In order to promote women’s empowerment and to generate awareness of the importance of achieving gender equality, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek celebrates women and their accomplishments each Wednesday. For this week’s #WCW Wednesday Celebrate Women, UNIC Windhoek celebrates Marlise Mouton, a broadcast journalist at Channel 7 who recently became the fourth Namibian to complete the prestigious Reham Al-Farra (RAF) Memorial Journalists Fellowship Programme.
The RAF Programme is designed for young, full time journalists working in print, web-based, radio and television media from developing countries and countries with economies in transition. The Programme was mandated in December 1980 by UN General Assembly Resolution 35/201 (paragraph III-9) and renamed in September 2003 “Reham Al-Farra Memorial Journalists Fellowship Programme” to honour Ms. Reham Al-Farra, a young UN staff member killed in the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad.
Check out Marlise’s interview with UNIC Windhoek! Read along as she talks about her experience in the RAF Programme, her career as a broadcast journalist and how media can be used as a platform to promote positive change.
1.) Could you please tell us a bit about yourself and your career?
I am a broadcast journalist at Channel 7 radio, the first private radio station in Namibia. I have been working in the media industry since 2005 with news and current affairs being my main focus.
I coordinate the news office at Channel 7 and am very passionate about community and development journalism. I believe that journalists have power in developing and uplifting societies.
2.) Could you tell us about your experience participating in the 2016 Reham Al-Farra (RAF) Memorial Journalists Fellowship Programme?
I was very privileged to have been selected and ultimately participate as one of the RAF Fellows (as we are known). This experience has been so uplifting and the knowledge that I acquired will forever be a highlight of my career.
I think it is most (if not every) journalist’s wish to visit the UN headquarters and experience how history is made in terms of the many decisions taken for the development of our nations. It was such an honor to meet all the high-ranking UN officials and a pleasant surprise when they shared information that relates to Namibia.
There is so much that I can share and that I will remember about this experience, but one of the best [parts of the programme was seeing] the work ethic of UN staff and enthusiasm with which they perform their duties. They truly have a passion for development; something that I can proudly say, I also share.
3.) How has it been as a woman in the media industry? Have you come across any challenges because of your gender?
A lot of work has been done to address gender inequality in Namibia and in the workplace as well. It is also evident in my own workplace. I am the news coordinator for the newsroom and do not feel intimidated at all in the execution of my duties. Starting out though as junior reporter, I needed to make my mark and show that as a woman I can also pursue and report any story.
In the past I do think women needed to show more of what they/ we are capable of because of the stigma that women were the weaker sex. Today, the playing field is much more equal, and I don’t find it too difficult to do my job.
4.) How can the media be a platform to promote positive change and gender equality?
The media must be open and willing to listen to the voices that are sometimes too soft to hear. The media is an excellent medium for development, which is why more positive and uplifting (development) stories need to be portrayed in our media.
The media in Namibia is quite neutral and objective. [I believe that is something] that should be maintained and this role should further be expanded to exercise a watchdog role when it comes to gender equality issues.
5.) What are your thoughts on women’s empowerment?
Women all over the world have a special role to play and what women offer is important to society. Women should be empowered.
6.) What is your advice to girls pursuing their dreams?
Don’t let anyone make you feel small. Work hard, encourage yourself, you are your own best friend. Design a blue print for yourself, and work towards a future you want.
7.) What is your motto in life?
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Luke 6:31).
If you treat others the way you want to be treated, you’ll sleep well at night.