Africa: Information Minister Laments Media Plight

Liberia’s Minister of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism Lenn Eugene Nagbe, who is on record for tongue-lashing the Press Union of Liberia, the umbrella body for journalists here, says the media in Liberia and other parts of Africa is treated as a step-child. Nagbe notes that the media is underpaid, as compared to other countries, including lack of insurance, poor working condition, low salaries for staff as well as lack of equipment, among other limitations.

Speaking via zoom at a workshop organized by the Female Journalists Association of Liberia in collaboration with the European Union, UN Women, the United Nations and the Government of Liberia, the MICAT boss underscores that the Liberian society needs a strong media to have a strong democracy, saying that government should empower the media to effectively carry on its functions.He also observes that sexual based violence in Liberia has been a problem prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, noting that it is not an easy thing to tackle.

Tuesday's workshop was geared at training reporters to adequately report on gender and sexual based violence that has experienced a spike across the country amid the pandemic. Nagbe stresses that the media is key in uniting the society and bringing an end to violence against women and girls.

The Head of Delegate of the European Union to Liberia, Theodorus Kasper, observes that violence against women and girls has been on the increase here, but the coronavirus outbreak has exposed women to more domestic violence, saying that women are staying home and they are exposed more to violence by their male partners.

Mr. Kasper assures that the European Union will continue to work with FEJAL and other partners in tackling violence against women and girls, but stresses the need for more reporting of cases, noting there are more cases than are being reported.

In response, the President of the Press Union of Liberia Charles Coffey, hails the Female Journalist Association of Liberia for initiating a training for journalists on SGBV, which will contribute positively in the fight against gender violence.

UN Women Programme Analyst, Dhogba G. Mabande says her organization remains focus on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking, sexual and other types of exploitation as well as harmful practices such as early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation, amongst others.

Veteran Liberian female journalist and facilitator, Maureen Sieh, notes that women constitute 22 percent of newsroom staff in Liberia, pointing out that low representation of women in the news room influences the way the media reports on women issues.She explains that when reporters fail to speak to women experts and leaders, they risk leaving out perspectives relevant to a huge portion of society and miss out on new and interesting stories that otherwise may not surface.

Maureen also urges reporters to provide sex disaggregated data whenever they report statistics of COVID-19, and not to rush in writing stories about rape until the facts are gathered, while avoiding stigmatization of rape survivors.

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