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Samira fights for empowerment of women

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Dignitaries at the gathering

The Second Lady, Samira Bawumia, yesterday urged the Ghanaian media to encourage and foster safe space for women to freely express themselves.

“This is a reality we cannot run away from, but the solution is not to ignore those who shy away when given the platform. We need to keep trying; provide encouragement and foster a safe space for women to freely express themselves,” she charged.

The Second Lady was speaking at the opening ceremony of the West Africa Media Excellence Conference and Awards (WAMECA) 2022, under the theme, “Media and Women Empowerment” in Accra.

According to her,  there were increasing and conscious attempts by the media to ensure women’s inclusion and balance in programming, and the media were now increasingly conscious of women’s issues, and some were taking practical steps to be gender sensitive and tackle stereotypes.

She noted that there were several factors, including socio-cultural, that inhibit women’s participation in the media, and that there was the need for collective solution to the problem.

“On this issue, some female newsmakers have indicated that the times when morning shows and late evening discussions are held are probably the times they are most likely to prepare their children for school or for bed. Even in this era of virtual appearances on media programmes, not every woman has the luxury of speaking from their home,” Samira Bawumia bemoaned.

Another reason, she said, “is how female newsmakers are framed and reported about. Not many women can endure the insults, sexism, and some stereotypical news angles customised for only female newsmakers. Being a woman in the media limelight I know exactly what they go through and I empathise with all the challenges women have to endure and the difficult decisions required of them.”

The Executive Director of Media Foundation for West Africa, Sulemana Braimah, in his welcome address, noted the importance of involving women in all roles in life and not discriminating against them.

“The building of better societies begins with the empowerment of women. Therefore, the ongoing talks of rebuilding and confronting the challenges of our time, will lead us nowhere if we continue to shut the door to women and fail to have their voices, ideas and power in the rebuilding efforts,” he said.

Mr. Braimah further added that changing the dynamic to empower women begins with amplifying the voices of women as there is the need to let the views and ideas of women be heard, acknowledged and known by all.

He also said there was the need to create fair and equitable opportunities for women to compete and succeed on the basis of the superiority of their views and ideas. One key enabler of women empowerment, he noted is the media as it remains the most powerful tool for information dissemination and a powerful agenda setter.

The media in Africa, according to the Executive Director, were among the culprits of women disempowerment. “Women’s voices make up less than one quarter of those whose views and voices are heard in the news media. Women make up just about 22% of news sources in Africa. Coverage of women in top positions remains characterised by stereotypes and controversies.” he said sadly.

Background

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) is hosting the 6th edition of its flagship programme, the West Africa Media Excellence Conference and Awards (WAMECA) from October 20 to 22, 2022 in Accra.s

The WAMECA is an initiative of the MFWA to promote media excellence in the sub-region annually. It brings together media practitioners, academics, civil society activists, representatives from government, ECOWAS and the diplomatic community to reflect on the challenges and changing trends in the area of free expression, media development and access to information across West Africa.

JENNIFER AMBOLLEY

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