Women Need Mentorship, Not Affirmative Action
By Peter Mwaura
Whatever reasons that may exist to explain the shortage of women writers on the Nation’s op-ed pages, shortage of women would-be writers is not one of them.
I know this from the number of women who have written to say how they have been frustrated while trying to write for the Nation.
Nancy Wacinga, for example, who says she is well-versed in climate change, states that she wrote an op-ed about the subject but it was not used.
“No feedback, nothing,” she says. Equally, Susan Mugwe says she has been submitting articles on political economy but none of them has been published.
Roselyne says she has observed that unknown individuals rarely get the opportunity to voice their opinions.
“I would like to participate more, contributing articles regularly; what I need is an opportunity to do so. I have tried to get on board, I have not yet succeeded.”
Another reader, a male who does not want his name revealed, says that for every article published he loses about three others that are never published.
“I recall once we had a small quarrel with Andrew Ngwiri, then editing opinion pages, and he arrogantly told me that he used to have more than 15 articles to choose from any given day.”
“This sort of oversupply creates very stiff competition for space. Which is good as it can push standards high. However, it also makes editors extremely arrogant and insensitive and never ever ready to groom writers.
“That lady who wrote to you, for instance, wanted to be groomed, to be tutored, to be encouraged, moulded, et cetera, but editors have no time for that and in any case they are not short of materials.
“I have always found it very frustrating why it is so hard to reach editors and discuss materials with them before writing or before publication. And when articles are rejected, no editor bothers to explain how your work has failed to meet their publication criteria, et cetera.”
The reader also says he recently had a small article published in the literary pages of the Saturday Nation.
“I was very happy with the editor. For as long as I have contributed to the Nation for over 15 years, no editor has ever shared with me his edited version of my article and to ask me if I have any strong objection to any editings or alterations.
“Ng’ang’a Mbugua was the first and I felt very honoured. But there are many cases where great writers are lost because they give up after submitting a few articles and not getting published. Of course, I do appreciate that newsrooms are busy and hectic.