Opinion

Why we need more women in the media

"Having more women in the media means that we have a more complete, and authentic portrayal of reality."

.للقراءة بالعربية انقروا هنا

By Manar Alhinai

“Females around the world are demanding to be heard, and for their issues to be raised in the media” says Manar Alhinai. Illustration by Shaima Al Alawi.

A report published earlier this year by the World Economic Forum cited a 2015 study that revealed that only  24 per cent of news sources are women. Another study published in 2017 by the Women’s Media Center found that 63 per cent of TV credits and bylines were that of men.

As I write this, females around the world are demanding to be heard, and for their issues to be raised in the media. Arab social media users across the region are engaged in discussions about the #MeToo movement in Egypt, as well as the harassment and discrimination women face at work across different countries. In another conversation, some users on social media have also demanded that media organizations work with creatives from within Arab countries instead of hiring talents from abroad.

When I asked some of my fellow friends and acquaintances who studied journalism why they did not pursue careers in the field, they cited factors such as the lack of female leaders in the sector, tight deadlines and the lack of flexible work options as the drivers behind them opting for careers in public relations or corporate communication instead.

“Today the majority of the content produced by Sekka is made by women, and more specifically the women of the Arab Gulf States and the wider Arab world” states Manar Alhinai. Illustration by Shaima Al Alawi.

As the storyteller-in-chief and co-founder of Sekka, one of the reasons why we established our media company more than three years ago was to increase the digital content that was coming out of the Gulf region; content that was produced predominately by the youth of the region, who uncovered stories about the arts, culture, people and travel. Our goal was to provide an authentic narrative of one of the most misunderstood regions in the world, and to shed a positive light on the great things that are happening here every day.

Without planning for it, today the majority of the content produced by Sekka is made by women, and more specifically the women of the Arab Gulf States and the wider Arab world, particularly as we expanded our geographic coverage to encompass the larger Arab world. Our team members craved a platform like ours, one that provides flexible work options, and one that has female leaders they can relate to. That is when we knew that Sekka was important not only for our young content creators, but also equally important for our women. Our team of talented and dedicated women works on everything from business development to content curation to programming to editorial design to social media management and video and audio production.

“Today, as we work more with female team members and interns, we see a month-on-month increase in the number of female subscribers and consumers of our content” says Manar Alhinai. Illustration by Shaima Al Alawi.

At a time when advocates are demanding higher representation of female employees in the creative industry, and specifically within the art sector, in which women are underrepresented, we are honored to be involved in a positive change not just in our magazine and platform arms, but in our latest art venture. Last April, we established the Khaleeji Art Museum, a digital museum experience that sheds a light on artists of the Arab Gulf States in an effort to introduce and showcase their work to international visitors. In fact, one of our core missions is to represent more female artists from the region through the virtual art exhibitions that we curate and hold.  We were honored last week to unveil for the first time, some paintings made by the late Zakia Abdulaziz Al Dubaikhi, a talented Saudi female artist whose lifelong dream was to organize an art exhibition that was dedicated solely to her work. We observed a record number of visitors within the first hours, from people all over the world, interested to know more about our featured female artist.

Having more women in the media not only translates to better representation, but it is also good business. Having more women in the media means that we have a more complete, and authentic portrayal of reality. By dismissing the perspective of women, you are dismissing the insights and stories of half of society. By increasing the representation of women in the media, you will also gain the trust of your female customers, which can also increase the number of female readers and subscribers to your media publication, or platform. Today, as we work more with female team members and interns, we see a month-on-month increase in the number of female subscribers and consumers of our content. 

With digital infrastructures in place, and the ability to conduct work online and through a variety of virtual platforms, we hope that we get to see different media organizations reporting on the increased number of female team members among their workforce. Until then, we at Sekka will keep supporting female creative creators, and shed a light on their work.


Manar Alhinai is the co-founder and storyteller-in-chief of Sekka.

The views of the authors and writers who contribute to Sekka, and the views of the interviewees who are featured in Sekka, do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sekka, its parent company, its owners, employees and affiliates.