LIBERIA: ActionAid Boss Challenges Female Journalists

Monday, June 20, 2011
The Inquirer Online
Western Africa
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 

Following a protracted period of its dormancy, the Female Journalists Association of Liberia has inducted its leadership with a call not to restrict themselves to reporting just issues of gender based violence if there should be a collective effort to change Liberia. Those inducted were Torwon S. Brown, Coordinator; Siatta S. Johnson, Vice Coordinator and Estelle Liberty, Secretary General. The Association still has two vacant positions to fill its leadership for active service to the members. The Guest Speaker, Korto Williams urged members of the Association to see beyond just reporting women's issues noting, “Move in and fill the gap of engaging in analyzing the roles of international financial institutions in the country. Take up issues of accountability, issues around governance, politics and the elections that are hardly heard of in the media.”

The Actionaid Boss said, “If there was a gap in the things the female journalists reported in the past, it is now time that you as female journalists become more comprehensive and more holistic by exposing issues that would help bring change to the society.”

She said though girls are being raped and Liberia has problems around sexual and gender based issues but that is not a space associated to women adding that there are practices that tend to hold females down but the Liberian context is coming to everybody about the shape in women's role from being passive; from being a part of the domestic or private stage to becoming more positive. “Who is going to amplify our roles in terms of changing Liberia and who is going to give women that recognition they deserve? Madam Williams asked.

Madam Williams challenged FeJAL that in terms of changing women's roles in the society, female journalists are to gain confidence around their strength and recognize their weaknesses adding, “You have major issues all around us and you can't keep silent. You have a lot of power in terms of engaging people in bringing transformation in the society. Your decision to organize FeJAL is not to have a female portion in the Press Union. That is not enough or not to say we formed this group to talk about women's issues, so because you are women you have to talk about women's issues; that is not enough. You have to recognize that within this group there are people with different skills and different kinds of power; power around resources and knowledge whether academic or otherwise. There are people who have experience so you have to harness all of that to be a part of that change that is going to happen in Liberia,” the guest speaker admonished the Association.

Madam Williams said there is a high level of accountability in the journalism profession and wondered, “Who is going to give recognition to the role of females in the country? Another problem is that you are finding it hard to build on experience as opposed to learning from the past to make things better but with the high level of experiences many things are happening around development in the country.”

The new coordinator of FeJAL, Madam Brown describing the shape in the Association as historic stressed the need for female journalists to take education seriously. She said without education, women would always lag behind.

She said the story of female harassment is still being heard at workplaces and restrictions are still high but issues of that nature and many others can only be tackled if women go to school considering being on par with their male counterparts. “We will work to ensure unity and find other female journalists wherever they are. We must strive for excellence if we must prove our critics wrong. We must have the desire to pick up the challenge of competition. Such attitude will show that we are ready for progress,” she expressed.

She applauded the female journalists who snatched several awards of the Press Union of Liberia's award this year adding, “This shows that our women are no longer in the back but are at the front directing the sail. We say bravo! to women of the Liberian media. For our male colleagues we say the journey has just begun. Thanks for accommodating us in the past for we are now prepared to walk side by side therefore give us the chance.”

“Our aspirations are more but with the confidence imposed in us will require true collaboration not just among us as colleagues but with our international partners,” FeJAL Coordinator noted.

Meanwhile, members of the Association have been urged to apply for the two vacant positions which are the positions of Assistant Secretary and Financial Secretary. The bi-election will take place shortly to propel the Association for efficient service. The election commission headed by PUL President Peter Quaqua remains active until the vacant positions are occupied.

The Association is to shortly begin the training of several female journalists or those aspiring to become journalists from rural radio stations in Monrovia.