Pamela Sittoni, the editor of NMG-owned The EastAfrican newspaper, was on Wednesday honoured with the Women in News 2017 Editorial Leadership Award at the Women in News summit in Durban, South Africa, in a colourful ceremony marked by clarion calls for gender equality in newsrooms.
Ms Sittoni was named the 2017 laureate for sub-Saharan Africa alongside Egypt’s Karima Kamal, a columnist and contributing editor for the Egyptian daily Al Masry Al Yom, who was named the 2017 laureate for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
The summit was organised in association with the 2017 World News Congress and World Editors Forum.
The award is part of WAN-IFRA’s Gender and Media Freedom strategy, being spearheaded through support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).
It is the first time that the award has come to Africa since its inception in 2014.
“It is important to have women playing a major role in defining what is reported and how it is reported,” said Cecilia Julin, the Swedish ambassador to South Africa, as she presented the award on behalf of Sida.
“The Women in News Editorial Leadership Award recognises exceptional contribution by a female editor to her newsroom," she said.
"The award seeks to recognise excellence, and serves as inspiration for the next generation of media leaders, many of whom often lack female role models in their own newsrooms or media environments.
Ms Sittoni described the award as humbling.
“I’m not only encouraged to keep up the work but also challenged to live up to the spirit of this award by supporting my colleagues on their way up,” she added.
She urged media owners and managers to wake up to the reality that excluding women from decision-making in media is to “exclude a half of the potential ideas”.
“It’s akin to setting off on a long trek with only one shoe,” she said.
Ms Sittoni is Kenya’s most senior woman in the print media, in a career spanning 15 years.
Fellow laureate Ms Kamal dedicated her award to the freedom of press and speech.
“My professional journey and my journey as an activist for rights and liberties have focused on two main axis: defending the freedom of press and the freedom of expression and defending women rights, especially the right to equality,” she said.
She has had an illustrious media career spanning 45 years and is the author of several publications on personal status laws, women’s rights and the affairs of the Coptic community in Egypt.