Senior Media Professionals Support Positive Gender Transformation in Somalia
UNDP Somalia’s Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Project in collaboration with UNFPA Somalia convened a Gender Training for Media Professionals last week in Kampala, Uganda. The training, which brought together 29 media professionals (including 11 women) selected from across Somalia, explored the role of media in protecting human rights, preventing GBV and HIV as well as promoting women’s full participation in politics and in key decision making in order to achieve inclusive and sustainable development. It also examined the unique relationship of information and empowerment.
At the training, Somalia’s Ambassador to Uganda, Siid Ahmed, called attention to the continued importance of gender mainstreaming and the role of the media. “If the media functioned in a way that takes our social problems into account; deploying soft persuasion, targeted impact, and increased opportunities for inclusive dialogue, it can hugely transform the gender relations of the society,” he said.
In his closing remarks, he noted that he was impressed by how the participants spoke about the training and what they have learnt. He urged them to sustain this enthusiasm and translate it into practical commitments. He thanked UNDP and UNFPA for organizing the training and emphasized that what the two UN agencies are advocating for will enable the media to fulfill their responsibilities as credible institutions and will ultimately help advance stability and development in Somalia.
The training equipped journalists and media houses with a better understanding of gender equality issues in media reporting and strengthened their ability to investigate and develop stories that are responsive to gender and women’s issues. Participants included media owners and editors, officials of state-owned media and senior journalists from private media houses. The director general of the Ministry of Information of Puntland, the director of Radio Mogadishu, and the manager of Radio Danan were among the training beneficiaries.
Somalia is undergoing a historic and critical moment in its approach to women’s issues and gender dynamics. The country is defining its political landscape and governance structures. At both the Federal as well as regional levels, key political and state formation processes are on-going: legislation is being formulated, new constitutions are being drafted, strategic commissions and bodies are being set up. However, outdated and patriarchal stereotypes continue to be reflected and recreated in political and social life and decision-making. Women are often underrepresented in politics. Second, men and women are stereotyped to sustain socially endorsed gender interactions. Third, depictions in the media of relationships between men and women emphasize traditional roles and normalize violence against women.
Against this context, Somali media can bring a positive multiplier-effect in transforming gender relations. An important part of daily life for people across Somalia, an informed and active media can help change attitudes about gender in the public sphere. The media is one of the most powerful tools for critical social interactions. The media is a key determinant in addressing societal perceptions of the roles and status of men and women, which perpetuate phenomenon such as GBV and driving Somali women’s political agenda forward. Therefore, engaging the media, conducting trainings on important gender topics, and enhancing journalistic capacity to foster gender transformative communication will have a huge impact on gender relations in Somalia.
The Chairperson Somali Women Journalists Association SOWJA, Leila Mohamud Abdulle shared her experience at the closing ceremony. In her speech she said that the training formed a turning point in her profession as a journalist and how gender sensitive reporting would steer peace and development in her country. ”Creating gender conscious media would help to break down the stereotypes and gender biases Somali media embroils in on daily basis,”’ said Leila. She noted that training had opened the door for journalists and enriched their knowledge on the subject matter, “Thanks to UNDP, UNFPA and the facilitators we have now a clear understanding of gender concepts, roles and relations; have gotten well acquainted with international, regional and national frameworks for gender; and grasped gender sensitive communications,” she accounted. Leila noted that this is not the first training of UNDP she attended, but stressed that this has provided an indispensable gender lens by drawing the fundamental link of gender roles and media reporting.
Mr. Saleebaan Nuur, Director General of the Ministry of Information of Puntland declared that the training was “an exceptional initiative; not only because of the content but also the type of people it attracted”. He warmly congratulated the participants for their active engagement throughout and urged them to put the knowledge gained to good use. He thanked UNDP for the initiative indicating that the fundamental aspect of this training was “a real practical training on the role of journalists in promoting peace and development through gender sensitive reporting”.
Abdiraxiin, the director of Radio Mogadishu, observed that the training was the first of its kind that he had attended and made an impact on him. He noted that a short film shown at the training on gender stereotypes, ‘The Impossible Dreams’ (struck him on a personal level. The film awakened his consciousness to the impact that assumptions or stereotypes may inflict upon people. He promised to apply the skills and knowledge gained from the training in his daily work. He also promised to share the knowledge with other colleagues. Since he works for public media, Abdiraxiin felt that it is his responsibility to advocate for equality and human rights of both men and women.
With support from Denmark and the UN Peace Building Fund, UNDP’s Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Project promotes the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment across all development results.
The training was broadcast by Radio Mogadishu. To listen to the recording, find the link: http://www.radiomuqdisho.net/danjiraha-soomaaliya-ee-uganda-oo-suxufiyiin-tababar-ugu-soo-xiray-kambala/
Prior to the event, the Director General of the Ministry of Information, Posts and Telecommunications met participants at the airport in Mogadishu as they were departing for Uganda and urged them to take advantage of the training opportunity. That event was broadcast on the Somali national TV news. See the link: https://youtu.be/Xu8m63rGJ9A\\