Alumni Stories: Jackline Lidubwi’s Advocacy for Inclusive Media in Africa

I am a Fall 2017 Professional Fellows alumna and award-winning creator/producer of Abled Differently, a TV program aired by the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation that enlightens the Kenyan public about individuals with disabilities, their personal stories, and issues that affect their lives. In these roles, I have developed great expertise in using storytelling as a tool for advocacy and understand the need for greater inclusion in media and policy. My work on disability inclusion in 2020 has sought to advance these goals, and I have engaged many policymakers, disabled persons organizations (DPOs), academic experts and other professionals this year successfully.

In the past year, I have used connections from my earlier work to continue promoting disability inclusion in an uncertain time for the world. Abled Differently won several honors for our work on inclusive media and storytelling before 2020, including the prestigious Communication Authority of Kenya Award (Kuza Award), and these accolades have helped enhance my profile and build strong networks with disability movements locally in Kenya and abroad. I have thus been able to use strong negotiation, interpersonal, and communication skills to promote inclusive media reforms and advise disability champions elsewhere in Africa on how they can engage and influence media organizations in ways that increase public understanding and support for disability inclusion.

I have done this through several virtual platforms. In August, I was a panelist in a webinar about the how the Constitution of Kenya’s provision of rights for persons with disabilities have been implemented since its enactment in 2010. I was a critical voice to the organizers (the United Disabled Persons of Kenya and the Caucus on Disability Rights Advocacy) about how disability inclusion is still needed in Kenya’s media space, and shared proven strategies to achieve it. I also shared my knowledge with disability rights advocates in northern Kenya’s nomadic counties at a webinar arranged by the Northern Nomadic Disabled Persons’ Organization (NONDO).

I have also seized opportunities to exchange inclusive media strategies with new partners in other African countries. In June, I presented virtually to 2020 Professional Fellows about how they could engage media networks in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to advocate for disability needs to public officials and educate the public about individuals with disabilities’ potential to excel in inclusive employment. I also discussed the importance of creating and championing accessibility in media. In September, I presented a paper on Access to Health Information for Persons with Disabilities during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Kenya at the 8th Annual African Disability Rights Conference conducted virtually by the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

After 18 years as a television producer at the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, I am moving to join Internews, an NGO that media institutions in over 100 countries access best practices, become more sustainable and inclusive, and deliver trustworthy, high-quality news that keeps the public well-informed and able to hold power to account. I will be the Project Lead for the Internews Wellspring Project, which increases individuals with disabilities’ participation in the media and advises journalists across sub-Saharan Africa on how to improve their coverage of disability issues. I will oversee the project’s work and engage with media leaders in Tanzania, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

My career has been dedicated to advancing disability rights through media, and my Professional Fellows project in 2017 focused on building inclusive media by training journalists, so this next phase is a natural step. I am excited to influence how African media engages individuals with disabilities on a new international level.