Twenty-one female journalists including Anita Eboigbe, HumAngle’s Managing Editor have been selected by the Wole Soyinka Centre For Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) as fellows for the centre’s 2021 Report Women Female Reporters Leadership Programme (FRLP).
The journalists were selected from online, broadcast, and print media platforms in Nigeria for the week-long programme that is in its fourth edition and supported by Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).
The Report Women – a programme which was initiated by the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) in 2014 has since its seven years of existence addressed the need of “issues of access and abuse as they affect women as girls in Nigeria.”
Initiated in 2017, the Female Reporters Leadership Programme (FRLP), was envisaged by the centre to engage stakeholders over concerns of equality in the news, newsrooms, and society at large.
The fellowship wing of the FRLP on the other hand, “equips female reporters with skills, finesse, support, and tools” to help them to take bold steps that prepares them for leadership roles in the world of media, a statement on the website of the center explains.
In its fourth edition, the FRLP seeks to create what it calls “a strong community of female reporters with leadership prowess” whose main agenda will be to initiate and drive the topic of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) across boards.
Speaking during the opening of the programme in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, Motunrayo Alaka, Director/CEO of the WSCIJ identified lack of equity and equality in newsrooms as a major problem undermining production of quality news, emphasising that the presence of women in newsrooms across the country was important as the female gender constitutes a vast majority of Nigeria’s population.
“On our way to investigative reporting, there are many things hindering the media from doing its work well. Those things are equity and equality in the newsroom, news and society,” Alaka explained.
For the media to get a high point, she pointed out that “it needs to stand on a moral high ground, stressing that between “2008 and 2010, there were no female recipients at the WSCIJ awards.”
“Presently, there are many female editors but not many editors in chief. It is clear that my kind was reserved in the room. Women are scarce as subjects, sources, expert voices in the news.”
Alaka highlighted this absence as the reason why “women are perpetrated as victims when reported.”
She noted that the first set of training conducted by the FRLP was done to “improve the confidence of women and girls. In 2019, senior editor positions were 8:2 in favour of men and 7:2 board of directors in favor of men.”
“One hundred and eighty respondents across media companies at mid career levels experience some form of equality but as we climb the ladder, women become missing,” she reflected. Alaka emphasised the role of the media in ensuring that women are adequately included in newsrooms across the nation.
“The media tells everyone in the society what to do but the current lack of equity is not a good example,” she said. “We cannot ignore 80 per cent of our population and say that we are doing professional media coverage. We are making women concerned enough that when they get to leadership positions, they tell female stories and pull other women up.”
Addressing the fellows, Joseph Amenaghawon who is the programme coordinator as well as a representative of Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), said that the training was significant because it addressed the sparse presence of female reporters in newsrooms across Nigeria; a problem which he said, “undermined” reportage of issues concerning women.
“The training is significant and has trained attention within and outside Nigeria. The absence of women in leadership in the newsroom undermines reporting of issues concerning women . It will affect newsrooms in Nigeria by infusing a gender balanced perspective,” Amenaghawon said.
“It is an opportunity to build the capacity of women to take leadership positions in newsrooms.”
HumAngle’s Managing Editor, Anita Eboigbe who was selected from a pool of applicants was present at the opening ceremony.
Some of the other fellows are Abimbola Adegboyega of the Ekiti State Broadcasting Service, Adetola Bademosi of Tribune Newspapers, Ann Godwin, a correspondent with Guardian Newspaper, Dooshima Veronica Abu, a multimedia journalist with the BBC News Pidgin, Ikpang Bassey who is the Assistant News Manager with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Abuja.
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