Knowing that many female reporters shy away from the technicalities of the extractives, Opeoluwa Akintayo of Sweetcrude Reports Media Limited organised a one-day training on energy beat reporting for thirty-four female journalism students at the Nigerian Institute of journalism (NIJ). Her intention was to bridge the gender gap in energy beat reporting. Opeoluwa Akintayo, who is the only female reporter at the Lagos branch of her organisation, noted that the leadership project eroded her fears and gave her the needed exposure and platform for future speaking engagements. She said the fellowship has also encouraged her to mainstream gender and feature more women in her reports. To sustain the outputs of her intervention, Opeoluwa created a Whatsapp learning and sharing group named Press Ladies.
For her story project, Opeoluwa conducted an interview with one of the few leading females in the Oil and Gas sector, Dr Ibilola Amao, the CEO and Principal Consultant of Lonadek Oil & Gas Limited. She was drawn to doing the story because not many females are found in the industry leading and at the same time running fantastic homes. Dr Amao’s ability to keep all of these going was worth celebrating, and the story worth telling. The story brought to the fore a lot of gender issues affecting women in the oil and gas industry and generally. The unavailability of mentors, discrimination against women in the sector, girls shying away from technical subjects and lack of support from spouses, were some of the issues identified.
Azeezat Olaoluwa, a news anchor, reporter and presenter with TVC News, took her female colleagues on a deliberate journey in transforming them into bold, assertive and intentional women who refuse to be deterred to reach the top and make a difference in their chosen career. She set off to encourage these women to step up on their careers by providing direct mentoring to them individually. The platform also enabled her to build a support system for female colleagues in her organisation. She has been able to use her newly acquired sense of confidence to engage with management on behalf of some of the ladies who have been able to get new roles in the organisation through her support. One of such example is a reporter who has now commenced her own show on the television.
Azeezat’s story project titled “High Population: Nigeria Battles Misconceptions, Religion in Tackling Surge” centered on the population surge in Nigeria. A major highlight of the story is the blind spot – the men who are the major contributors to the population growth as they could get many women pregnant at once. This has been ignored globally for too long. Azeezat advocated for more family planning methods for men and access to safe family planning services for women. Another highpoint of the story is the research on natural contraceptives for men; the discovery of some seeds and plants, which she is currently engaging the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research on, to know what they can come up with in order to curtail the surge.
Seeing that interns in her media organisation lacked the needed attention for a seamless transition to media practice, Taiye Elebiyo-Edeni, mentored seventeen interns. She engaged the interns on news writing skills needed to succeed in the journalism profession. She also exposed them to leadership and other modules that were taught at the training she attended with the WSCIJ earlier. She created a networking platform where interns learn continuously from one another. The training brought about improvement in newsroom productivity, as stories filed by interns scaled up tremendously. The interns she trained now cover events with little or no supervision. Consequent upon the training, Taiye’s colleagues have been encouraged to mentor interns. Reporters are now assigned to interns by desk heads and the Editor-in-chief. An Intern Desk has also been created to ensure continuation and Taiye Elebiyo-Edeni has been appointed as the head of the desk.
Taiye did a two-part story on depression and how it affects women and invariably productivity. Her story titled “Tackling Depression among Women in Nigeria”, and “Depression: Young widow’s nightmare”, reveal the grave extent to which depression has eaten into the fabrics of womanhood, not just in Nigeria, but globally. She reinforced the urgency with statistics from a survey she conducted to investigate if there were laws and policies that protect widows’ rights in the country, as well as the challenges widows are up against after the death of their spouses. In her story, she educated women on the need to recognise the thin line between grief and depression, and how to tackle it headlong.
