The media has a role to play in raising public awareness on development, stability and growth in the region. This is why our Capacity and Peace building teams collaborated with the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP) to organize a 3-day training on ‘Conflict and Gender Sensitive Reporting’ for members of Nigerian Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Rivers State. The training that started February 28, 2017, and ended March 2, 2017, was hosted at our Economic Development Centre in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, and was attended by broadcasters and journalists from media houses across the state. Though the training was designed specifically for women journalists, some male journalists from Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) also attended as a show of solidarity and to benefit from the training.
Conflict sensitivity involves gaining sound understanding of the two-way interaction between activities, context and action to minimize negative impacts and maximize positive impacts of intervention on conflict, within an organization’s given objectives. On the other hand, gender sensitivity is the aim of understanding and taking account of the societal and cultural factors involved in gender-based exclusion and discrimination in the most diverse spheres of public and private life. Together, they seek to ensure stories are balanced and inclusive.
The training, facilitated by NSRP’s Lauratu Abdulsalam and Klem Ofuokwu, as well as independent facilitator Anne Ikpeme, focused on aspects of conflict sensitivity and gender mainstreaming in news reportage, program planning and delivery and feature writing. It also emphasized the roles media personnel and organizations play in either mitigating or exacerbating conflicts in the Niger Delta.
Barr. Mrs. Ukel Oyaghiri, Honorable Commissioner of Ministry for Women Affairs for Rivers State, was in attendance and urged the participants to absorb all they could to improve themselves and Rivers State by extension. She thanked PIND for creating an avenue to improve the quality of journalists in Rivers State. Also in attendance was the Honorable Commissioner of Information and Communication, Dr. Austine Tam George, who was represented by Director Public Enlightenment, Ministry of Information and Culture, Mr. Obele Chu. Mr. Obele Chu appreciated PIND’s push for peacebuilding and gender mainstreaming.
Journalists who attended the training reported a change in their perspective on gender issues and conflict. Mrs. Beauty David Ntengot, for example, a journalist from Treasure Base Newspaper said ‘If I hadn’t attended this training, I wouldn’t have known I was doing some things wrong. Now I know how to be conflict sensitive in my reporting to avoid blunder and prevent conflict.’
Mrs. Susan Serekara, the treasurer of NAWOJ, learned about accurate representation.
‘Before this training, I used to think the term “Gender” referred only to “a woman”. I now know that gender applies to both men and women and certain words can create conflict among the sexes.’
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Mr. Obiandu Madume, Chairman NUJ Rivers State Television, also expressed his gratitude for the training. ‘I learned that the news is always about the people and I will carry this message with me out there and in my reportage.’
The training was as rewarding an experience for the participants as it was for us, and we plan to continue to train media personnel on how to use their platforms to promote peace and stability in the Niger Delta.