The stage was set for a morning of camaraderie, collaboration, and conversation at the fourth annual Nedbank Women in Media conference in Windhoek on Sunday, 20 April 2024, and the event, with the theme “Bringing together diverse voices,” did not disappoint.

The conference served as an opportunity to connect with and learn from like-minded trailblazing females in Namibia’s media industry, and further, to facilitate a platform to tackle conversations about how women in the media industry grapple with gender disparities in leadership, mental health and representation.

The event commenced with a warm welcome speech by award-winning journalist and co-founder of Women in Media, Ms Limba Mupetami who motivated the crowd to be go-getters and underscored the importance of preparation and advancement in the field.

“I highly encourage young women to equip themselves, seize educational opportunities, network and pave the way for others,” she said. “I cannot stress how important this is.”

Several speakers advocated for a shift towards inclusive storytelling, that portrays women’s lives in a nuanced, safe and representative manner, while award-winning journalist Shelleygan Petersen addressed the policy gaps that pose a threat to the safety of female journalists in the newsroom and how these policies are to be implemented properly.

“A lot of my colleagues have left the industry because it’s mental health over the passion for the job, and it should never be. Your mental health should not be at the cost of the title or organization,” Ms Petersen said.

Amidst this gathering of influential voices, the persistent gender gap within the media industry served as a central focus, igniting a call to action to rectify disparities in representation.

Nedbank Namibia highlighted their commitment to gender equity in a space where women struggle with expert representation, online hostility and harassment, as well as stereotypical portrayals.

Throughout the conference, emphasis was placed on the significance of mentorship programmes to nurture the next generation of female media professionals and to ensure that their continued success and well-being are cultivated in a competitive landscape.

Through collaboration and collective action, attendees reaffirmed their desire to drive positive change and move the needle forward for gender equity within the media industry.

Other speakers included a keynote address from Sylvia Mundjindi of Friederich Ebert Stiftung who noted the importance of the media industry providing safe spaces for women in their working environments.

News editor Selma Ikela discussed how to address Namibian challenges through storytelling, while Elzita Beukes and Eva Rakel gave inspiring presentations on entertainment as a catalyst for women’s empowerment and a global perspective of the media landscape, respectively.

The curtain closer of the event, a panel discussion on the contribution of corporate PR to the media landscape, opened the floor to insightful ideas from experts including Hilaria Graig, Corporate Communication and Stakeholder Relations Manager at MVA Fund, Helena Moosteng, Public and Corporate Affairs Manager at NDTC, and Katrina Sikeni, Manager for Stakeholder Engagement at GIPF.

Moderated by Selma Kaulinge, Communication and PR Manager at Nedbank Namibia, the women dissected the topic of the interconnectedness of journalism and PR and how the two professions can collaborate to impact informed storytelling and journalistic excellence.

Expressing appreciation for the wealth of knowledge and advice shared, attendee Paula Christoph said she walked away from the event feeling inspired.

“Key takeaways from this event are that we need to collaborate more as women to help each other climb ladders, break ceilings, and change the narrative of what society has been putting out there,” Ms Christoph stated.

Ms Kaulinge reflected on the encouraging numbers at this year’s event.

“We see that every year the event has grown and this year we received the biggest turnout – we are appreciative of that,” said Kaulinge. “Nedbank is committed to events that have a positive ripple effect on the communities in which we operate in.”

“It just shows how hungry women are for platforms like these,” added Women in Media co-founder Jemima Beukes.

For many women, finding a sense of community in the industry plays a key role in finding their feet. This was emphasised by journalist Hertha Ekandjo who shared her testimony with the audience about the impact Women in Media has had.

“I don’t see Women in Media as just an organisation, I see it as a family made up of fearless women who are ready to take position and fight their way up through writing and voice,” emphasised Ekandjo.

Kaulinge further stated that it’s through the support of close partners of this nature, that Nedbank Namibia strives to foster an environment where women can thrive and contribute meaningfully to the media landscape.

“The media plays a crucial role in shaping public perceptions and impacting both corporates and the Namibian community as a whole,” added Selma Kaulinge. “Supporting initiatives like Women in Media contributes to the development and enhancement of the media sector as a whole.”

This year’s Nedbank Women in Media conference provided the platform for building new networks, opening up a safe space for tackling difficult dialogues and encouraging constructive conversations.

The conference was made possible through the support of several sponsors, such as Nedbank Namibia, Multichoice, the European Union, Pupkewitz Motors, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Gondwana Collection Namibia and Women in Media.

In the photo: Speakers from the Nedbank Women in Media Conference were made up of women from diverse professions within media.