Subsequent to the four days training, which opened the Female Reporters Leadership Programme (FRLP) Fellowship, Ejiro Umukoro implemented a number of related activities for her leadership project — including training and mentoring interns on gender reporting and career path options in the media industry and Mentor-A-School project to promote anti-secret cult gang awareness in two secondary schools. She also trained members of Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) and the Nigerian Union of Journalists on storytelling; gender balanced reporting and media entrepreneurship. The project has made much impact in the lives of youths and students, especially female. “Seeing participants discover the vast opportunity for career growth and self-development in journalism gave me the most satisfaction”, she recounts. She intends to sustain the impact through her media school, Lady E Language Clinic (LELC), and Get Inside Me (GIME) project.
In her undercover investigative story titled “Secret-Cult-Gangs – The Disturbing Rise of Female Secondary School Member”, Ejiro revealed how girls in secondary schools were being aggressively recruited by male secret-cult-gangs for sex, money and power. The story spoke to pertinent gender issues around female secret cult gangs and activities like violence against girls, sexually transmitted diseases, physical abuse, and substance dependencies, among many others. The story gained a lot of publicity so much so that government institutions are beginning to look into the case to curtail it once and for all.
Enato Isukul organised four trainings to sensitise the female journalists and interns on the importance of gender mainstreaming in newsrooms. There were a total of forty journalists and sixty-five interns in attendance at the meetings. The training focused on understanding gender issues, how to be relevant in the newsroom, and value driven leadership – with relevant materials and content necessary to help advance the careers of the participants. The trainings helped to erase most of the clichés wrongly applied to the female gender, and this has birthed a conscious gender balancing of reports by participating journalists. Enato noted that her greatest achievement with the FRLP project was helping interns chart a career course in journalism. She is determined to continue to sustain the project.
The use of drugs among young women especially in recent times is quite alarming. Enato in her story “Drug Abuse among Female in Bayelsa State” focused on the prevalence of drug abuse among girls aged between 15 and 25 years in Bayelsa State. She connects the rise in killings, cult groups and other crimes in that part of the country to the increase in drug use. Citing real life example, she pointed out the causes, implications and ways to mitigate the problem of drug abuse. She further identified stigmatisation as the reason many girls who are into drugs do not seek help. The story has enabled government interventions into helping the addicts through rehabilitation processes, trainings and campaigns to sensitise the public about the ills of drug abuse.
Fidelia Agwuncha, a news reporter and anchor with TV360 Nigeria, became more conscious of the lack of basic reporting skills in interns, and the gender gap in reportage in her newsroom as a result of the FRLP Fellowship training. She thereafter committed to changing the orientation of young female journalists in her newsroom, particularly interns.She trained the interns on how to use new media for accurate news reporting and how to create gender balance in script writing and programme contribution. She also ensured that people with special needs were included. For Fidelia Agwuncha, the fellowship programme has helped her go beyond being an ordinary news writer and anchor to seeking to be a game changer. She has been able to contribute to mainstreaming gender in her organisation’s reporting.
Fidelia in her story “Women Challenging the Stereotype in Commercial Driving” examined female commercial drivers, their motivation and challenges. Female commercial driving, though not often a common sight is the reality of some women who have taken on the role of the breadwinner of the house. In her story, she highlights their major challenges which are trust and funds. She believes the story would go a long way to tell women that they are not limited by their gender, but only by their minds, and can do whatever they put their heart to. She also believes it will positively influence children, who are most times with their mothers to dream big without limitations.
The need for female journalists to stay on top of their game in career and business using the new media platforms spurred Funmilayo Ogundare, who currently heads the education desk in ThisDay Newspapers, to organise a seminar tagged “Harnessing New Media Tools for Effective News Reporting in the Digital Age”. The one-day training, which was facilitated by two resource persons and a representative of a management staff at THISDAY, saw to the enlightenment of participants on the various opportunities embedded in new media and how it can be maximised. As a result, the participants made effort to improve and update their profile and social media network, even as they avowed to begin to use it to gather, analyse and disseminate news.
In her story project titled “Reintegrating the Girl-Child into the School System”, Funmi Ogundare delved into the issue of out-of-school girls. The story revealed that rape and stigmatisation, poverty, early marriage, ethnicity, as well as lack of security and safety measures in schools were associated with girl-child education. Funmi used her story as a call to action for parents as well as the government to ensure that girl-child education is taken seriously, by consciously reintegrating girls who are out of school into the school system.
