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April 21, 2024
You are currently viewing Panelists decry unfair, stereotyped  media reports against  women
Discussion panel on “Media Representation of Women in Leadership Positions”, organised by the America Embassy to mark the 2024 Women’s History Month in Abuja

Panelists decry unfair, stereotyped  media reports against  women

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By Joshua Olomu

A panel of women leaders drawn from the media and various Civil Society Oganisations (CSO) has called for an end to unfair and stereotyped media reports on women, especially those in appointive positions.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the discussion panel was part of an event organised by the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria to mark the 2024 Women’s History Month in Abuja.

The event tagged “Media Representation of Women in Leadership Positions”, had in attendance women from different backgrounds, including the media, public service, as well as women’s rights advocacy groups.

According to the panelists, Nigerian media often    have “ biased” portrayal of  women, especially those in public appointive positions, as weak and incompetent.

They lamented that media reports on women were largely  focused  on  probing their  characters and personal lives instead of  issue-based reports.

The panelists noted that the trend has always demoralised and discouraged women from actively participating or taking leadership responsibilities.

They called on the media in Nigeria to uphold the tenets of fairness, objectivity and balance in its reportage  of issues affecting women.

Linda Akhigbe, Seniour Special Assistant on Strategic  Communication to President Bola Tinubu, said : “ The media in Nigeria seems to trivialize  efforts and achievements of women and focus on their personal lives.

“Women should work together more to have more voices; such collaborations will make them tell their stories objectively.

“Besides, women need to strive to be very good and consistent at what they do because you cannot be relegated  when you are good at your work.”

Ladi Bala, former president of NAWOJ, said : “ The newsroom is a reflection of the bigger society, and even in news reportage, women are under reported.

“There is need  for  media re-orientation,  gender policy in newsrooms and news should be framed  in such a way that women are not stereotyped in reports.

“Women journalists need to be passionate and  deliberate in reporting issues that affect women, and there is need for women in positions to be proactive in engaging the media.”

Also,  Inimfon Etuk, Founder of She Forum Africa, said : “ Women need to be more deliberate and active in telling their own stories because they have to fight for themselves.”

Zainab Okino, Chairperson, Blueprint Editorial Board, said: “What is happening in the media space is a reinforcement of old cultural narratives that do not accord women a place society.

“The media is simply amplifying what society already set – stereotyping and reporting women vulnerability and everything society views them to be.

“I want our women to prepare themselves because they will always meet stormy waters on their ways.”

The stakeholders called for  more women media entrepreneurs for them to have space to tell their stories   loud and clear as possible.

Judith Walker, Executive Director, Development Research and Projects Centre(DRPC), made a presentation on “Gender Norms and Women Appointive Positions in Nigeria”.

She noted that there was a huge gap in how the Nigerian media describe and present the strengths, skills, and competence of women and men in appointive positions.

According to her, media reports on women are  often sensationalised and tend to focus on their competence and qualifications, while stories about men  are focused on   facts.

“While women are much more likely to be described as ‘scandalous’, ‘incompetent’, and ‘corrupt’ in media coverage, softer terminology is more likely to be used in stories about men, such as ‘mismanaged’, ‘misappropriated’ or ‘investigated’.”

“Women also face character attacks ranging from their leadership style to moral integrity and men are also less likely to be described as incompetent,” she said.

Earlier in his remarks, Mr Art Brown, Acting Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy, said  U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Nigeria has a long-standing commitment to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.

“We recognise that the media plays a vital role in shaping public perceptions and influencing societal norms that is  why this discussion today is so important.

“When the media perpetuates stereotypes and undermines women’s leadership abilities, it creates additional barriers for women seeking to enter and excel in the political sphere.

“We support initiatives that promote gender-sensitive reporting, challenge biases, and amplify the voices and achievements of women leaders,” he said. (NAN) (nannews.ng)

Edited by Ekemini Ladejobi



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