The core purpose of the annual event hosted on Friday, 25 August 2023 at the Prestige Auditorium, Pretoria Campus, was to highlight challenges that women encounter within the digital space. The panel discussion tackled the crucial issues of cyberbullying of female journalists and online gender-based violence under the theme “Navigating Social Media Spaces Safely.
Panel discussions also delved into three other important topics: cyberbullying, gender sensitive writing and reporting as well as gender discrimination in newsrooms and glass ceilings, which deeply affect women in the media and communication sector.
The panellists analysed the nature and impact of these issues and discussed possible ways to provide a safer digital environment.
The panellist included:
- Nomonde Mnukwa - Government Spokesperson and Acting Director-General at GCIS.
- Mamaponya Motsai - CEO at Fray College.
- Slindelo Masikane - eNCA Senior Reporter.
- Boikutso Tsikane - Project Manager: Print and Digital at MDDA.
Addressing the critical concern of cyberbullying and online violence, Nomonde Mnukwa, spoke about the effects of cyberbullying that can lead to one feeling angry, humiliated and hurt, resulting in depression or suicide. She went on to remind the women in the audience of the power they hold and that they should not be undermined and challenged by hate on social media.
“I want to remind you about the power women possess. We can change environments and move mountains. We are unstoppable, so do not think that you are powerless if you are a target of online violence,” said Mnukwa.
Boikhutso Tsikane’s message was about dedication and personal growth. She emphasised the value of relentless effort and the purist of skills enhancement. “As young women in the media field, we have to prioritise our work, deepening our skillset and practising how to say no when needed.”
She concluded by encouraging individuals to strive for excellence no matter how tough it may get. “Approach each day as an opportunity to take another step towards becoming the best versions of yourself!”
ENCA Senior Reporter, Silindelo Masikane, who has been a victim of cyberbullying and online violence, believes that harassment comes with the territory if you are a reporter. She gave examples of being harassed during student protests she covered in 2021. According to Masikane she posted a tweet, stating that she would not be intimated and would continue reporting on the protests, which resulted in her being threatened and bullied by people on social media.
Masikane advised the audience not to pay attention to the hatred online and to continue doing your work without fear of favour. “Do not entertain the hatred and bullying, simply block and delete the individual and move on," she said.
Mamaponya Motsai highlighted the need to confront the issues of patriarchy and misogyny that continue to hinder the voices of women within the media and communication industry. Her call for action is against the silencing of women and advocating for a shift towards inclusive practices that empower and uplift females.