Gender and critical media: Information literacy in digial age – Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria

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What unites US President Barack Obama’s July 2015 Kenya visit, a South African graduate of media, communication and culture, and select Nigerian voluntary organisations? Three decades after Kenya hosted the United Nations 1985 World Congress on Women to tackle issues of gender--‐based violence (GBV) and enhance women’s societal standing constitutionally, legally, socio--‐culturally and politically, the country experienced a 2014 wave of public stripping of women – some captured on video and distributed via social media. These forms of human rights violations, especially in Nairobi, were happening in a country that not only hosted a major global women’s event resulting in decades of civil society bloom in this activism area but also whose new constitution prescribes gender equity and whose recent laws toughen punishment for sexual offences. Yet Kenya is not the only country, especially in Africa, where ‘waves’ of sexual violence have occurred; other notable examples include South Africa and Zimbabwe. With foci on Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria, we examine the extent to which selected agents have used media to build capacity of citizens to take critical approach to gender equity and helped these societies go beyond legalistic methods in challenging socio--‐cultural attitudes that perpetuate unfair or ‘different’ treatment of women. Our assumption here is that the media construct social reality in some way so in the digital era change agents use a combination of mainstream media and social media to aid critical literacy and help alter retrogressive attitudes harmful to women’s rights and progress.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-280
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of African Media Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016


  • digital activism
  • gender-based violence
  • media-information literacy
  • social media
  • social movements
  • women’s rights


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