NAWOJ urges female journalists to report sensitive issues

Igbogi-Green Imelda, Benin

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Three-day training on ‘’Gender Equity and Safety/Gender sensitive reporting for women Journalists

The President of Nigeria Association of Women Journalists, (NAWOJ), Mrs. Ifeyinwa Omowole, has urged all female journalists to boldly report sensitive issues such as rape.

Mrs Ifeyinwa Omowole, made the call during the opening ceremony of a three-day training on ‘’Gender Equity and Safety/Gender-sensitive reporting for women Journalists at Edo State Nigeria Union of Journalists, (NUJ), Press centre, G.R.A, Benin City, Edo State, South, South, Nigeria.

The training is organised by the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) in collaboration with the Norwegian Union of Journalists, (Norsk Journalistiag).

According to Mrs. Ifeyinwa Omowole, female journalists should see to the end of sensitive report issues such as rape, ’’ as female Journalists, we have a duty to start and see to completion in the issue of rape’’.

She explained that “the purpose of the training is for us to be well equipped, it is not for you to be trained and go to sleep’’.

The National President urged all female journalists to be serious with the training so that after the training, they can pass the knowledge they have gathered to their colleagues.

Factual Reporting

She urged all female journalists to be factual in their reporting so that they can become award-winning journalists across the globe, ‘’ it is not all about you as a person to speak. It is the news you report that speaks for you. Sometimes we see most of our colleagues in, UN, BBC, VOA, it is because of the type of reports that they push out’’.

The National President also promised to train journalists throughout her tenure and also build a secretariat for training NAWOJ, ‘’ the only thing I promised after training is to set up a secretariat. Whether I am there or not, at the time they will finish building the Institute of Journalism, NAWOJ will have tools for training. I want journalists to be trained and retrained’’.

She insisted that men should be part of the training, the reason is that ‘’someone said that there is an increase in rape. For me, it is not the increase but it is the awareness that makes people come out to report. Before we use to hide it under the table’’.   

‘’We also need to consciously tell people that the fact that a lady wants to visit you, it doesn’t mean she came to visit you for sex. Sometimes in our traditions, we don’t know the difference. We need to write about these things that constitute rape,’’ she added.

Mrs Ifeyinwa Omowole stated that there is always certificates given to every female journalist at the end of the training, ‘’we give certificates so that you keep remembering that you took part in the training and not just for fun’’.  

In the same vein, Edo State Chairperson of NWAOJ, Mrs. Adesuwa Ehimuan, said that there is an increase in rape cases across the globe ‘’violence against journalists is a worrying global trend. Both male and female media professionals, bloggers, and other media players are increasing, targeted for their reporting. Yet women face increased risk due to their specific vulnerabilities entailed by gender. They are subject to the same attack, acts, of intimidation, harassment, threats, and surveillance’’.

Mrs Adesuwa Ehimuan, urged all stakeholders, policymakers, media, to evaluate how threats against women journalists based on gender can be addressed at multiple levels within work to promote the safety of journalists.

She added that ‘’ human rights violations experienced by women journalists must be addressed, in the broader context and structure of discrimination against women. This requires substantive shifts in deeply entrenched social and cultural norms, by strengthening the safety mechanism and challenging the patriarchal structure which hinders women journalists ability to report freely and advance in their profession, the role of women will be strengthened in all societies and bring a full spectrum of coverage, skill, and perspective go the media in Nigeria and the world at large’’.

Mrs. Adesuwa Ehimuan, stated that the safety and security of Journalists are essential in society,‘’ This training is apt because safety and security are vital for every journalist’s work particularly because of the various beat they cover. Women journalists deserve to have equity regardless of gender in the profession because every journalist contribute to issues of development across the world’’

According to Mrs. Rafat Salami, an Assistant Director in Voice of Nigeria, ‘’what we are trying to do, is to increase the awareness among journalists on how they can do their jobs and do it safely as COVID-19 is ravaging the world, journalists are also at risk. Our jobs bring lots of risks and COVID-19 makes it double because there are precautions we just have to take’’.

’We have been doing this project since 2007 and what we have to continue to do, is to teach more journalists on how to do their jobs more safely, also for them to understand current trends,’’ she added.

‘’The project is across Africa and it is not just Edo State. We have gone round 14 states in Nigeria already,’’ Mrs. Salami stated.

Mrs. Rafat Salami said that lots of research have been made to show that female journalists are faced with sexual harassment in the course of carrying out their duties, ‘’research shows that female journalists are faced sexual harassment in their workplace than outside their work; the bulk of sexual harassment from female journalists are faced within the newsrooms’’.

She advised journalists both male and female not to attend events alone because of risk factors, ‘’ as a journalist, don’t go for an event alone, do not travel alone, be safety conscious if you see unusual movement, know that it is time to exit that place. Before you go for an event, you must do research on the area that is the peculiar nature of that place’’.

She also advised all organisations, to set up sexual harassment desk, where journalists will be free to report sexual harassment, ‘’The greatest problem is, we don’t talk about it and we need journalists to be free to talk about it’’.

The General Manager of Radio Nigeria in Edo State, (Bronze F.M.), Mrs. Bimbo Yetunde, also urged all female journalists to know how to handle gender issues and also impart the knowledge to young female journalists who have not been trained in the job to be well informed when they are reporting.

‘’Rape cases are increasing day by day, between January to May this year, it has gone over 700 cases. We need to raise our voices and say no to rape. We also need to learn to report as professionals, let us know that we are not the weaker vessel’’. She added.

The Edo State Chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalist, (NUJ), Mr. Roland Osakwe, promised to do his best for Edo State NAWOJ and advised journalists to follow the ethics of journalism, ‘’Journalism is our core profession, and we must stand by anywhere to maintain it. We must display the ethics of this profession wherever we going, particularly now that governorship election is coming up in this state’’.

‘’Don’t allow yourselves to be used by any politician. Distinguish yourselves from politics, and do your work as a core profession in journalism. If we can be able to exercise that judiciously, you will see that you will not enter the pitfall of politicians,” he added.

There were also interactive sessions, where participants were divided into three groups to identify sexual harassment in their various organisations and the way forward.

Dramas on sexual harassment were presented by female journalists.

The programme which started yesterday, the 16th of June will come to an end on the 17th of June 2020.

Nnenna.O

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