Mary Mbewe Editorial Laureate 2020 for Africa – Wan-Ifra

Women in News Leadership Award Laureate for Africa

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Mary Mbewe is the Executive Editor of the Daily Nation Newspaper, one of the three major newspapers in Zambia. She has been in her current position since May 2017 when she joined the company. Prior to this position, she had served as Chief Sub Editor and Personnel Officer.
Mary Mbewe is the Executive Editor of the Daily Nation Newspaper, one of the three major newspapers in Zambia. She has been in her current position since May 2017 when she joined the company. Prior to this position, she had served as Chief Sub Editor and Personnel Officer. Photo Wan-Ifra

On 8 September 2020, Wan-Ifra’s Women in News named Mary Mbewe, executive editor of the Daily Nation in Zambia, as the 2020 WIN Editorial Leadership Award Laureate for Africa. The announcement will be made at Wan-Ifra’s Digital Media Africa conference.

Mary Mbewe has had a prestigious career that has spanned 30 years in the industry and includes serving as the first woman editor-in-chief of a major newspaper in Zambia. She has dedicated her work to telling human stories, often of marginalized people and communities, which too often get left behind. She has invested herself in the training and development of journalists starting their career and has acted as a mentor and inspiration to many women journalists.

The WIN Editorial Leadership Award selects one outstanding editor from Sub-Saharan Africa and one from the Arab Region, annually. The Award recognizes excellence in leadership and an unwavering commitment to equality and press freedom. Candidates are selected by the Award Selection Committee, which comprises members of the WIN Steering Committee and previous Laureates.

Mary Mbewe is the Daily Nation newspaper executive editor, one of the three major newspapers in Zambia. She has been in her current position since May 2017 when she joined the company. Before this position, she had served as chief sub-editor and personnel officer.

Mbewe started her journalism career with the Zambia Daily Mail in 1991. By 2000 she was confirmed as editor-in-chief, becoming the first woman at the paper, and in Zambia as a whole, to hold the prestigious position. She is a founding member of the Zambia Union of journalists (ZUJ), and a member of the Zambia Media Women Association (ZAMWA) and the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)’s Zambian Chapter.

Web homepage of the Daily Nation in Zambia. The paper's editor-in-chief Mary Mwebe is the 2020 Wan-Ifra Leadership Laureate
Web homepage of the Daily Nation in Zambia. The paper’s editor-in-chief Mary Mwebe is the 2020 Wan-Ifra Leadership Laureate

In her acceptance letter to Women in News, Mary expressed her passion for telling true and authentic human stories of everyday Zambians who often go unnoticed. “I am happy to be part of a team shaping a different narrative in supporting ordinary people. This award is therefore dedicated to all the hardworking men and women who spend hours making life easy for others, such as the women in shelters. And of course, to the Zambian men and women in the media for striving to be better than the best, sailing and surviving through storms in a tough field – especially the havoc caused by Covid-19.”

The CEO of Wan-Ifra, Vincent Peyrègne, congratulated Mary for the achievement and said the award comes at the right time, “Recognizing leadership and celebrating excellence is even more important in today’s context. While media and the world remain gripped in this crisis of the global pandemic, Mary continues to exemplify excellence and resiliency, bringing everyday news and human stories day after day.”

Previously the Awards have been held in-person, but due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, the award ceremony will be held virtually this year. “It was our intention to hold an in-person Award Ceremony at the upcoming Wan-Ifra News Media Congress as is the tradition,” continued Peyrègne. “The Congress itself was canceled due to Covid-19, but we are hopeful that we can hold it as planned in June 2021, with Mary Mbewe being in attendance to accept the award at that time.”

“Naming Mary this year’s Laureate takes on particular significance as we mark the 10th anniversary of our work in gender equality and media freedom in Zambia. We are very honored to welcome Mary into our esteemed group of Laureates, each of whom inspire and pave the way forward for the next generation of leaders,” said Melanie Walker, executive director, Media Development & Women in News, Wan-Ifra.

The WIN Editorial Leadership Award

Each year, the Women in News Editorial Leadership Award is awarded to one outstanding woman editor in the Sub-Saharan Africa Region and the Arab Region, annually. The Award recognizes an exemplary contribution of an editor to her newsroom, and under her leadership, the contribution of the media industry. The 2020 Laureate for the Arab Region will be named later this month.

Past Laureates from Sub-Saharan Africa are Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye from Nigeria (2014); Pamella Makotsi Sittoni from Kenya (2017); Barbara Kaija from Uganda (2018) and Anna Nimiriano from South Sudan (2019).

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

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