8 November 2012

Africa: More Pleas for Marginalized Groups

Photo: Tami Hultman/AllAfrica
Amadou Mahtar Ba, chief executive officer of the African Media Initiative and chair of AllAfrica Global Media.

Dakar — The founder of Femmes Africa Solidarité (FAS), Bineta Diop, has urged the media to show a positive image of marginalized groups, particularly women and young men.

She was speaking at a panel on the theme "Media and citizenship", within the framework of the 5th edition of the African Media Leaders Forum (AMLF) in progress in the Senegalese capital, Dakar 7-9 November.

Bineta Diop lamented the rejection of several social groups, bad governance and the deficit of leadership in Africa in general and in Senegal in particular.

These problems (rejection of many social groups, bad governance and deficit of leadership) lead to the fact that a large part of the population doesn't execute their citizenship rights. In Senegal, women represent more than 50% of the population and if young men are added to them, we find ourselves with a huge part of the population (70 to 80%) that is marginalized.

The NGO founder has denounced the fact that women are not given too much importance. Despite the promotion of parity, in line with a bill passed by the Senegalese Parliament, women's participation in political and economic life must be speeded up, she says.

"Several groups of populations do not exert their citizenship rights. How can these discrepancies be corrected through the media?", Bineta Diop asked before highlighting the heavy responsibility of the press.

The emancipation of the marginalized groups passes through a change of behaviors and mentalities, says the FAS boss. Bineta Diop has seized the opportunity of the forum to urge the media to more positive reporting on marginalized groups. Women are used by opposing forces during wars with several cases of rapes, among other crimes. Even if the media must show the disasters on the ground, it is to be recognized the existence of women who are victims but alive at the same time. For better results, she suggests synergy between the media and the vulnerable groups. Mrs Diop also denounced the fact that the images portrayed by the media do not help women get out of the difficulties they are undergoing.

Unfortunately, she said, there must be conflicts so that women emerge in cases of conflicts. For a case in point, Bineta Diop mentioned the election of Ellen Jonhson Sirleaf as Liberia's president after a civil war that claimed damage within the population. She also proudly cited the example of Senegalese women who strongly said no to violence through the media during the presidential election campaign in February-March this year in the country. On that occasion, women, via the media, clearly showed that they wanted to exercise their rights through the ballot and not with the use of weapons.

"In the media, women are suffering. How many press organizations are chaired by women?" asked Bineta Diop, who in the same vein cited the example of Marie Roger Biloa (Director of the monthly magazine Africa International).

Mrs.Diop wondered when the continent is going to have her own Al Jazeera channel. By way of an answer, she stresses that Africans have to be ambitious, given the huge resources available on the Black Continent.

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