Public perception on mass media's performance in promoting gender equality
Liyani, Mathews Kaputo
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People are influenced by what they read, see, and hear, mainly from the mass media. It was from this that the Beijing Conference of 1995 realised and resolved that the mass media was one of the key areas that could be used to promote gender equality. For some time now, the mass media has been making efforts in promoting gender equality. However, the efforts being made by the mass media are mainly measured through quantitative means. Researchers tend to count the number of stories, space and time allocated by the mass media to gender stories or programmes, in measuring its contribution to promoting gender equality. This study took a different approach. It measured the performance of the mass media in promoting gender equality through public perception. This was because the number of stories or space and time allocated by the mass media to promoting gender equality does not amount to positive impact on the audience. Other qualitative factors, such as the way the story has been packaged, also come into play. In this study, which was conducted in Lusaka urban, it was discovered that the public perceived the mass media to have performed poorly in the promotion of gender equality. The public also noted that there was a marginal improvement in the performance of the mass media regarding the promotion of gender equality. The findings of the study also show that television was perceived to have contributed more to gender equality than any other mass media channel. Suggestions for media practitioners and gender activists on how best the mass media can promote gender equality from the public perception point of view can be inferred from this study.