A Senior Associate (Content) and Abuja Correspondent for Pulse.ng, Goodness Adaoyiche’s impact in her newsroom will continue to resonate. She had realised from the Report Women! Female Reporters’ Leadership Programme that gender mainstreaming was not a priority at her media organisation.
Although, working remotely from the Lagos office meant distance from her colleagues, Goodness employed multiple social media tools, such as WhatsApp, Slack and Skype to engage her colleagues and to constantly remind them of the need to bring more women into the picture. This worked like magic! “For the first time, a female video editor was hired to join the Pulse Tv Team. It used to be just female presenters and producers,” she said. Going by her growth, Goodness now represents the Head of Editorial & Editor-In-Chief at some engagements in Lagos when he is unable to attend from Abuja.
“The Untold Story of how 13-yr-old Ochanya Died While Seeking Education” by Goodness highlights the direct effect of the government’s failure in tackling the issues of basic education, and child molestation in Nigeria. Using late Ochanya as a case study, Goodness focuses on the plight of young rural girls seeking quality education. Gender issues like violence against children (female), sexual assault, and girl-child education were raised in the story. She has however, through advocacy, been able to push for the renovation of the only school in the community late Ochanya lived with her parents to stop other girls like Ochanya from going through the same ordeals she went through in search for quality education. Also, the story was a call to action to parents, guardians, government and the society at large on the increasing cases of child molestation and defilement in the country.
The producer of ‘Big Story’ on Channels Television, Ini Victoria John-Mekwa, observed that the media seemed not to favour female resource persons. For this reason, her leadership project concentrated on populating newsrooms with more female resource persons. Her leadership project which spanned a period of three weeks featured a report on the poor representation of women in the legislature. Also, she was able to influence the inclusion of females on the Vox Pop Page of the Punch Newspaper, which until then had prominently featured only male resource persons. She also noted that producers in her newsroom now intentionally involve female resource persons in their programmes.
Ini did a story on a young mother of two who is a victim of domestic violence. The story focuses on the trend of young girls who become unplanned mothers and the attendant consequences of unplanned motherhood. In the story, domestic violence and teenage pregnancy were two pertinent gender issues highlighted. Worthy of note is the fact that the young mother in the story was to be empowered to start a trade, as the story got the attention of non- governmental agencies, who promised to take the matter up amidst other promises.
Choosing to bridge the gap between the theoretical and practical phases existing in mass communication and journalism, Adejoke Fayemi, Head of operations, Ray Power 106.5 FM, organised a one-day workshop – Campus Media Connect. The participants, especially interns from her media house are now more professional in their approach and handling of stories. They also now have their gender lenses on and their on-air presence has also improved greatly. Seeing the huge result, Adejoke, who already has started a WhatsApp group and has engaged three media houses in Kaduna to help with hands-on training of the budding journalists, intends to take the project a step further.
“I am considering registering this programme as an NGO. I believe this can provide me the platform to extend this privilege to more students and provide them with more professional assistance. This will guarantee the continuity of the project,” she revealed.
Joke Fayemi’s human angle story “Lost Innocence: A Story of Child Defilement in Kaduna”, examined sexual assault of minors in Kaduna State with a focus on how to help them medically, socially, psychologically and legally. Joke exposed to her audience that child rape is real and that any child, male or female, rich or poor, could fall prey to sexual molestation. All of these she nailed in the audio documentary she put together for the story. The story calls for the prosecution of perpetrators, and the provision of help to victims.
