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‘Hear me roar’: Women journalists claim their voice in the Great Lakes

2013 April 11

By Stephanie Fagan

Since a young age, I greatly admired broadcast journalist Christiane Amanpour for her honest news coverage and courage to address women’s issues in various parts of the world. (It also doesn’t hurt that she began her career at my local news station in Rhode Island.) Either way, I grew up with Amanpour as a beacon of truth. She inspired me to think deeper, carefully analyze current events, and respectfully question everything I am told.

G_3With Amanpour and her female colleagues as role models, I grew up knowing that I had a voice in my community. However, millions of young women around the world don’t have such female role models. That is why, on March 8th, Search launched its “Media: A Voice for All” initiative in Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The project will extend to the Central African Republic and the Republic of Congo in the near future.

The program has two objectives:

1. Increase the number of female journalists in the Great Lakes region of Africa

2. Improve gender-sensitivity in media coverage, especially on women’s issues

To reach these goals, Search is partnering with local women’s media associations in each country. The program will provide training sessions, capacity building instruction, innovation grants, sensitization activities, and networking development.

To celebrate the commencement of this two-year program, Search hosted launch parties in Rwanda, the DRC, and Burundi. Below are reactions from the local women journalists:


  • Jane Uwimana, reporter at Radio 10/Kigali: “Since we will have enough women in [the] media sector, we will have a great number of people writing, reporting on gender issues and advocating for women.”

  • Faith Mbabazi, president of the partner women’s media association ARFEM: “We will approach young girls in the school of journalism and tell them, ‘Hey! Look, journalism is the best thing you can ever opt for, and there is nothing that you would like success from other than writing a story that will change someone’s life.’”

Democratic Republic of Congo

  •  “I am extremely happy about the launch of this project, and especially of the small grants for the production of gender-sensitive radio programming. This competition for small grants, open to Congolese radio journalists, shows that SFCG understands that local journalists are capable of producing radio magazine to high quality standards.”

  • “This project is great. It will enable Congolese women journalists to better understand and learn from the reality of other women journalists in the Great Lakes region, and how they address gender issues in their countries.”


  • “Improving women’s image in the media must go through an improvement of women’s image in society, and requires from the media that they give a voice to women and encourage them to speak up, because they have a talent and intelligence that [the] media do not exploit.”

Excitement surrounds the “Media: A Voice for All” project. This program will directly impact the lives of millions of women in the Great Lakes region. The media harnesses immense responsibility. A voice for allJournalists not only relay the news, they also frame it for the public. As a result, supporting female journalists and increasing gender-sensitive reporting can positively affect many facets of society. It can completely transform the status of women as they become vessels of knowledge and respected figures in the community.

The actions of today shape the dreams of tomorrow. If more women become prominent journalists in the Great Lakes region of Africa, it will inspire younger generations of girls to do the same. At the end of the day, every young woman deserves her own Amanpour. We are working to make that a reality.


Stephanie Fagan is a graduating senior at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, where she studies international affairs with a concentration in contemporary cultures and societies. She believes that understanding nuanced cultural differences is essential to the peace building process. Stephanie is the new media intern at Search for Common Ground.

One Response leave one →
  1. April 24, 2013

    Dear colleagues,
    I am glad to hear from the launch of their project for I was looking for partner female journalists in the Great Lakes region with whom ICGLR would like to partner for communicating on SGBV. Could you give me names of journalits in your network in DRC, Rwanda and Burundi and their complete addresses .
    Thank you

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