Factors influencing utilization of the media by women parliamentarians in Kenya
The media refers to the channels of communication such as radio, television, newspapers, magazines, the internet, etc. that provide the public with news, education, entertainment, . among others. In agenda setting by the media quality has a very powerful influence on everything that happens in our day-to-day life - the ability to tell us what issues are important. Thus the two important elements of the media: awareness and information. Given the importance of media as a powerful tool in development, it is imperative that both women and men access it and utilize it for their advancement. However, there is still a gap when it comes to women (especially political leaders) utilizing the media to push their agenda. Literature gathered by the study strongly points out that the Kenyan media has a bias in reporting women's issues compared to men's. This prompted the need for this study to investigate the factors that influence utilization of the media by women political leaders in Kenya. Using mainly in-depth and key informant interviews, the study sought the opinion of the current twenty two (22) women members of parliament, four (4) senior representatives of different leading media houses in Kenya and two (2) representatives of organizations supporting women involvement with media and leadership. In addition, one women MP gave a narration on her personal account on the subject of study. The study results indicated that women political leaders have not gotten much prominence in media coverage as compared to their male counters. Also, it came out from the study that the media was an important factor in determining the success or failure of political leaders. The study pointed on factors such as; invisibility of women political leaders, media perception and stereotype, monetary inducement, lack of awareness of media governing policies, personalities of women political leaders like media shyness, few women representatives in media content decision making organs of media houses and reluctance by women political leaders to seek coverage as the main factors influencing utilization of the media by women political leaders. It is therefore evident that women political leaders face numerous hindrances in their efforts to seek media coverage, many of which are beyond their control. This being the situation, a lot has to be done by not only women political leaders themselves, but the government, NOOs supporting women's leadership as well as media houses and journalists.