NAWOJ educates women journalists on safety, gender based reporting

By Lateefah Ibrahim-Animashaun, Lagos 

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The National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), in Collaboration with the Norwegian Union of Journalists, have educated women journalists on safety, combating sexual harassment and professional reporting of gender issues.

The 3-day training with the theme: ‘Gender Equity and Safety/Gender Sensitive Reporting for Women Journalists’, had about 30 women in attendance, to learn topical issues affecting women journalists at their work places.

Held at the Nigerian Union of Journalists Press Center in Ikeja, Lagos state, the training was organized in the wake of recent attacks on Journalists around the world, to serve as a form of sensitisation to Women in the pen profession.

The two days training had topics on harassment, safety, gender equity among other class exercises, aimed at equipping the Women Journalists on best practices around the globe.

Speaking at the event, Deputy Director Digital Media at Voice of Nigeria, Mrs, Rafat Salami, said there was need for every journalist on the field to have a safety kit ready at all time, and not waiting for the period of emergency.

She shared the women into groups for them to brainstorm on possible items to take along when going on a long-distance coverage as all participants agreed on items to prioritise when going for a sensitive beat coverage.

While speaking on sexual harassment, she said all organisations should recognise the fact that sexual harassment is a misdemeanor and then create a system for every journalist to report when they are being sexually harassed so that actions can be taken.

“It should be listed in the staff regulation as a crime and it should be enforced. There should be a sexual harassment desk. An officer to be in charge. If there is a problem regarding sexual harassment, he /she would take it up. We should investigate all cases of sexual harassment and if found guilty, the culprit should be severely sanctioned to serve as deterrent and also eliminate sexual harassment in the work place,” Mrs.Salami said.

Empowerment gap 

Another trainer, Veronica Ogbole, while analysing the difference between gender equality and gender equity said gender equality is quantitative, meaning that it is more about number, while gender equity is about fairness and carrying women along in all spheres.

She explained that empowerment is vital for both gender for developmental purposes and wherever there is empowerment gap between both genders, the nation would become backward.

“It is important to input gender issues in policy design and implementation because the gap is there already. A survey carried out in 2003 revealed that just 25% issues were featured on media and one of the ways of bridging the gap is by training women journalists to start reporting issues concerning gender,” Ogbole said.

Gender Disparities

The Chairperson of the Lagos state chapter of NAWOJ, Dr. Adeola Ekine, said organising a training on gender equity and safety of female journalists is aimed at raising awareness about gender disparity in journalism and empowers female journalists to access equal opportunities and resources in their fields.

She said female journalists often face unique safety challenges, including harassment and threats.

“The Training will equip them with tools to navigate these challenges and stay safe while reporting. It will also enhance a diverse and inclusive newsroom, where gender equity is practiced, leading to more balanced reporting which reflects a wider range of perspectives on issues.”

The training she said will also boost the confidence of female journalists, encouraging them to tackle stories they might have avoided due to safety concerns or gender bias.

“Female Journalists are expected to use the knowledge from the training to become advocates for gender equity and safety, both within their organizations and in the broader media industry,” she said.

Also speaking at the event, the secretary of the Lagos chapter of NAWOJ, Lilian Ario said the training on gender equity and safety for female journalists will also contribute to a more inclusive, safer, and professionally enriched journalism landscape.

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