Twelve female reporters from different news media organisations, have completed a first three-day training to build their capacity as champions of the newsroom and news towards becoming fellows of the 2023 Champion Building edition of the Female Reporters Leadership Programme (FRLP) of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ).
The training which took place from Monday 3 to Wednesday 5 April 2023, was focused on leadership skills, investigative reporting, and mainstreaming girls and women as leaders and expert sources in the news.
The resource persons pnclude; Stella Din-Jacob, Director of News, TVC; Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, Executive Director, Women Advocacy Research and Development Centre (WARDC); Rommy Mom, President, Lawyers Alert; and Motunrayo Alaka, Executive Director/CEO, WSCIJ.
Fellows from previous years of the programme also attended to share their experiences on how the fellowship helped them become better leaders and take career opportunities.
Din-Jacob facilitated sessions on investigative reporting through women lens, capacity development for competence and confidence, journalist safety on and off the field, navigating conflicts and stereotypes within the news and newsroom and fundamentals of communication. She charged the reporters to confront stereotypes noting that it was a mindset fed by experiences.
Akiyode-Afolabi enlightened the participants on starting and sustaining movements that make impact, the role of female reporters as leaders in the newsroom, and its effect on society, and fundamentals of gender studies in respect to global conversations on women’s rights. She urged the participants to collaborate with other media organisations to publish their investigative stories for wider impact.
An in-depth review of relevant laws and policies on girls’ and women’s rights was the focus of Mom’s sessions. He stated that the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights is one of the most progressive instruments. It guarantees women and girls the right to equal opportunities in the political space and to influence decision making.
Using the Report Until Something Happens (RUSH) strategy she created, Alaka exposed the participants to the importance of follow-up and accountability reporting methodologies to attain impact and to increase the chances of justice for affected persons.
She also shared the findings of WSCIJ’s 2017, 2019 and 2020, researches on the leadership status of women, policies and practices on gender mainstreaming, and gender parity of newsroom leadership in newsrooms in Nigeria, through media monitoring of over 111 media organisations in Nigeria.
The 12 participants who were selected from 173 valid application entries from across Nigeria, Zambia, Ghana, and Kenya, worked on their investigative stories and leadership project ideas with inputs from the resource persons who will mentor them for the next three to six months. The participants expressed commitment to the vision of the fellowship and to the important work of journalists in nation-building.
Since 2021, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has supported the Report Women! News and Newsroom Engagement project under which the champion building edition of the Female Reporter Leadership Programme fellowship is held this year.