Thursday, July 18, 2013

Journalists Receive Training On Gender, Human Rights Reporting

Ms. Evelyn Nuvor
In recent times, media reports have shown that issues bordering on the economic development of women and young girls  especially domestic violence, witchcraft allegations, widowhood rites, female genital mutilation, rape, defilement and forced marriages among others, are more rife than before.

The question however asked is, are journalists now reporting on women’s rights issues more than previously or there are more of such issues now than before? What about the argument that, journalists are merely reporting more on such issues without any form of public education on the consequences of perpetuating such abuses perhaps, as a result of practitioners lack of adequate knowledge in reporting on gender and human rights.

The aforementioned, including many others are the reasons why the Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Centre [Gender Centre] under its “Women in Leadership” project, organized a three-day capacity building workshop for a select number of twenty six media personnel from the Upper East, Northern, Brong Ahafo and Greater Accra Regions.

The workshop was aimed at enhancing the knowledge of journalists made up of senior reporters and editors to better understand gender and human rights issues very well and communicate them appropriately to the general public through their news reportage and on-air talkshow programmes on television and radio in order to effect positive change.  

The programme which started on Wednesday 17th July in Accra and is expected to end on Friday, July 19, would equip participants with the necessary knowledge and skills on issues on the rights of women in order to ensure effective and better reporting on such issues.

The Programme Manager of the Gender Centre, Ms. Evelyn Nuvor, said the low participation and representation of women in governance processes and structures in Ghana was well established as their political decision-making from the district to the national levels could best be described as fragile. 

Participants at workshop
Buttressing her arguments with some statistics, she said since the introduction of the 1992 Constitution and successive general elections that followed, women won 16 (8%) out of 200 seats in 1992 whereas in 1996, women won 18 (9%) out of 200 seats with a marginal increase of 5%.

Though when the number of seats in parliament increased from 200 to 230 in 2004, she noted that women, could only account for 25 (10.5%) out of 230 seats and a regrettable reduction from 25 seats (10.5%) to 19 (8.3%) in 2008. 

Ms. Nuvor provided similar statistics for that of women’s representation at the District Assemblies level and stated that it was in attempts to address these disturbing trends that, the Gender Centre sourced funding from the Dutch Government through Womankind-UK to implement a 4-year [2012 – 2016] project on Women’s participation in politics and public decision-making processes. 

The expected results of the project according to her, included improved accountability of decision-making structures to their (women) constituents; increased numbers of women actively and effectively participating in decision making structures at national and local levels; and increased capacity of women to advocate for their needs at local and national levels.

The expected output of the project was also to see; increased capacity of women to advocate for their needs and proposals at the local level; women leaders demonstrate improved responsiveness and push for increased accountability to the female constituents and increased opportunities for women’s participation in protecting and promoting women’s rights and development.

Meanwhile, the project is being implemented in three districts - Atwima Mponua, Wenchi and Dangme East Municipalities. It has activities such as leadership training and mentoring programme for 45 [15 women per district], leadership training and mentoring programme for 60 young women in 2 universities and Senior High Schools and training for media practitioners.

Some of the topics being treated at the Accra training programme include; understanding gender, impact of socialization and gender roles, stereotypes, patriarchy, power and women, understanding women’s human rights, discrimination versus gender equality, international treaties, Ghana’s Constitution and international treaties.

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