By Mary Agidi
Guest Speakers at the 2018 African Women in the Media (AWIM) conference, including the wife of the Kaduna State governor, Hajia Hadiza El-Rufai have stressed the need for women to be visible and be determined to inspire in every profession and position they hold.
The two days AWIM conference, organised by a United Kingdom based Nigerian journalist, Dr. Yemisi Akinbobola was held at the International conference hall of the University of Ibadan with the theme “Visibility “.
Speaking at the conference, Hajia El-Rufal decried the low representation of women in government especially the legislative body.
According to her, there is a need for female authors to change the perception of women in fictions and portray female characters in a way that will inspire the young girls.
She charged women to aspire for leadership positions and voice out when necessary, adding that unless there are women aspiring to join the policy makers, women’s desires will continue to be submerged.
The convener, Dr Akinbobola noted that she came up with the idea of AWIM in order to create a supportive platform for African women media practitioners to mingle, share ideas, challenges, empower, encourage and support one another in the profession.
According to her, the idea of AWIM came up in year 2016 after she won a CNN award for the sport reporter of the year and decided to encourage African women in the profession not to be deterred by challenges but to aspire to be visible.
She added that AWIM is a network through which women issues will be well-represented in the media and help change the African perception about feminism, saying it is high time to stop the negative impression that women do not assist one another.
Akinbobola however hinted that the 2019 AWIM event is scheduled to hold in Kenya having held the first one in London, adding that the Kenya edition is a festival rather than a conference.
In an interview with The Hope, the keynote speaker at the event, Nima Elbagir, senior international correspondent for CNN in London, encouraged ambitious women in the media profession not to be limited by the effects of womanhood and the immediate environment.
The Sudanese-born Nima who said she was able to win international awards for investigative journalism despite being a wife and mother attributed her success to passion for the profession, and therefore enjoined other women in the profession to love what they do and make their ambition clear to their husband to earn his support.
Speaking on visibility of women in the media, an academic keynote speaker, Professor Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika, Head of Mass Communication department, University of Lagos, stressed the need for advocacy in order to achieve visibility.
She lamented the male dominance in the mainstream media as most countries do not provide a balanced representation of women.
Speaking on “defining African feminism “, a Professor of Applied Communication at the University of Ibadan, Ayobami Ojebode said women constitute 49.6% of world’s population but are under-reported in election coverage and are less read, seen or viewed.
He attributed the invisibility of women to fear of insecurity and called for equity in gender justice, and mandatory gender training in all journalism schools as ways out.
Also speaking, a Nigerian poet and author, Mrs Lola Shoneyin decried the the negative perception given to ambitious women in Africa.
She therefore charged women to rethink and change the way they relate to their children concerning feminism in order to erase the negative perception that women in leadership positions are promiscuous.
The conference featured flash talks, networking, and different workshops with topics like gender, security and election, women in media leadership, break the silence:health, violence and media;data journalism, reporting in conflict areas, fictional content and perceptions of women in leadership, among others and giving of $1000 grant to a winner of best investigative story idea.