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Media trained on gender reporting to boost election of women in Somalia

Media trained on gender reporting to boost election of women in Somalia

Twenty-five Somali journalists have benefitted from a one-day virtual training to enhance their effectiveness in reporting on female candidates in the ongoing parliamentary and presidential elections to help advance election of more women. 

The training was organized by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), in collaboration with Somalia’s Federal Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development. Apart from the media, the training also drew participants from Civil Society Organizations including women rights groups.

 In his opening remarks, the Head of the Protection, Human Rights and Gender (PHRG) unit of AMISOM, Kareem Adebayo, noted that the training was timely, given the ongoing elections in Somalia. 

“This workshop couldn’t have come at a more opportune time given the ongoing elections in Somalia and the aspiration to ensure the realization of the 30 percent quota for women in the country’s parliament,” Adebayo stated, noting that “the media have a critical role to play” before, during and after the elections, to ensure the realization of the quota.  

During the training, the participants were taken through topics ranging from the role of media in promoting inclusivity, strategies for increased visibility of women candidates, gender awareness in media reporting and visibility of women issues during elections, among others. 

Jubaland State kicked off the elections by electing the first 4 members of the Upper House on Thursday, effectively becoming the first Federal Member State to hold elections. The rest of the States are expected to follow suit. According to the Somali interim charter, women are to get 30 percent of the total number of elective posts in parliament.

Head of PHRG Adebayo, who was speaking on behalf of the Deputy Special Representative of Chairperson of the African Union Commission (DSRCC) for Somalia, Simon Mulongo, explained the training has the potential of shifting attitude towards gender content in newsrooms and editorial leadership, thereby decreasing gender disparities. 

“It is important,” he noted “that the industry understands and is aware of how it is portraying female politicians in the media during the electoral process and campaigns,” adding that “men usually dominate the news, so there is a need to make female candidates visible, and also to avoid gender stereotypes.” 

The Director of Gender at Somalia’s Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development, Sadia Mohamed Nuur, noted that training is crucial and will immensely benefit Somali journalists.

“Somali media faces a critical challenge especially representing gender well in election reporting, and I believe this training programme is important since it covers a lot that will help improve the situation,” said Sadia Mohamed Nuur. 

She commended AMISOM for the partnership and called for even deeper collaboration between the two on other aspects of gender and human rights. 

Leila Aded Osman, the Chairperson of the Somali Women Journalists Rights Association (SOWJRA), which also played a role in organizing the training, called on the participants to be proponents of balanced gender reporting. She urged them to apply the knowledge and skills gained, to perform their duties, even after the elections.

 AMISOM Gender Officer Mane Ahmed, noted that the training will help in eliminating the perpetuation of gender stereotypes in elections and, ultimately shape the Somali political landscape by influencing social change and perceptions about women participation.

Facilitators of the training included Shipra Bose, Senior Gender Officer at the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), Ismail Yasin Mohamed, Electoral Expert at the National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC), and Mohamed Hussein Osoble, a media expert. 

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