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Women in the media say they are capable of achieving as much as the men if given equal opportunities

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Lilian Ezejelue

Nigerian women revealed on Friday that they can achieve more in every industry, including in the media if treated equally and given same opportunities as their male counterparts.

This revelation came during a tweet chat organized by the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WCSIJ) in commemoration of the International Women’s Day 2016.

The aim of the tweet chat was to support the #PledgeForParity which is the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day and also to debate on the situation of female journalists in the Newsroom. This was part of the Centre’s #ReportWomen project, an initiative that raises awareness about girls’ and women’s issues.

The conversation was led by two leading female Journalists, Funke Treasure-Durodola, the General Manager of Radio One and Amma Ogan, the former Director of Editorials, Next Newspaper. They urged media owners and managers to ensure gender parity in their newsrooms so as to redress the imbalance in the ratio of women to men in media organisations within Nigeria.

During the chat, Amma Ogan revealed that she would have achieved more as a journalist had there been equality in the newsrooms because there would have been less obstacles to cut through.

She advised that gender parity should be incorporated by media organizations from the newsroom to the boardroom.

“You need an assigning editor who is aware of and understands why gender parity matters. Gender Parity awareness promotes itself. Assigning editors must make the right choices.” Mrs Ogan Tweeted.

Mrs Durodola disclosed that as the General Manager of Radio One she trusts her female staff with tasking responsibilities and that they have proven over again to be as capable as the male staff. She exhorted other media houses to change the mind-set of assigning female journalists to soft beats relating to lifestyle and the likes, while the men were given beats on politics and other more important matters.

She lamented about the lack of women in political desks in newsrooms and went on to urge women who are given the opportunity to lead to consciously work on being different, mentor others and break new grounds.

“It is tough for women professionals generally. Organizational and institutional support should be given to the women.” Mrs Durodola said.

The achievements of women in the media were acknowledged and discussants noted that women have demonstrated that they can be trusted with more responsibilities in the newsroom based on the performance of those who have been in leadership positions over time.

Participants raised questions about how women in the media struggle to be recognised in the newsroom and how they could create a balance between career and family life so as to ensure that their careers do not suffer. They stated that they have more domestic responsibilities than the men which ultimately limits their growth and participation in the newsroom. They also lamented the poor treatment of female journalists by bosses claiming that some women have been pushed to resign from their jobs due to the attitude of their superiors.

The media was also urged to celebrate the voice of women and their achievement in the newsroom and male journalists were charged to encourage their female counterparts.

The Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism used the opportunity of the chat to celebrate top female journalists, both past and present, as role models for upcoming journalists and to promote gender equality.

“Gender equality is a right but it is sadly a major struggle even in the media.” The Wole Soyinka Centre tweeted.

The chat started at about 11:00am with a brief introduction of the WSCIJ project, Report Women, which focuses on girls and women issues in Nigeria. The WSCIJ under the initiative has trained eighty journalists and commissioned thirty-one stories. It has also published a documentary titled, Report Women: The untold stories of girls and women, which is available on YouTube.

At the end of the tweet chat, the Hashtag used for the chat #ReportWomen trended as number one in Lagos, according to Trendsmap Lagos.

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