PERCEPTIONS OF FEMALE LEGISLATORS IN THE 11TH PARLIAMENT ON MEDIA PORTRAYAL OF WOMEN POLITICIANS IN KENYA

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ABSTRACT
The study sought to examine the perceptions of female legislators in the 11th Parliament on media portrayal of women politicians in Kenya. The objectives of the study were: Assess the experiences of women politicians with how the media cover them; Find out the factors that influence the coverage of women politicians and establish the contribution of women politicians towards the creation of an identity of a female politician in Kenya. The study adopted a phenomenology qualitative research method and employed purposive sampling procedure to identify a sample of five female legislators for in-depth interviews. The five female legislators were purposively sampled from the Mzalendo Report of 2015 on the most active women Parliamentarians in the 11th Parliament. Data was collected through an interview guide. The data was analysed thematically and presented in narratives around the research objectives. The study found that the media demean and trivialize women politicians through invisibility on media platforms. It also found that the media apply collective judgement on female politicians which is not the case with male politicians. The study found that the media use uneven standards of scrutiny on female and male politicians. The study recommends specific policy guidelines for gender sensitive language use in media houses. It recommends gender training for media workers and women politicians. The study also recommends continuous liaison between parliament, the media council, the Association of Media Women in Kenya and the Editors Guild to develop content for training of elected and aspiring women politicians. This will assist women politicians to build confidence and develop content for effective engagement with the media. The study recommends the need to conduct a similar study on the perceptions of male politicians on media portrayal of women politicians in Kenya.

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