The third edition of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism’s (WSCIJ) Female Reporters Leadership Programme (FRLP) has commenced in Lagos, Nigeria, with a call on female journalists to be intentional in reporting female sources if they want changes in their societies.
The introductory class focused on the status of female reporters in Nigeria’s newsroom, fundamentals of gender studies, issues with gender mainstreaming in Nigeria’s newsrooms, relevant laws and policies on girls and women, why female leadership and participation matters in the newsroom, and story and leadership project ideas
Motorunrayo Alaka, the Pioneer Centre Coordinator of WSCIJ, during her welcome note to the 20 participants of the 2019 FRLP emphasized the need for journalists to deliberately make efforts of reporting issues which will help bridge the gender gap in societies.
“We are saying let’s get intentional along the changes we want in societies, let’s say we want female persons on our boards, then you will look for the qualified female person because they are there,” she said.
The Report Women! Programme which was launched by the WSCIJ in 2014 in collaboration with the Royal Netherlands Embassy is aimed at increasing the reportage of the issues of access and abuse as they affect girls and women.
Madam Alaka indicated that a survey conducted by the Centre in Nigeria shows that there is gender imbalance in top positions in newsrooms.
She encouraged women and media managers to be inclusive, giving women more challenging roles like hard stories instead of assigning them to soft stories like entertainment and the likes in other to realise their full potential.
“We want to have equal capacity to aspire, we want to aspire as females, we want to be able to have our ambitions as female persons but this is not a takeover from men movement,” she said.
Meanwhile, men have also been called on to prioritize gender studies to push the gender equality agenda to spearhead development.
Speaking on the “Fundamentals of gender studies and navigating local realities”, Ropo Sekoni a columnist and the Chair, Board of Trustees of WSCIJ said, “If we want to change the world, gender studies should be for both men and women, because we want to prepare them for a different world than they have.”
Mr Sekoni asked women to do away with the several “false consciousness” which is wrong knowledge created about women that have been propagated over the years.
He said, women are now defending such knowledge systems which were designed to inferiorize women and support each other, adding that “all of these stereotypes were not God given, they were constructed. But it is not our fault that we should grow up, basically assuming that these things are natural.”
Participants at the training again, were tasked to be agents of change now, and adopt strategies which will ensure that women are in the mainstream of affairs.
A public speaking and communications coach, Bimbo Oloyede stressed the need for women to be soldiers of change. “Are you women ready to be the soldiers? Because nobody is going to fight this battle for you, that is the truth,” she quizzed.
They were also encouraged to be different in their newsrooms by being topical, research well, investigate, have evidence and data based, impactful, gender based among others.
The fellowship which is supported by Free Press Unlimited with the aim of building female journalists’ capacities to emerge at the highest leadership roles in their media houses by empowering them with the skills, finesse and tools they need will end on August 1, 2019.
By: Asabea Akonor
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