Journalists Trained on Gender Sensitive Reporting

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UJU Gender workshop

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The Uganda Journalists Union in collaboration with the Norwegian Union of Journalists train journalists on gender sensitive reporting and mainstreaming women issue in the media

THE Uganda Journalists Union, UJU, has called on news managers in the country to be gender sensitive in reporting women issues. The group made the call during its Gender Sensitive Reporting workshop organised for journalists in the country in collaboration with the Norwegian Union of Journalists from March 13 to 14, at Kampala Holiday Express Hotel.

Eva Stabell, Norwegian Union of Journalists International project manager, said in a brief speech emailed to participants that they must realise the great value of equality between genders. Stabell said there was need for more women to show their power through media, not as housewives, mothers or glamour models only and definitely not as victims but as the strong, decision making and hard working members of society. The training was aimed at improving on the quality of gender sensitive reporting in Uganda, examined bottlenecks encountered, and devised means and ways of overcoming challenges encountered while carrying out in-depth analysis and debates on issues concerning women.

One of the participants at UJU Gender workshop
One of the participants at UJU Gender workshop

Participants noted that lack of appropriate tools and knowledge to give adequate coverage in exposing domestic violence, rape, divorce, inheritance, sexual harassment, sexual abuse, lack of access to education and health plus lack of equal opportunities in the economy. The journalists discussed internal and external dynamics of gender mainstreaming and how to investigate and report stories involving women. While gender refers to both sexes more points were raised on women simply because they are the marginalised lot.

At the end of the workshop, the participants identified that lack of knowledge, consciousness and interest of gender sensitivity by news managers at media houses; biased mindset and stereotyping of what women’s roles should permanently be like using women in advertising and portraying women as sex objects; lack of knowledge and skills by journalists to make a clear distinction on what should be considered a gender sensitive matter, and deliberate negative reporting by the media on women and their activities are some of the factors affecting effective gender sensitive reporting.

Others are biased attitude by society towards women that relegates them as a weakling and the media completes the damage by carrying and disseminating such negative information to the public; women themselves, especially media managers, have done little to narrow the disparity in acquisition of opportunities available, and superiority complex by women managers and inferiority complex of junior working women has helped men to continue dominating women especially on matters pertaining to equal opportunities available.

The UJU noted that with the exception of the mainstream media houses which run special programmes or pages and pullouts on women, the rest do not consider women issues a priority for their readers, listeners and viewers. Adding that majority of women members of parliament have done very little to articulate issues that concern women both in the House and outside thereby failing to give effective representation of their constituents. It lamented that some of the organisations that purport to speak for, defend and promote women’s rights, are only concentrated in urban centres leaving the majority of feeble rural women enduring poor health conditions and domestic violence, among others.

Participants at the workshop
Participants at the workshop

According the union, the inability of some journalists to cover women could be attributed to poor working conditions and lack of capacity to investigate and report gender related stories. It noted that the ministry of gender, labour and social development has failed to come out with clear policies that will promote emancipation of women, and indeed gender sensitivity.

The journalists also deliberated on the means and ways of improving their work and engendering gender sensitive reporting. They recommended that journalists, both men and women, interested in gender issues and those to be identified as potential communicators, should be sensitised and prepared to assist to train other journalists in the country. And that there is need to organise gender sensitive workshops in all regions including stakeholders like government officials, legislators, media owners, local leaders, religious leaders and senior editors.

It urged media houses to include in their house-style the development and promotion of gender sensitive reporting; promotion of affirmative action policy by government and that women media managers should become more gender sensitive and lead by example especially on stories pertaining to women’s rights. It noted that women leaders or managers, including women senior editors, should stop being insecure and fighting or sabotaging fellow women.

The participants advised leading experts on gender issues like officials in government and civil society to sensitise the public, create awareness, and should be accessible to the media for effective dissemination of information. It said that affirmative action should not be discarded as a useless policy and stereotyping in society which permanently dedicates certain roles to women should be discarded since society is dynamic and the roles of both men and women have become complimentary.

It encouraged journalists to study laws and policies on gender issues, carry out more investigations or research so that they can report issues from an informed opinion; trained journalists should report authoritatively and expose violation of women rights without fear or favour and to disseminate accurately and responsibly information that ensures gender sensitivity. And that trained journalists should be capable of reporting and producing high quality stories on gender issues with special focus on women rights. It urged the UJU to intensify collaboration with international partners like the Norwegian Union of Journalists in planning, designing and implementing a broader national gender mainstreaming training programme for the country.

Participants at the workshop included men and women journalists, staffers and freelancers attached to newspapers, radio, television plus stringers and correspondents attached to News Agencies. The workshop was organised with support from the Oslo, based Norwegian Union of Journalists.

— Apr. 27, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT

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