Media urged to give female politicians more coverage

-By Tobi Oyetunde-

Nigerian journalists have been encouraged to give women in politics more coverage in their daily reportage. The call was made by stakeholders in a media roundtable put together by International Press Centre (IPC), Humanity Family Foundation for Peace and Development (HUFFPED) and West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) with the support of PEACETECH Lab.

At the event, WANEP presented the result of its online survey that showed that “women are not positively portrayed in the social media.” WANEP maintained that women participation in politics and assumption of a leadership role in the Nigerian political environment is pertinent and women should be encouraged to participate. It added that women participation could be achieved through the introduction and enforcement of a quota system.

A guest speaker at the event, Mrs. Yinka Shonubi, Editor, Health Style Plus Online, affirmed that the media has failed in giving women equal space they give to men in politics. She said that while men enjoy media presence, women were relegated and portrayed as second fiddle. She, however demanded that the media should stop the stigmatization of women and publications that could discourage them from aspiring for political positions.

Noting that, “Poverty is one of the hindrances to women contesting for political positions in Nigeria”, she posited that women should be granted the same opportunity as men.

“Women need to be given the same leverage and opportunity in politics to encourage more women in aiming for political positions”, Shonubi said. She further encouraged women to pull their weight to make their impact known and also urged the masses to support the right women to make them get to political positions/offices.

However, Mr. Bolaji Adebiyi, Editor of This Day newspaper, opined that the reason women are yet to get more media coverage could be because women in politics are not media friendly. He urged women to make a conscious effort in accessing the media.
“Women might not be media friendly which could be why they get less representation in media.

“Women should consciously approach the media and make information available to the media,” he said.

“Women have to put themselves in a position that when you come to me, you have a story to tell,” adding that it would make them get more representation in the media.

Also contributing, veteran journalist, Mr. Tony Iyare, stated that women would have to consciously strive to put themselves in the media.

“You don’t beg for power, you have to fight for it. Women should take strategic steps in using the media to make themselves known,” he said.

Meanwhile, the lead speaker, Mr. Lekan Otunfodurin, Managing editor, Online, Nation Newspaper, in his presentation, advised women to have thick skin that would enable them to absorb criticism and hate speech thrown at them in the media.
He also advised women to develop a strategy in making the media come after them for news.

Embrace ethno-religious tolerance, U.S. Ambassador urges Nigerians

=By Funmi Falobi=

U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Samuel Brownback, has urged Nigerian political office holders, representatives of civil society and religious leaders to avoid amplifying ethno-religious tension in the country and to focus on peace building.

 At a one-day national youth dialogue on ethno-religious tolerance, organised by the U.S Consulate General Lagos, in partnership with the African Youths Initiative for Crime Prevention (AYICRIP), Ambassador Brownback, who met with a group of religious leaders during a recent visit to Nigeria, commended increased inter-faith engagement and dialogue in Nigeria, but noted that the country can do more to protect citizens’ right to religious freedom.

 “When I visited Nigeria in June, I met with communities from all different faiths located all over the country and heard about how interfaith groups and people from every religion have come together to begin stopping the violence at the community level, which is a great starting point,”  Brownback said.

“However, we need to do better than just achieving tolerance; we need to truly care for each other. The people who stand for peace do not do this because they are from the same ethnic group, or because they share a common religion.  They believe the lives of everyone are sacred,” he added.

 U.S. Consul General John Bray, who opened the event, reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to supporting initiatives that promote peace and admonished Nigerians to ensure that cyclical communal violence does not threaten national unity.

 “Each of us has a role to play in tamping down tensions between communities of all kinds,” Bray noted.

“It is in your hands to ensure that this tragic violence does not descend into broader ethnic and religious fighting, and a cycle of reprisals.  We must all make sure that the fighting does not eat away at the fabric of Nigeria, the multi-religious and multiethnic tolerance that makes this a great and unified nation,” he said.


MRA, KICTANet launch AU Guide for Human Rights Defenders

=By Funmi Falobi=

Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and the Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet) have launched “The African Union: a guide for human rights defenders in the digital age“, an advocacy tool designed to enhance civil society engagement with the African Union system on digital policy issues.

In a joint statement, the two organizations hinged the publication of the advocacy guide on the fact that the AU is an important political actor on the African continent and a regional interlocutor in the international arena, which makes it imperative that organisations seeking to advance respect for human rights in digital policy have the right knowledge and skills to engage the AU.

 They explained that the aim of the 43-page guide is to help civil society organisations who are conducting or intend to conduct policy advocacy within the African Union system on the human rights aspects of any ICT or digital policy issues at the AU, including for example network disruptions.

Mr. Edetaen Ojo, MRA’s Executive Director and Ms Grace Githaiga, Co-Convenor of KICTANet, said: “Whether you have experience of engaging with the AU but are lacking ideas on how to use the AU to advocate for human rights in the digital age, or an experienced digital rights defender unfamiliar with the AU, this guide is for you!”

 The guide presents an overview of relevant organs, departments and agencies of the African Union, outlines how they operate and provides guidance on the opportunities that exist for civil society as well as strategies for ensuring effective advocacy engagement on relevant digital policy issues.