Media guru calls for affirmative action on gender gaps, as she shares her success story

She is the first woman to hold the position of Director of Programmes, at the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation, ZNBC.

Rose Chumpuka is one of the Five Directors at the country’s public service broadcaster.

Ms. Chumpuka started out as a producer at ZNBC 25 years ago after graduating from the University of Zambia with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass communication and a minor in public administration.

She rose through the ranks until in 2016, when she began her journey of providing overall coordination, planning, supervision and leadership of the programming Directorate. The Directorate comprises four Newsrooms, three television channels, three Radio networks and an Information Resource centre that houses the Corporation’s audio and video libraries.

“I went on to read a Master of Communications and Media studies degree at Monash university in Melbourne, Australia. I graduated with honors and rejoined the corporation and rose to the position of Director of programme.”

Having grown up in the town centre area of Ndola town on the Copperbelt, Rose, the youngest of the three sisters, describes her childhood as pleasant.

“My childhood was a very loving and fulfilling upbringing. My father was a civil service worker while my mum opted to stay home and take care of me and my two elder sisters, I grew up in a nuclear home”, said Chumpuka.

Ms. Chumpuka started school at Ndola Primary, nearly 400 meters from home before going to the then Dominican convent primary and secondary school, where she completed her grade twelve. From a young age her parents were her role models.

“My mum was awesome and very loving. She was always there to help me with homework, teach me house chaos, knitting and gardening. She was also very instrumental in instilling Christian ethos in the family. Dad was great fun. Often, we took holidays with him to places like Livingstone, kariba and to grand mum's farm as well”. Said Chumpuka

Ms. Chumpuka who herself is a mother of two girls has passed on the family ideals among them, placing a value on education to her daughters.

“My daughters are both in university. The older one is pursuing a degree in purchasing and supply, while the other is doing law,” she said

Cognizant of the fact that, a Journalist, is a Jack of all fields but a Master of non, Rose tried her luck at politics, in 2001. She adds that her interest in politics came about as a result of her interaction with politicians.

“I developed a passion for politics and I pursued it for two years. However, my passion for Journalism, was overwhelming. I left politics and returned to my all-time passion and calling - being a scribe,” she noted.

Undoubtedly, the job of Director of Programmes is very challenging as one must meet the information, educational and entertainment needs of any society and that doesn't come easy. The Director of programmes also stands at the forefront of one of ZNBC’s core functions, providing guidance and leadership during the industry-wide transition from analogue to digital broadcasting and must champion new industry trends and programming to ensure the Corporation maintains its position as a market leader. This requires a lot of patience, listening and embracing of divergent views.

Ms. Chumpuka is however grateful and proud that being the first women DP at ZNBC means gender equity does exist in the country.

“It demonstrates that our management and governance processes are gender inclusive. It also validates the tremendous efforts that we as a country have made towards gender inclusiveness’, Ms Chumpuka said.

She is quick to note that women should not just aspire for top leadership positions based on their gender but should work hard . She adds that to reach senior management levels require, focus, teamwork, diligence to duty, and hard work.

Ms. Chumpuka says one has to strive to be relevant at all times, pointing out that the media landscape has evolved tremendously and calls for the need to continuously evolve, change, adapt and to forge new partnership and collaboration for survival and sustainability.

“It is my firm belief, that the starting point to achieving anything in life, is believing in yourself. It is also about giving it your best effort. Ultimately, it is God’s will for your life. Determination, skills, attributes, qualification are but gifts from God.”

Ms. Chumpuka told Swenga News that the challenges in media are many for women, noting that there is a sense of gender inequality, threats for publishing certain stories by sources, character assassination and very rarely sexual harassment or discrimination.

A study dubbed “What the papers say about women in Zambia, monitoring of print media coverage of women,” conducted in 2017 and 2018 by Panos Institute Southern Africa, revealed that that media coverage was skewed against women, with women only getting 6.9 percent of all coverage in Zambia’s leading daily newspapers. The study also points out that 46 percent of the stories about women were positive.

Panos works with the media to promote positive facts and opinions about women as well as debunk

harmful, sexist and wrong stereotypes about women. The organisations works with and through the media to positively profile women, and to improve the quality and amount of coverage of women in the media.

Its Executive Director, Lilian Saka Kiefer, re-echoes Ms Chumpuka’s sentiments, saying, “…women have to content with socio-cultural stereotypes that are entrenched in people’s mindsets through the patriarchal culture and traditions, making it difficult for them to get to the top.”

She added that society is generally inclined to believe that women are not meant to be leaders. These stereotypes create a glass ceiling preventing women from getting to the top. As a result of the glass ceiling, women have to work twice as hard, but even then, they are not trusted and therefore denied opportunities to get to the top.

‘’Sexual harassment is another challenge that not only hinders women from getting to the top, but also hinders them from accessing opportunities that can help them realise or demonstrate their worth. In some cases, the sexual harassment is in the form of negative, sexist labelling of women aspiring for or holding leadership positions,” said Kiefer.

Ms. Kiefer added that leadership requires people to have access to certain resources and to have attained a certain level of education noting that unfortunately, the landscape does not favor women, as they are denied opportunities to education, and have limited opportunities to access resources such as finances to aid their advancement.

She added that women also tend to be meek, such that even when opportunities arise, they defer to men. This takes away the drive from women to want to push ahead.

In terms of numbers, Ms. Kiefer noted that Zambia is making strides as there has been some progress in sectors like public administration, business and religious leadership in the last 10 years.

Ms. Chumpuka, nonetheless, explains that one has to navigate their way to the top despite the challenges which should not be limited to gender.

“Navigating your way in whatever challenges you face without allowing them to weigh you down, is another way to get by. It's also good to remind yourselves that challenges are part of human irrespective of gender…” she said.

She noted that there are sufficient political, legal frameworks as well as institutional frameworks that are there to protect the rights of women. Emphasizing that, awareness of one's rights is key in overcoming gender inequality.