Freelance journalist Regina Kulindwa has won multiple awards for her work as a radio reporter and producer in Tanzania.
Based in the city of Mwanza on the shore of Lake Victoria, Regina says she fell in love with journalism right after secondary school when she had the opportunity to do social work and it struck her that the society still needed people that could speak out, call attention to problems, and strive to contribute to good governance and better health care and education.
At first hand, she saw the effects of social ills from child marriage to drug abuse and environmental degradation. “So when I got a chance to continue with higher education, that is where my journey started,” she says.
She went on to specialize in reporting on health and issues around youth and women, because these communities are under-served by the Tanzanian media. Over her seven years as a journalist, she has always advocated accountability to the public. Her work has brought national recognition to her reporting at the annual Excellence in Journalism Tanzania awards.
Now happily married with three lovely children, Regina says that although she has seen positive changes in Tanzanian society over her career, the journalism environment still is not friendly especially for female journalists in this male-driven society. They can count on little support from management, and some media owners have not trusted female journalists enough to give them leadership roles.
There are signs of change. One encouraging development is the increasing number of honors and awards for the work of women journalists, she says.
Yet although women are the pillars in most families, they are still neglected by the local media.
Youth issues are also underplayed.
This is particularly the case when it comes to the widespread custom of marrying girls at an early age, often before their mid-teens. In many Tanzanian cultures, marriage for teenage girls is seen as a means of protecting them from the shame of premarital sex and marital infidelity, and as a way to get financial security for families and their daughters.
With her experience and sensitivity to the problems of women and youth in her society, Regina is perfectly placed to report on the social impact of child marriage. As she puts it: “Going forward, I believe supporting my work will encourage other women and ignite a flame in other female journalists to enable them to help their surrounding communities.”