Since its creation, UCOFEM has been working to increase the representation of Congolese women in the media for a more gender-balanced reporting with more female resources. Representation of women in the stories published in the Congolese press was only 19% in 2015.

With the support of Free Press Unlimited, UCOFEM was able to produce and publish a new edition of Directory of Women Resources in the DRC (FERES): a publication that contains around 4000 contacts of women throughout the DRC who can be contacted by Congolese media as a resource person. FERES aims to have more women consulted as resource persons in interviews, talk shows or debate programmes. This publication has been available since December 2017, and has proved to be successful amongst media professionals.

Access to women in the media

When UCOFEM started, they had around 40 domains. Now with the support of Free Press Unlimited, UCOFEM has 60 domains that include experts in communications, politics, but also housewives and even sex professionals. UCOFEM believes that every woman in any field has something to say, and wants to give a voice of women throughout the DRC. “Now with FERES we have access to women in a lot of domains and regions, even in the center of Congo and new provinces like Kalei. We are very happy the media find our work a quality one,” says UCOFEM director Anna Mayimona.

Media professionals find this directory very useful because if they need women to speak in a report or interview they can directly access the list of contacts of FERES. Women on this list are already prepared to be contacted and when filling the file they accept to be contacted by the media. This also solves the issue of access of women in the media.

More gender-balanced reporting

The percentage of women working in the Congolese press (33%) is rather satisfactory. However, very few of them are in a management position and only few are engaged as a journalist or reporter. Only in 19% of the content made by Congolese media a women is the central topic or used as a source. With FERES we hope to improve especially the percentage of women used as resource for articles, debate programmes or comments.

Instead of making a new edition in a few years time, UCOFEM and Free Press Unlimited decided to have an ongoing version of the FERES directory that is updated continuously. Improving the social image of women is a common dream not only for UCOFEM and Free Press Unlimited but every organisation advocating more gender-balanced reporting.

The Congolese Union of Women in the Media (UCOFEM) is an NGO founded in Kinshasa, DRC in 1997. It brings together nearly 300 women working in the public and private media in the city of Kinshasa and the provinces of West Kasai, Eastern Kasai, Bas Congo, Bandundu, Ecuador, North Kivu, Maniema and Katanga. UCOFEM promotes the access and image of women in and through the media. Its vision is a world in which women and men enjoy equal rights in all areas, especially in the media.