July 14, 2024

African Women in Media (AWiM) Conference in Kigali Pioneers Media’s Crucial Role in Combating Gender Violence

2 min read

The seventh annual African Women in Media (AWiM) conference kicked off in Kigali, Rwanda, underscoring a dedicated focus on combatting gender violence within the media sector. Themed “Media and Gender Violence,” the conference aimed to bolster the media industry’s commitment to addressing and reporting on gender-based violence while fostering inclusivity for women journalists.

Dr. Yemisi Akinbobola, AWiM’s Co-founder and CEO, set the tone for the conference by stressing the urgency of industry-wide collaboration to establish higher standards in reporting on gender-based violence. She envisioned a world where discussions on gender violence and the development of related policies would become obsolete. Akinbobola emphasized the significance of open dialogue, shared experiences, and drawing lessons from existing efforts to shape future demands.

Government spokesperson Yolande Makolo acknowledged the alarming trend of women in journalism being targeted for violence and harassment. She underscored the pivotal role women play in combatting gender-based violence through their storytelling. Makolo outlined Rwanda’s proactive measures, including educational initiatives on women’s rights, awareness campaigns on gender-based violence, and legal consequences for perpetrators.

Swedish Ambassador to Rwanda Johanna Teague expressed optimism regarding the potential for significant transformations in newsrooms through policies aimed at combating gender-based violence. Arthur Asiimwe from the Rwanda Broadcasting Agency underscored the need for heightened awareness and attention within the media sector, calling for active support from men to create safe working environments for women.

Dr. Amina Salihu, Deputy Director of the MacArthur Foundation, highlighted the role of media character, competence, and capacity in the fight against gender-based violence. She called for media accountability and mutual responsibility before demanding it from others, commending AWiM for the Kigali Declaration against gender-based violence.

Agneta Soderberg Jacobson shared her experiences in the newsroom, advocating for a shift in attitudes to eliminate gender-based violence in the media. She emphasized the recent commitment of 34 Rwandan media houses to anti-sexual harassment policies, underlining the media’s potential to effect change both internally and through reporting.

Dr. Akinbobola expressed gratitude to local partners Fojo Media Institute and Mount Kigali University, acknowledging their support in organizing the conference. She highlighted collaborative projects, including research on the experiences of women journalists in sub-Saharan Africa and specifically in Rwanda, shaping AWiM’s work over the past three years.

By Kabagire Stella Berlyse

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