Back in May 2016, I wrote for the Daily Nation on this nefarious issue of all male panels, otherwise known as manels. They are pervasive. They are normalised. They are problematic. The reactions to the piece have been interesting to follow, primarily via the #SayNoToManelsKE and #SayNoToManels hashtags. (Other hashtags highlighting this issue globally include #AllMalePanels).
I am very pleased to see, and be part of many conversations around this. It is encouraging to note increased awareness on how frequently we are treated to all male panels – in the media, in conferences and events. In turn, these shape perceptions, in many ways, and perpetrate the vicious circle of gendered norms. Some of the popular media shows are notorious for these manels.
Since the fallacious arguments that there aren’t women qualified or willing to show up are often used to perpetuate and justify manels, Ory Okolloh and I decided to put together a database of women in various sectors and industries across the country. 376 women and counting have signed up, and most importantly, THEY ARE WILLING to show up.
The publicly viewable and searchable database can be found here: http://bit.ly/SayNoToManelsKE
You can search by industry of interest eg tech, health, oil etc.
If interested in specific contacts and for any queries, you can write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The database is populated through this form: http://bit.ly/WomenSpeakersKESignUp
Efforts to tackle valid reservations to participating are also being pursued. For instance, public speaking workshops are being organised for those who have indicated interest.
We encourage more women to sign up, and help in tackling misrepresentation in our public spaces! If you cannot make it to an event/conference/panel you’ve been invited to, you can use this list to recommend other women, and encourage others in your industry to sign up.
Dear men, once again, a reminder, you can (and should) take a pledge not to take part in manels. We welcome a movement of bold men who will create and take such a pledge.
We need champion organisations to also pledge to not organising manels! In the meantime, we keep calling out manels as witnessed; it’s a critical first step in breaking the norm!
By the way, an all male panel with a female moderator is still a manel!
A special shout out to Sophie Mukhwana and Nanjala Nyabola for helping with organising the list, and public speaking workshops respectively. Mashujaa ni nyinyi! 💪🏾