UN Women promotes gender balance

By Henri Uche

The The need to amplify women‘s voices and encourage their participation in politics and representation in governance has taken center stage as Nigerians count down to the 2023 elections.

In a recent dialogue between media executives organized by UN Women (UN-Women) and Women Radio (WFM) with the support of the Canadian government, it was decided that Nigerian women certainly deserve more than the level and l tilt of the visibility they get from the media.

The dialogue was followed by a two-day training for journalists and aimed to equip them with skills on the most effective approach to reporting on gender-sensitive issues.

One of the key takeaways from the sessions was the burden placed on journalists to ensure that equal opportunities are given to women and other vulnerable people in their reporting.

According to UN Women Country Representative in Nigeria and ECOWAS, Beatrice Eyong, although Nigeria has produced some of the most intelligent and influential women in the world, the voice of women in Nigeria over the years has not. not been heard.

Quoting the Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed and many other Nigerian women who are making waves in different spheres of activity human across the world. , she wondered why the Nigerian media would not help women, especially unsung heroes, to come forward.

“Our women there shake the world, but here they are scorned with threats of assault and intimidation. They are singled out as belonging in the kitchen and in the other room. Gender-sensitive reporting seeks to eliminate all constraints and burdens preventing women and other vulnerable people from empowering themselves.

“Those who reject or oppose gender equality should abstain. Women need equal opportunities in education and other critical sectors to maximize their potential. We are not calling on women to be recalcitrant nor are we trying to overthrow men, rather it is a call for the media to change the ugly narrative that makes women and other vulnerable people look like humans on the way of disappearance. Gender equality aims for sustainable development that would lift women out of poverty, Eyong emphasized.

Eyong argued that if the media did nothing about the blatant act of relegating women, the situation would get worse. She also expressed the view that “wherever women are duly recognized, recognized and involved, things are going well. Much effort has been made by some civil society organizations (CSOs) to untangle women from the shackles of poor representation in power at all levels, however, more actions are needed to ensure that their light shines, the media must be in the forefront of the positive denunciation of women.

For Women Radio CEO, Toun Okewale Sonaiya, being deliberate and intentional in reporting women and other vulnerable people is a duty. According to her, journalists must be conscious and strategic in their work if democracy is to flourish in the country.

“Journalists must be deliberate to be inclusive, responsive and balanced while fulfilling their constitutional obligations. Avoid gendered words, give equal representation as news sources or news content, and be aware of unconscious biases against women. It’s not a crime if women get a front-page post,” she said.

Sonaiya, who spoke on inclusive, responsive and balanced reporting, frowned upon the little or no representation, in some cases, of women at the executive level in most media outlets, recalled the Equality Project 50 -50 initiated by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) which was designed to empower women. One of its goals is to ensure that half of the contributors and decision makers are women.

In her presentation, a gender equality activist/media strategist, Ene Ede, said that a lot will go wrong if journalists do not report gender issues correctly and change misguided narratives, adding that development socio-political and economic context of the country depended on how positively gender equality issues are brought to the fore.

Ede, known as Mama Gender, lamented the number of women in the National Assembly, INEC and other strategic positions in different Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in the country, adding that although ‘There are documents in Nigeria among political parties, businesses and the country as a whole that support women, but these documents are very difficult to implement.

“We have been involved in this campaign and advocacy for some time, and we must continue to spread this message. Women and other vulnerable people should not be treated with contempt or as second class people. The media has the power to shape the conversation there. We have to be very sensitive in our choice of words. Stereotypes are unacceptable. We don’t drag anything with you; we are only saying that we have the potential to reach any level in life. The system must be designed to enable us to achieve our highest purpose,” she stressed.

Similarly, Wole Soyinka Center for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) Executive Director Motunrayo Alaka, who spoke on the RUSH Model: A Catalyst for Good Representation and Reporting, reminded journalists that they are therefore the leaders of the civic space; it is their job to put things in the right perspective as opinion shapers in society

Alaka was of the view that nation building is a function of fair, balanced, objective and gender sensitive reporting. She asked journalists to be careful how they present stories, adding that any poor presentation of information could trigger a backlash from the public.

“Our culture is one of learning. RUSH stands for: Report Until Something Happens “We have to go down into the backcountry and find these women and other vulnerable people (the underreported) and get them to the flash point,” a- she challenged media professionals.

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