It was very unsettling for Nneka Luke, a senior reporter, producer and presenter at Liberty Television and Radio Kaduna, seeing the interns in her newsroom unproductive and running errands for members of staff. She decided to make the period worthwhile for the 100+ interns. She took the bold step to organise training and mentoring programme for the interns, with the aim of equipping them with the needed journalism and leadership skills. This was a welcome idea by the entire management and staff of her organisation, which lent their support in various ways, including having to take the interns on various issues relating to journalism. Speaking of the early results of the training, Nneka remarks, “Over the years we had issues or failures of segments and inadequate vox pops in our news bulletins and programmes”. The interns have impressively filled these gaps and are doing excellently well. Well commended by various heads of department of the organisation, the training has been entrenched in the structure of the organisation with a functional department named ‘Intern Orientation’, which ensures that every new intern undergoes the training at start. The unit is headed by Nneka herself.
Nneka Luke’s story x-rays the challenges of women with disabilities in Nigeria’s electoral process, especially in the 2019 general elections. The story, “Women with Disabilities Lament Being Sidelined Ahead of 2019 Elections” questions the Independent National Electoral Commission’ (INEC) commitment towards mainstreaming these physically challenged women in the electoral process. It also unveils the desire of these women to be voted into various political offices, as well as query the delay of the bill for persons with disabilities in Nigeria. She made a case for physically challenged women as full right citizens who should be allowed to exercise their franchise, by showing clearly that some of them are very educated and intelligent and can make positive impacts in the nation if given the chance.
Theodora Aidoo, broadcast journalist and Head, News Department of Taabea Television, one of Ghana’s television station, decided to take the learning from the Report Women! Female Reporters’ Leadership Programme (FRLP) to female media students in Ghana. The objective is to instil self-worth in aspiring female journalists and to help them become more informed, innovative, and well poised for newsroom opportunities, through a capacity building forum, on which she engaged her colleagues as resource persons, aside from involving the management of the media schools. Theodora has influenced a lot of processes in her organisation, apart from the impact she is making with the media students. One of such is the employment selection process, which used to be in favour of men; but now, that narrative has changed. Another big one is the review of her organisation’s newsroom policy, which has now accommodated two female staff (including herself) in managerial positions. She is excited about the outcome and hopes to continue to carry out regular assessment of the project, together with reinforcing learning through online platforms.
Theodora’s story “Kayayei by Day, Prostitute by Night” revealed the menace of child prostitution in Ghana, particularly Kumasi, the capital of Ashanti region; this stemmed from rural-urban migration, poverty and unemployment. Girl-child prostitution, gender gap in employment, rural unemployment, and cultural practices that promote gender inequality are some gender related issues that Theodora highlighted in her story. Kayayei is a Ghanaian term for head porter or bearer. Theodora’s story has attracted a number of attentions and is likely to steer further discussions around curbing the menace of child prostitution.
Wemimo Adewuni is a multimedia journalist with Radio One 103.5 FM before moving to Nigeria Info 99.3 FM Lagos. She organised a one-day workshop for thirty-five participants from three stations: Bond FM, Radio One and Metro FM; and a one-month mentoring programme on WhatsApp to show the participants how much they could achieve if they intentionally work at it. On the WhatsApp group named ‘Intentional Journalists’, which she created, Wemimo got other capable hands to mentor her colleagues on fact checking, story writing, investigative journalism, grant writing, social media branding and CV writing. The intervention birthed a renewed passion for journalism among participants. Some have begun to apply for fellowship from the links she shared, and some who prior to the event did not have social media accounts also opened. It was indeed an impactful session with Wemimo which she intends to continue.
Wemimo’s story on energy theft, is a nagging issue with the Nigerian power institutions and the general public. In her story “Shocked to Death in Makoko – Energy Theft, Underdevelopment and the Complicity of the Police”, Wemimo recounts the ugly scenario which led to death of a two-year old boy due to the negligible act of Power/Energy officials and their illegal cohort in Makoko, one of the ancient communities in Lagos.
