14:26

Related nodes

The Women in News (WIN) programme provides women media professionals with personalized, high-impact leadership development opportunities with the support of local and international experts. It equips them with sustainable strategies, skills and support networks to advance their careers and contribute to the growth of strong local media enterprises.


Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop


2011-04-07 15:18

Possibly the most impactful and pivitol aspect of WAN-IFRA's Women In News (WIN) programme is career coaching. In order to assist participants from Botswana, Namibia an Zambia in developing their career roadmaps - detailed five-year plans for professional growth within the media industry - two international career coaches have been actively involved since WIN's July launch; engaging WIN women regularly in person and over the phone.


Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop


2011-01-14 16:42

WAN-IFRA’s Declaration of Table Mountain is an earnest appeal to all Africans, particularly those in power, to recognise that political and economic progress flourishes in a climate where the press is free and independent of governmental, political or economic control. Read more ...