Dr Rose Reuben touches on key areas of grooming a leader

New Content Item (1)
New Content Item (1)

What you need to know:

  • Professionally, Dr Reuben specialised in the field of sociology in the areas of gender, media and communication for social change and development studies

Dar es Salaam. The Executive Director of the Tanzania Media Women’s Association (Tamwa), Dr Rose Reuben (PhD), believes that reading, learning, training, and being mentored are the key ingredients to grooming a woman capable of leading.

Dr Reuben has been involved in building the capacity of media practitioners on the issues of gender mainstreaming, violence against women and children, media women’s leadership, safety, and security, upholding press freedom advocacy, safeguarding human rights, and strengthening democracy in Tanzania.

Professionally, Reuben specialized in the field of sociology in the areas of gender, media, and communication for social change and development studies.

She has thus worked in various fields such as a consultant who focuses on mentoring journalists on investigative and public interest stories related to women’s and children’s social rights, as a senior program officer in charge of the institution’s grants and as a senior journalist news editor, news reporter, programs producer, and presenter for both radio and television.

She’s also a Tanzania Human Rights Defender (THDRC) Board Member, The African Women’s Development and Communications Network (Femnet) representing the East and Horn of Africa Region, Board Member representing Tanzania in the Eastern African Sub-Regional Support Initiative for the Advancement of Women (Eassi), and Board Member for Women Legal Aid Centre (WLAC).

Despite her success and achievements, Dr Reuben has always categorized herself as a journalist because that is where her passion lies, so she writes for women and the community.

“When I was waiting to go to college, I came across an advertisement on Radio Tanzania. Just for fun, I tried to apply because I loved being a radio presenter. I went through three interviews; after that, I got the job, and now here I am today as executive director of Tamwa,” she says.

According to Dr Reuben, she has used her leadership position at Tamwa to build a society that respects human rights from a gender perspective through working with journalists and on mentorship.

“I work mostly with journalists who write on subjects such as human rights and gender, women, children, and the environment that surrounds women and girls. I have been on different platforms talking about the importance of human rights and gender perspectives because these are two things that go together,” she shares.

She stresses that when one talks about human rights, they ought to talk about gender as well, because women’s rights are often forgotten in the broader discourse.

Mentorship has helped Reuben become the person she is today. She thus encourages female journalists to look for mentors in order to climb the leadership ladder in the media industry. She believes it’s important to go through mentorship from an early stage, starting at the family level.

“Parents or guardians are supposed to mentor their children from a young age. Leadership knowledge is something that can be imparted,” she says, and she adds, “The first person who mentored me was my mother; when you are mentored, these people plant in you a seed of growth and prosperity.”

As a result, she has helped women journalists to climb the leadership ladder.

“I always share training and opportunities, sometimes I invite them to Tamwa. Others seek advice on how they can become leaders,” she says.

Dr Reuben believes that when women are encouraged, trained, and exposed to leadership roles, it increases their chances of attaining top positions in different organizations.

“What we are doing at Tamwa is advocating that women are capable leaders in Tanzania. This message goes out to all women aspiring to attain top roles in different fields,” explains Dr Reuben.

She further adds that they work with media to reach women, and also work with the government, and policymakers to address the issue of gender mainstreaming.

“It’s very important that each and every law and policy acknowledges women. Perhaps this will help more women stand a chance to vie for leadership positions,” she says.

As an executive director, Dr Reuben says she is happy that the violence against women and children is getting the attention it requires and being addressed accordingly.

“We always want to see media houses trigger community dialogue but also foster behavior change and influence political change. Through our capacity building to media practitioners on gender mainstreaming, we found that Tanzania has made progress,” says Dr Reuben.

At Tamwa, women journalists are mentored and provided with some mechanisms that will help them face challenges in a newsroom.

“Now we are in the process of enacting a sexual corruption or harassment mechanism that will safeguard women’s welfare,” explains Reuben. Speaking about the major challenges she’s currently grappling with, Dr Reuben insists that the media should make gender a big part of their agenda.

“Gender mainstreaming in media is still at 45 percent. This is the challenge that needs to be addressed by editors and media owners,” she says.

Despite the number of women enrolled in journalism colleges, the number who get jobs is low, and more women are resorting to different fields.

According to Dr Reuben, the reason why many women have shunned journalism has a lot to do with the issues of sexual corruption, contracts, and low payments.

“This begins at an internship level. When an intern goes to a media house for practical training, they sometimes encounter sexual corruption. Thus, it is hard for them to enjoy the work environment, prompting them to divert to other fields. The same is experienced by freelancers when submitting stories,” she explains.

As part of the solution, Dr Reuben says that students are supposed to be motivated while still in college. “That’s why I’m thinking about discussing with the board the idea of having student members at TAMWA. From there, they will have more time to sit and understand how journalists tackle challenges inherent in their field and how they manage to become successful leaders.”