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Why women need to be empowered to tell stories of other women

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…Women Radio Centre equips female journalists with investigative reporting techniques
… Media experts harp on capacity building for female journalists

Blessing Akorowosi

In Nigeria’s male-dominated media industry, experts have advocated for the empowerment of female journalists, particularly in investigative reporting.

Report on male to female journalists ratio in 2024 carried out by Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism shows that the men still dominates the media space.

On the need for women to build capacity to tell the narrative of other women, an ace female broadcaster and Chief Executive Officer of Women Radio Centre, Toun Okewale Sonaiya noted that it is expedient to empower women for proper reportage of their fellow women’s stories.

The Women Radio Centre (WRC), a female academy established to train women in media and promote excellence in women has recently trained 20 female journalists in its third cohort of female investigative reporting training.

The intensive residential training was held at the centre in Arepo, Ogun state from May 13–15, 2024 with the support of MacArthur Foundation.

Female journalists were selected from the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria and equipped with practical skills and safety measures to tell compelling under reported stories of women for a better society to emerge.

Sonaiya stated that the academy has successfully trained 63 female journalists in its 3 cohorts from 2022 to 2024 with over 2000 applicants.

She noted that there were 388 applicants this year but only 20 were selected, adding that the centre would have loved to train more female journalists but constrained by funds.

WRC CEO said, “it’s very important for women to tell the story of other women. If we do not empower and build the capacity of female journalists to do their work well, our stories will not be reported properly.

“We came up with the women radio centre strictly to train women in media to tell our stories. There are so many underreported stories of women. We are grateful to the MacArthur Foundation who saw and keyed into the objective of the initiative and has supported us to carry out this training for three years now where we gather women from across the six geopolitical zones for a residential training.

“Their trainers are practicing investigative journalists. We need to ensure that women that are in the profession are skilled and can perform and compete the same way men are competing. We are not saying men cannot tell our stories but a woman will tell the story of another woman better than a man. That is why we have equipped and shared techniques from the masters. After the training, the journalists churn in impactful and compelling stories.

“Our charge to the female journalists is that they should go out and report stories that are not reported whether positive or negative. There are lots of great women doing great things and impactful things in their communities, tell their stories and let them serve as inspiration to others.”

The Publisher of Premium Times and a facilitator at the workshop, Mr. Dapo Olorunyomi, charged the trained journalists to be committed in putting to work what they have learnt.

Olorunyomi urged them to bring to light hidden occurrences that pertains to the female folk for positive impact, saying “the society is witnessing greater odds, barriers and hedges against the progress of women.

“For that reason, there is a need to have an institution that will give attention to these kinds of problems. And it so happens that the Women Radio Centre is uniquely placed. And I know no other organisation of its type in the country that is available for this kind of mission. And again, you see that the challenge meets its full match in WFM.

“Help us resolve these huge problems of these women by making us understand it. Help free women. This class is a very unique class. Very smart people. I see their pitches too, and they have the best coaches as well,” he said.

In her presentation, Mrs. Bisola Ajibola, Deputy Director, Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) urged the participants to be courageous and security-conscious in their mission to uncover matters that affect the female gender.

Ajibola urged female journalists to care for their mental health and stay focused while following up investigations.

The rudiments of the training were— investigative reporting, storytelling, ethics of journalism, fact-checking, data journalism, safety mechanism, tools and techniques, story pitching, trip to TVC amongst other enlightening sessions.

Other facilitators at the training— Dr Suleiman Yar’adua, the Director of BUK TV and Radio and a lecturer at Bayero University Kano; Mr. Idris Mohammed, the Managing Editor of Premium Times; Maxine Danso, passionately taught the participants.

At the end of the training, the journalists were awarded certificates by the Women Radio Centre and Bayero University, Kano. They appreciated the academy, facilitators and sponsors for the rich value extended to them, promising to inculcate the skills gathered as they return to their duty post as watch dog of the society.

The participants, who had earlier expressed their expectations and fears before the training showed readiness to get to work with their impressive pitches.

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