During the era the bible was written in, women were talked about less than the men. Only few female heroines were mentioned in the story of the bible. This pattern of writing the achievements of men in the books of history more than those of the women has survived beyond over two thousand years since then till date.
Take the Nigeria history books for example, there are more stories of the male folks like Murtala Mohammed, Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe… Only a handful of female heroines are ever mentioned and their stories told less often. The result of this being fewer role models for the girls and women, who see the men as the ones capable of achieving feats, and themselves as observers.
It was to address this that the Journalists for Christ fellowship met on Saturday 20th of February 2016 where they discussed the under-reporting of women in the media and the way forward.
Speaking at the event, Ms Evelyn Osagie, a reporter with the Nation Newspaper and an award winning culture journalist, had more of an interactive session with the guests and panelists exchanging opinions.
Ms Osagie revealed that as a child, her father forced her to read newspapers. While reading, she often wondered why only certain people were being recycled all the time by the media as news makers of which only a few were women. It was this that drove her to tell the untold stories and search for uncommon heroes.
“Journalists are not just pace setters, but advocates,” she said. It is up to journalists, especially the female journalists to set new agendas that will bring about revolution. It is also up to them to make the story of the under-served woman on the street to be heard and when doing this their stories should be told not from the stand point of a victim or one who is good only for fashion, entertainment and to be the face of brands, but from the position of their strength and the things they’ve been able to overcome.
“Be a journalist who can take sand and turn it to gold dust.” She exhorted the female journalists whom she said the onus was upon to tell the story of other women and represent them as figures of change and strength.
Evelyn shared her experience in the media and told of how she has been able to make a non-story into front page stories and encouraged everyone present to be creative when reporting because even the most regular stories about women can become a sensation if told from the right angle.
One of the guests mentioned that females were under-reported not due to bias but because only few of them achieve things worth reporting. To this Ms Osagie answered that everyone has a story worth reporting if you take the time to dig deep.
The responsibility lies with journalists to go beyond the obvious story makers when looking for stories, to bring out the stories of those not told. She used the case of Olajumoke as an example, “There are a million bread sellers on the streets, yet because one person chose to tell her story she became a sensation.”
Another guest unconvinced that women are under-represented opined that there are lots of centres and programmes for women but none for the men.
The chief speaker agreed that it is true there are men who are being marginalized, however statistics shows that more women are disadvantaged in our male dominated society hence the centres for women.
Present at the ceremony was Adeyanju who is hearing impaired. He asked that while we meet to discuss women being unde-rreported it should be known that the disabled are the least represented. He advocated for the inclusion of disabled people in society. He said that the women and children with disabilities live with hardships we cannot begin to comprehend and called on the people present to help to make them heard and become a part of society.