A major gender issue directly connected with this project is the story of the widow with 7 children who runs a day-care where the 2-year old boy, who was electrocuted was being kept. The widow who collects 50 Naira as daily pay from mothers who patronise her, was made to pay the sum of 50,000 Naira on account of bail by the Police while the perpetrator of the evil roamed free. Consequently, a police officer has shown interest to follow the case up, following consistent sharing of the story. The widow was interviewed live on radio. A follow up on the story also got the attention of the public, which have also reached out to give her some money to take care of her family. The Police Public Relations Officer in Lagos alongside Wemimo have also vowed to find the policemen who extorted the widow.
The absence of a health plan for staff and given the rise of nursing mothers in her office, Yinka Olatubosun had a major concern about the safety of her colleagues at THISDAY situated on a high-risk neighbourhood (with a truck busy road leading to it) of Apapa, Lagos. , As such, she focused her leadership project on sensitising her colleagues on the need to develop a sense of security, while also calling on the management for a health care policy change. Yinka organised a seminar tagged, ‘Sisters Staying Safe’ on occupational health and safety for female journalists in her organisation. A few journalists from other sister organisation (Arise TV) were also present. Many of her female colleagues have made lifestyle changes following the seminar. Yinka is proud of the outcome of the project. She says, “Although we may not be able to change the health care policy in THISDAY at the moment, we have moved from general passiveness to collective affirmation of our humanity.”
“Art within the Prison Walls”, an unconventional story by Yinka, focuses on two women who championed art inside prison walls through a collaborative project in the Ikoyi prison, Lagos. These women alongside Yinka became the actors in a male dominated prison. They led a team of male artists to a 3-day workshop and exhibition which involved drawing, painting and exhibition, and had to endure the sexual harassment from inmates to do the work. Among the inmates who participated in the workshop, the thematic preoccupation of their paintings was centred on women – wives and mothers who have remained loyal and are still fighting hard to get them justice. The prison story itself had got the attention of Omooba Yemisi Shyllon Foundation which had donated art materials to the prison at Ikoyi. There is the possibility that the art in prison project will continue for a long time.
Ruth Olurounbi erstwhile Business Editor, at Per Second News currently works as Media and Communication Manager with YIAGA AFRICA. In that capacity, she was able to influence the inclusion of a discourse on gender mainstreaming in training organised by YIAGA AFRICA for forty journalists. She also strengthened the resolve of young journalists pursuing a sustainable career in the media. As such, she trained a blogger and a youth corps member on gender balance reporting, to beef up the representation of women in the media. The major highpoint for Ruth on the project was seeing male journalists’ commitment to eradicating sexism, and their commitment to improving the percentage of female representation in the media. Ruth has plans underway to start a training programme that would help women become very good sources for media professionals, particularly in the way they answer questions.
Ruth in her story “Nigeria Restrictive Laws and Women’s Sexual Reproductive Rights” highlights women’s sexual reproductive health rights and the Nigerian laws that restrict them from accessing their basic human rights. Through interviews with young and middle-aged women, mostly from the northern part of the country, Ruth brings to bear the challenges of these helpless women who become brides and mothers by coercion. The story sought a redress as it were to the issues of women’s right within the ambits of sexual and reproductive rights. According to the story, the law, culture and religion have conspired to restrict women’s rights in a severely patriarchal Nigeria, and the impact this has on millions of girls and women is that it hinders their growth and productivity.
Sharon Ijasan, a Labour and Education Correspondent for Television Continental (TVC) organised a training for newsroom staff on gender balance reportage. The training had in attendance two female producers and eight reporters. Her objectives were to educate the reporters on gender friendly language, to ensure that reporters make effort to mainstream gender, take leadership positions, and equally support women who are leaders in the newsroom. Her Deputy Director of News, Stella Din-Jacob, was on hand to educate the newsroom staff, producers and breakfast crew on the need to be gender sensitive. The training was an eye opener, as reporters began to see and tell stories from a gender balanced angle; there was more female on-air presence; and gender friendly language was used more intentionally in newsroom reporting.
