United Nations charges journalists to make women’s participation in politics an integral part of reportage

The United Nations (UN) Women have called on the media on need to make participation of women in politics an integral part of their agenda, pointing out that research has shown that Women’s views and voices are marginalized in world news media.

Penpushing reports that, United Nations Women Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Beatrice Eyong made the call in her welcome speech at the National Dialogue with Media Executives on Gender Sensitive Report organized by the United Nations (UN) Women in collaboration with WFM Radio station and Government of Canada held in Lagos

‘Nigeria has a vibrant media which has been in existence for over a century. There are public and private or independent media institutions operating in Nigeria cutting across both print and electronic media. The Media in democracies is commonly called “the fourth pillar of power”. Media organizations and journalists play an important role in governance by providing information and shaping public opinion in what and how they report’, she noted.

Penpushing further reports that, Eyong, said as the country move towards  2023 general elections, the United Nations(UN) Women recognizes the need for the Media to be more aware of gender issues in the elections and be encouraged to be gender sensitive in reporting including encouraging women to participate more in the electoral processes.

The United Nations (UN) explained that, while ensuring that Media maintains political neutrality, emphasized that the importance of gender sensitive reporting and encouraging women to participate and vote cannot be overemphasized.

‘Furthermore, the Media has a leading role in ensuring that citizens are adequately mobilized to participate in the electoral process and that its outcomes are free, fair, credible, and acceptable to the generality of the Nigerian electorates’, she added.

Penpushing also reports that, Eyong explained that, the objective of the dialogue is to discuss ways of encouraging gender sensitive reporting of electoral issues, including positive portrayal of women to the public.

‘We will also use the dialogue to agree on how best UN Women and the media organizations could partner together in building the capacity of reporters to better understand gender issues in the media in carrying out their daily assignments’, she stressed.

‘In order to bridge some of the identified gender gaps in the Nigeria media, the UN Women in collaboration with Women Radio has to organize this dialogue with media executives and training for media reporters on gender sensitive reporting towards 2023 general elections and beyond’.

Penpushing reports that, she noted that, since Nigeria’s return to democratic rule in 1999, the Nigeria media has been in the vanguard of civic education, educating and informing Nigerian electorates on the electoral processes, legal framework for elections, party and candidate campaigns, voter registration, the need for violence-free elections, and promoting accountability in the democratic process.

‘This role is supported by the Nigerian Constitution which upholds the right of the media to hold the state accountable “The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people” (Chapter II, Section 22 of the Constitution of Republic of Nigeria, 1999)’.

‘Generally, research has shown that Women’s views and voices are marginalized in world news media, men’s voices dominate in hard news, and men dominate as spokespersons and experts. The Global Media Monitoring Project findings also illustrate how gender biases and prejudices are likely to influence the news content’.

‘Women are very unlikely to be the central focus of a story; news and stories are more likely to reinforce than challenge gender stereotypes, and gender equality is not considered newsworthy. Female politicians in Nigeria often complain about negative or unfavourable portrayals in the media especially using language’.

‘There is need for the media to debunk the myth that the public sphere is the exclusive preserve of men, there should be equitable access to the media for female politicians and the media should use gender friendly language’.

Penpushing further reports that, United Nations Women Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS appealed to media executives to harness the power of the media by using their respective media platforms to join the laudable project of supporting women through a positive coverage as Nigeria move towards campaigns for the 2023 general elections.

‘It is my sincere hope that, today’s deliberations fill us with renewed hope to make actionable commitments towards advancing rights of women and girls. UN Women is committed to strengthening our partnerships, which will be discuss later as we progress’, she emphasised.

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