By: Sallu K. Swaray
MONROVIA: A one-day workshop for Liberian Journalists has ended in Monrovia with a call from conveners in the media to always prioritize gender sensitivity in their reportage of the aspiration of women who want to go into politics.
Held yesterday at the Bella Casa Hotel on 3rd Street, Sinkor, the workshop was organized by the Angie Brooks International Center (ABIC) with 30 journalists from various media institutions in attendance.
The ABIC’s Coordinator and Initiator of the Women Situation Room (WSR), Madam Yvette Chesson-Wureh, who spoke at the opening of the workshop, said the media workshop marks the important parts of the women situation room. She said having training sessions with journalists as “we go forward is one of the Center’s major concerns not only for political journalists but for the media in general”.
Mrs. Wureh indicated that the training of journalists is not only important during this season of electioneering when lots of people are joining to be heard in the media in making their respective cases, but it is also important to prepare journalists to fairly cover activities concerning women in politics even beyond the electioneering period so as to rid the country of the current gender disparity in Liberian politics today.
She noted that women don’t get that much coverage and attention in the media because the women don’t have money, noting that political activities of men are predominantly featured in the media, especially on talk shows because the men have money and are empowered to do whatever they want to do to sell their messages to the public.
“Another thing we found out”, Mrs. Wureh said, is the manner in which journalists report women in politics; that women don’t go into politics because of what is between their legs but what is in their ears and that worries us; because women don’t go into politics because of what’s between their legs, they get in politics because of what is in their ears.”
According to her, “It is amazing we find that journalists don’t want to know what is in their ears; that they don’t want to hear their ideas, they don’t want to know how women are going to make the difference. And that is amazing especially in Liberia.”
“This is of course because we know the politics that went into making Ellen Johnson Sirleaf first female president of the Republic of Liberia, the first elected female president in the whole of Africa; however we then found the dismal situation where our numbers, the women numbers in the Legislature has dropped significantly and we wonders why,” she lamented.
Mrs. Wureh observed that the women also noticed that when they are in politics, the violence that covers them as women is worse than the violence that covers them.
The ABIC official further added that when people are violent during political campaigning, their violence doesn’t go after women anymore to scare them but to kill them, adding “And we wonder where the journalists are.
“I was here when Facia was talking about changing the narratives,” she said, saying further that we all know the power of the pen, which she said could be used to change the narrative of reporting women in politics in Liberia
“It will be great if that power could be used for the good of Liberia,” she said, noting that “It will be great if the power could be used to change the narrative of how the media report women issues in Liberia politics.”
“It will be great if we could be accountable,” Mrs. Wureh said, pointing out that they are aware that many politicians have journalists working for them in Liberia – whether it is radio station, TV station or just simply writing further.
She reminded the journalists to be dutiful and impartial in their reportage, and said “You became journalists because you have conscience. And I am speaking to you because I have been a journalist; I know what it is to be a journalist.”
Yvette Wureh who said she was once a television anchor at the LNTV urged the journalists to report fairly, and not report women with bias.
She further implored the media practitioners to ensure that they capture the ideas of women and their ability to bring about transformation, and not to be critical on them socially regarding by featuring what clothes they wear and the extent to which they show their breasts, saying further, “I urge you to report political activities with gender lens.”
The Workshop was facilitated by Facia Harris and Eva Flomo, all of the ECOWAS Radio in Monrovia.
For Her part, Ms. Flomo said that journalists must always be neutral and not be bias in reporting, adding that the journalist must always tell the truth and do away with things that has the propensity to cause stir or hate speech in elections reporting.