It’s #InternationalWomensDay 2019! Through the ReportWomen initiative, the Wole Soyinka Centre of Investigative Journalism is not only working for a #BalanceforBetter newsroom, but we are also INTENTIONALLY equipping Women and Men for a gender-balanced media coverage. We are super proud of our FRLP Fellows and partners!
The call for gender parity across boards is an ultimate call for a better functional world. The importance of women in society has always been undeniably huge. Women have proven that they are also full members of society having their influence on all areas unconditionally.Our societies are evolving, so is our attitudes and outlooks; women are no longer relegated in the various spheres of life and this is amazing. However, the percentages and ratio of female to male being heard is unimpressively low. The 2019 IWD themeBalance for Better, illustrates how there is an urgent need for a balance of roles played between the female and male gender in the society.Society says the woman is too short, too tall, too talkative, too quiet, not skilled enough, too skilled. When it’s her turn, the men in charge raise questions. It is the primitive patriarchy way but it is only a matter of time. Change has happened. Society will have to catch up.
The Wole Soyinka Centre of Investigative Journalism took to training female reporters and journalist through the ReportWomen! Female Reporters Leadership Programme (FRLP) supported by Free Press Unlimited (FPU), thereby equipping them with the right skills and tools to take on leadership roles as they influence gender mainstreaming in their newsrooms which in due course affects every facet of the society. ReportWomen! is a project of the WSCIJ. It was launched in 2014 with the collaboration of the Royal Netherlands Embassy with the goal of increasing the reportage of the issues of access and abuse as they affect girls and women in Nigeria. It initially trained 80 reporters across Nigeria, commissioned more than 31 published stories and produced a documentary – The untold stories of girls and women in Nigeria, thereby contributing to bettering the existential realities of girls and women.
Some story projects from the Fellows speaks to why the call for balance for better is not just a women’sissue, but a call todrive a better working world. “Reintegrating the Girl-child into the School System” by Funmi Ogundareof Thisday, borders on the need to avail the girl-child equal opportunities as the boy-child. It reveals that some girls, as a result of one form of attack or another, abuse and poverty drop out of school, and are not encouraged to go back because the status quo remains and no one is doing anything to change it. Funmi Ogundare’s narrative is a heart cry to the public as well as the government to ensure these girls do not become endangered species; they must be kept safe, and empowered through access to quality education which gives them a platform to stand at par with the males, thereby enabling a better economy, socially and politically.
Ifeoma Okeke of BusinessDay, a 2017 Fellow did a story on female inclusion in aviation and the challenges they face. Captioned“Females taking the lead at 40000ft above the sea level”, it is quite interesting to note that women are raising the bar and stereotypes are soon fading away all around the world, recently, Ethiopian Airline made history with an all-women flight crew.However, statistics show that only 4% of active 2556 pilots in Nigeria are female. This is consequent on the many challenges the female gender face as a result of responsibilities the society has saddled them with.
Statistics from research shows that women are more likely to be depressed than men because they go through many hormonal changes in life.“Tackling depression among women in Nigeria” is a story by TaiyeElebiyo-Edeni of the News Agency of Nigeria, a 2018 Fellow. It exposes a lot of cultural and marital issues, including domestic violence and sexual abuse, as well as ill-treatment as widows, which make them susceptible to depression.
Everyone has a role to play in ensuring a gender-balance for a better economy and state. The media plays the role of a gatekeeper, scorekeeper, and a watchdog. This goes a long way in ensuring equity in society and the shaping of public opinions. A balanced newsroom looks at stories from every side. Balance makes both equal. Equal makes both better and better yields more gain! Balance drives a better working world.
Today, the importance of women in society is beyond any suspicion. Women with their ambitions, intelligence and strength have proved that the word “inferior” has nothing in common with their gender. The Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism comprehends women as very important members of the society. To every woman, we wish you a Happy International Women’s Day.