Gender/Women in Leadership

The next generation of leaders in Kenya’s media

Posted by Deborah Kelly

Twelve women aiming to become future leaders and entrepreneurs in Kenya’s media. They were chosen from more than 500 who applied to join the inaugural programme of The Bettina Fund.

The scheme, which runs for three months, seeks to foster the next generation of women managers in a country where despite 61 per cent of journalists being female just eight per cent of the media houses are run by women. 

It was set up in memory of Bettina Peters the Thomson Foundation’s Director of Development who died in 2020. She was a tireless advocate for equality in media.

Through training and mentoring, women working in different areas of media from the traditional legacy platforms of print and broadcast to digital start-ups are learning key skills in areas such as business development, audience engagement and digital transition.

The aim is to empower them to take on senior roles and build a sustainable network of women journalists and media professionals.    

The mentors

There is a recognition of the need to tackle the gender disparities in media management positions in Kenyan media amongst leading women working in Kenya’s media. Five are sharing their experience to work in the programme as mentors. 

Pamella Makotsi – Sittoni

Pamella is the first woman appointed executive editor and managing editor of the Daily Nation at the Nation Media Group. Appointed in 2019, the Daily Nation is the highest circulation independent newspaper in Kenya.


“The only way to challenge the gender disparity in media leadership is by creating a pipeline of women journalists with the right skills to take up senior positions.” Pamella Makotsi-Sittoni


Adelle Onyango

Adelle is a Kenyan media personality, podcaster and founder of the Adelle Onyango Initiative which creates programmes that equip African youth with skills needed for the job and business markets. In 2019 she was celebrated as one of Facebook's Icons of Change.

"As an African woman in the media industry I have experienced both the power of having other African women mentor me and the confusion of having no one to hold my hand or offer insights. The latter is something I wouldn’t want any other woman to experience." Adelle Onyango

Dr Nancy Booker

Professior Booker is Associate Professor and the Director of Academic Affairs at the Graduate School of Media and Communications, the Aga Khan University, Nairobi. She is a Commissioner for the Kenyan Media Complaints Commission.


"Not many women rise to media leadership and any initiative aimed at advancing the course of women in leadership is not just a passion for me, it is a calling.” Dr Nancy Booker


Asha Mwilu

Asha is founder and managing partner of Debunk Media. The pioneering organisation brings together journalists, data scientists, filmmakers, illustrators, animators and other creators to create public interest content through the art of storytelling.

"Women make up more than half of our audiences but occupy less than a third of leadership positions in our newsrooms. If we’re to tackle issues of representation, this is perhaps where we should begin the conversation." Asha Mwilu


Dr Njoki Chege

Dr Chege is Director of the Innovation Centre of the Graduate School of Media and Communications at the Aga Khan University in Nairobi. She writes a weekly current affairs column in the Kenyan newspaper Saturday Nation. 


"We must build formal and informal mentorship networks to not only connect mentees to their mentors, but also to build the requisite knowledge and skills for the future of journalism in Africa."  Dr Njoki Chege

The Future leaders

Women journalists frustrated by the lack of opportunities to take on leadership roles in traditional legacy media organisations in Kenya have been setting up their own digital start-ups. A number are amongst the twelve women chosen to take part in the first programme and recruitment hasn’t been confined the Nairobi and its environs, they include women from Kakuma in Turkana County, Kisumu and Nakuru.

Eunice Mwaura is coordinator of the media platform Viceversa Global. She takes a keen interest in telling stories that can invoke social change.

Irene Olwande Otieno is a print journalist who enjoys production and editing. She looks forward to reclaiming her journalistic skills and abilities through the mentorship program.

Jennifer Kaberi is the founder of the online platform Mtoto News. It uses the power of media and data to provide a platform for children to participate in developing solutions to the challenges that face them.

Fridah Mlemwa is founder of the digital platform africanauthograph and has worked with a number of multinational media houses.

Margaret Chesoni founded the production company Neolight Productions. She is a post-production specialist primarily focused on editing and curating visual content.

Harriet Atyang is the Administrator at Kenya Community Media Network. She is the founder and chair of Simama Dada, a women's community based organization in Siriwo, Siaya county.

Hellen Shikanda is a Health and Science reporter at Nation Media Group in Nairobi, Kenya.

Margaret Wanjiku is a broadcast journalist with Nation Media Group in Nairobi. She is currently in search of answers on multimedia and digital content production.

Sarah Otiende is a journalist with a zeal for writing feature stories. She is currently a writer with the Nyanza Review, an online magazine.

Florence Chepkorir is a Radio News Editor at Egerton University Radio (Nakuru) and is  pursuing her MA (MJAC) - Master of Arts in Journalism and Communication at Egerton University.

Castiel Noanne runs The Millenial News a website aimed at addressing issues for Millennials and Generation Zs.

Molly Mumbi Maina is a broadcast journalist and vice chair of the Association of Grassroot Journalists of Kenya.

The team behind the programme

The Thomson Foundation has teamed up with Baraza Media Lab, an initiative working to promote a strong and diverse media ecosystem from its collaborative space in Nairobi. 

The aim is to extend the programme after the first year to include other countries in East Africa and replicate in other regions of the world.



Related content

Deborah Kelly

Deborah Kelly

Director of Training and Communications

About: Deborah plays a key part in developing and promoting our training programmes and is our specialist  on gender in media. Her recent training projects have centred on digital and mobile journalism.

Explore our projects across the globe