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NAWOJ champions gender sensitivity in media reporting

To mark the 2024 International Women’s Day, the Nigerian Association of Women Journalists, NAWOJ, has initiated efforts to improve gender sensitivity in news reporting. 

With a focus on empowering journalists and promoting gender equality in the media, NAWOJ advocates for inclusive coverage of women’s issues, aiming to amplify their voices and experiences.

The one-day training, held in Abuja themed “Bridging the Gap in Gender-Based Reporting” and sponsored by Global Affairs Canada and implemented by ActionAid Nigeria under the Women’s Voice Leadership Nigeria Project, brought together over 40 journalists from print, broadcast and online.

Speaking at the event, the National President, Nigerian Union of Journalists, Chris Isuguzo, highlighted the prevailing gender disparities in newsrooms.

While stressing the need for greater visibility and representation of women in media, Isuguzo emphasized the need of empowering women to assert their voices and actively contribute to shaping the narrative.

He said, “I think the time has come for us to begin to highlight solutions. The time has come for us to come up with strategies on how to address this challenge we face. The issue we keep talking about is the stereotypes, the issues we keep talking about gender-based violence, the issues we keep talking about cultural challenges that we face. 

“But what have we done to begin to address these issues? The solutions are in your hands. It’s left for you to take it up and begin to address them. Like I said, I aligned myself with someone’s opinion there. The issue of consistency; we are not going to allow somebody to do it for us. If we are good at what we do, everybody will come to us. Within the media environment, we have a good number of women that can excel, they are excelling, they are doing well in the industry.

“The newsroom is likely male-dominated, but the number of women we have, they are doing very well for themselves. We cannot continue to report our difficulties, difficulties are drawbacks, are laybacks. We must begin to see and discover how the men are succeeding. For instance, within the political landscape, women find it difficult to express themselves. 

“We have women that are seen, but they are hardly there. Nobody reads about them because they are reporting from an emotionally challenged point of view where they are playing up the fact that we are women. You should be able to stand side by side with the men depending on what you have to offer. 

“If they are asking you what you bring to the table, they come to the table yourself. Yes, let people now see what you are. That is it. We cannot continue to lament, we cannot continue to be magnifying these issues. Rather, we must be looking at solutions. Let’s be able to distinguish ourselves.”

Also speaking, Chairman of the Federal Capital Territory Nigerian Union of Journalists, Patrick Osadebamwen, underscored the multifaceted roles played by women in society, emphasizing the necessity of recognizing and celebrating their accomplishments.

He explained the importance of inclusive reporting, urging journalists to delve deeper into the stories of women and highlight their resilience and strength in the face of challenges.

He said, “Training like this gives you the skill set to be able to know that yes, it’s a woman here, but beside this, there are other features that have made her to be this capable to meet up with these challenges. So, you are considerate in your reporting. Women will continue to be considered as under-reported because you can never actually report all the woman is. 

“A campaign for inclusion and the critical part of inclusion is having the woman to have strong financial inclusion. Because she’s a face of poverty in a war situation. It is the woman that will not run away without picking her child. The man can afford to take off, but she cannot. 

“That appears to slow her down, but in slowing her down, it gives us room. When we report, there should be more detail about the woman.”

On her part, the National Chairperson, Nigeria Association of Women Journalist, NAWOJ, Aisha Ibrahim, who was represented by NAWOJ Vice President of Zone D, Chibzoba Ogbeche, reiterated role of men in championing gender equality in journalism, stressing the importance of cultivating gender-sensitive attitudes and behaviors among male journalists.

She said, “I think we need to sensitize the men who are more in journalism. We are still addressed as ‘Gentlemen of the Press’, which, in my opinion, I think we need to change. If we have more men in the newsroom, let’s have more gender-sensitive men. 

“It must not only be men; there are women too who are not bothered about gender issues. That’s why we have men participating in this training because as women, we cannot do it alone. 

“So, we keep carrying the men, and then also, as men, we should also keep carrying and doing our job the way we should do it and understand that we grow and keep growing. In my organization, it is changing, and I believe it is reflecting in other organizations,”she added.

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