“Women in Fish Business: Lack of Facilities Hinders Growth” by Sharon clearly spells out the challenges and setbacks women in the fish business are up against. The story shows that women play a great role in fish business but benefit little or nothing. This is because they are not allowed to fish or empowered to expand their business to contribute to the economic growth of the industry. As a result of the story, which is still developing, the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture has pledged to investigate the issue of preservation and loan system for women in fish business.
Awoken to the domination of men in the society, and a saddening reflection of same in the newsroom, Stephanie Adams, a project officer at Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, Abuja, saw the need to share key lessons from the Report Women! Female Reporters’ Leadership Programme (FRLP) with young ladies in her organisation. She organised a training tagged – Young Women in Leadership. Highlighting the successes of the step-down training, Stephanie said “the Young Women in Leadership project has created a pathway for young ladies to have confidence on their leadership roles and to exercise leadership without compromise”. She also added that the gender policy in her organisation was reviewed as a result of her intervention, and a female has been included at management level as a deputy director. Also, the organisation has grown in number with mostly young women. Stephanie hopes to push the project beyond the ambit of the FRLP; she plans to keep a close eye on all participants, to validate their intentionality through a quarterly session, and weekly update via WhatsApp.
Stephanies’ story titled “Drug Addiction among Northern Women” delves into the core gender issues around the reasons women abuse drugs in the northern part of the country. The story reveals depression, polygamy, dysfunctional homes, and emotional neglect as the major contributory factors to the abuse of drugs and eventual addiction by women, especially in the northern parts of the country. This discovery goes beyond the peripheral reason and counters the initial thought of northern women finding solace in codeine cough syrups to avoid alcohol which is against the Islamic religion.
Temitayo Ayetoto of BusinessDay Newspaper organised a one-day discussion session with her colleagues, to address the noticeable gender gap existing in the voices heard in news reports, which many reporters are either unconscious of or less concerned about. The participants, who were from key desks, including maritime, technology, real sector, agriculture and women magazine, made personal commitments to always make gender balance considerations when gathering and writing news. The session yielded positive results as anticipated, the Agric editor, also female, tabled concerns raised on gender imbalance in newsroom leadership at the training to the newsroom manager, who then directed that the conversations should involve every member of staff and not the female staff only.
“Lack of Resources Pairing Rural Women’s Agric Productivity”, a story by Temitayo highlights the challenges constraining the productivity of rural women in agriculture even though they constitute nearly 70 percent of the labour force. Some of the challenges, which borders on gender issue such as lack of recognition for women’s effort, economic disadvantage as a result of denial to land access (a patriarchal formula for accessing land), and access to credit facilities, impair the chances of growth of women in the industry unlike their male counterpart, who make up less of the labour force, but are widely recognised. Temitayo hopes the story gets the government to design policies that promote gender inclusion, particularly in the agricultural sector. Also, she believes that it will help discourage the subtle discrimination against women in the industry.
Stemming from the urge to catch them young, Queen Esther Iroanusi, a journalist with Premium Times, took an exemplary path to empowering the students of Government Secondary School, Karu East with leadership skills, paying keen attention to self-esteem, communication skills, and personal hygiene. She conducted an evaluation assessment for the students at the end of the programme, and coincidentally, the winner was a girl. Her newsroom also reverberates the impact of the leadership programme as she became a leading voice of a gender balanced report and representation in newsrooms.
‘Period Poverty’, the common phrase that explains the despicable state some teenage girls and even adults find themselves during their monthly menstrual cycle, was deeply looked into by Queen Esther Iroanusi in her story project titled “With Government Failing, Nigerian Youth Take Over Fight Against Menstrual Period Poverty”. The story uncovers the plight of teenage girls who cannot afford sanitary towels, hence resorted to unhygienic options. The story also brings to fore how the government has ignored several calls to end all taxes on sanitary products. However, youths across the country in various groups and NGOs have taken it upon themselves to strive to reduce period poverty among girls, especially in the rural communities by making these products available. The story has since attracted positive attention as some lawmakers have promised to tackle the issue on the floor of the senate. Also, youth advocates are encouraged to keep up the good work with alleviating period poverty in their communities.