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Charting a new path for women journalists



Charting a new path for women journalists

Nigeria is ranked 118 of 144 countries when it comes to gender disparities. Comparatively, Nigeria does fairly well in education, health and the economy. Stanley Ihedigbo reports



The major gaps are rather seen in management positions and high government positions including parliament, media industry, others.
Going by a study conducted by the Wole Soyinka Center for Investigative Journalists (WSCIJ) and Free Press Unlimited (FPU), the media sector is suffering from the lack of female journalists at the top. The report stated that the ration of female to male in management positions in the media is 2:10.

The study also found that there were 2:8 female to male senior editors in newsrooms, while the number of female journalists is relatively equal to that of men working in the media, the issue seems to be the step in between senior reporters and heads of desks to higher positions such as editor and other management positions.

Based on this development, the two organizations, WSCIJ and FPU came up with the Female Reporter’s Leadership Programme (FRLP) tagged: ‘The Report women’, aimed at empowering female reporters with skills, finesse, support and tools to be able to take bold steps that help position them for the highest leadership roles in their media houses.

Speaking at the award and appreciation ceremony held recently in Lagos, which had 15 female journalists who were picked from various media houses in the country, the Program Coordinator, FPU, Ms. Bethel Tsegaye, said the report women project was to contribute to a more diverse Nigerian media landscape that encourages female leadership. She added that they aimed to break down gender stereotypes and improves the quality of female journalism. Tsegaye pointed out that from 66 people that applied for the programme, 15 female journalists were picked from across the country to participate in the training.

According to the Program Coordinator, objective of the training was to help the female journalists become better leaders in the media, improve their journalistic skills and equip them with the knowledge to mainstream gender sensitivity and awareness in their newsrooms.

“The media landscape in Nigeria is full of capable, hard-working, female journalists; however it struggles to keep women in senior positions. The training equipped the participants with skills and knowledge to be great leaders in their newsrooms.”

Coordinator, WSCIJ, Motunrayo Alaka, lamented gender imbalance in the media. She said that it had become an issue practitioners ought not to keep quiet about, considering the fact that it had impacted negatively on the growth of the nation.

“Some media houses don’t have women in their board. How can the media houses preach against gander imbalance when they do not have the moral ground? They are not giving women in the profession the opportunity to excel. What we have in the media is unfair treatment of women and they are human beings, who need to be appreciated in all their efforts,” she said.

Alaka added that, “we hope to see stories that are inclusive and gender balanced. We also hope that the participants go back to their newsrooms and begin to challenge the norms and ask questions and help others see things in a brighter and perspective.” We are helping to shape the direction about gender issues in women leadership not just in the newsroom but also in all the professions.

The Managing Editor Online, The Nation newspaper, Lekan Otufodunrin, said that the injustice in the media now is alarming, adding that journalists reports other people wrong doing but failed to report the wrong that is happening to them. He advised the female journalists to embrace the social media to their own advantage, because it has a lot of benefit for journalism in the world.

Otufodunrin said the mentorship platform was a reinforcement of his passion for raising unique crop of journalists with the right skills set. “What this has done is a confirmation of what I’ve wanted to do. Our career somehow flounder away reporting others and not minding our careers. Journalists are like others are human beings who need to accomplish their career goals,” he noted.

The Crime Editor of New Telegraph Newspapers, Mrs. Juliana Francis, who emerged first runner-up of the award, following an assessment on the quality of leadership and stories project she did within the period given to them by the centre. Francis said that her stories project was on human trafficking which has entered into another level whereby people are been killed and their body parts are sold for medical reasons.

She said: “All the females took out from this country do not really know their fates over there because, they have been promised better standard of living. But getting there, the music change for them as most of them resort to cheap labour, or prostitutions.

The men counterpart are likely to survive than females, which has been a great concern to me and that is why my project stories based on human trafficking as my way to preach against trafficking in the country.

“In my stories, I was able to highlight and enlighten that most Nigerian women are being taken to Middle East because it is the new market for now. And as long as we are facing economic hardship in the country, the trend will continue because most women believe that it is the only way out of poverty for them,” she said. However, the Crime Editor said that she would use part of the prize to pursue her campaign against human trafficking in the country.

A broadcast journalist with the Voice of Nigeria (VON) Olufunke Fayemi won the award, with an investigative report on the poor living condition of young girls in Oko-Oba, Agege titled “The Life of Girls in Destitute Camps” and a leadership project on empowering female journalists in her organisation. While Bunmi Yekini of Radio One was the second runner up.

The fellows were tasked with the execution of leadership projects under the tutelage of mentors like the Executive Director, Women Advocate, Research and Documentation Center Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi. It also includes Deputy Director, Enterprise Development Center, Pan Atlantic University, Nneka Okekearu and Managing Editor, Online Editor, The Nation newspaper Lekan Otufodurin.

Other fellows include Faith Yahaya (The Nation), Abosede Omoruyi (Core TV), Amina Alhassan (Daily Trust), Nkechi Isaac (Leadership), Godiya Daniel (NTA,Yola), Ene Osang (Blueprint), Evelyn Okakwu (Premium Times), Ayodele Olofintuade (9jafeminista), Ifeoma Okeke (Businessday), Thelma Okoro (TV 360), Maria Albert Zirra and Nafisat Abdulkarim (Freelance journalist).

Veteran broadcaster, Mrs. Bimbo Oloyede who presented the overall prize urged the fellows to embrace criticisms with humility and accept commendations with joy. “I urge you to accept with humility any word of constructive criticism that comes from any member of your group. At this point, I expect that everybody wants everybody to improve. Again, just as you criticise,make sure you praise. When you get constructive praise from your colleagues who understand what it took you to bring out that report, it goes a long way,” she said.

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