The plights of the womenfolk in many parts of the world especially in third world nations have continued to elicit concern. In every fora, seminar and talks-hops, issues relating to violence, marginalization and sexual harassment against women have always been on the front burner to drum support for women through awareness and sensitization campaign.
It was on this note that the United Nations General Assembly by its Resolution 48/104 of December 20, 1993 proclaimed an International Day to mark the struggle for the elimination of all forms of violence against women in the world.
The 2019 campaign for the elimination of violence against the female gender was marked in Nigeria on November 25, through organized seminars and workshop by many groups and organizations.
In Rivers State, the National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) under the auspices of its National body and in collaboration with the Norwegian Union of Journalists organized a two-day workshop on “Gender Equity and Safety/Gender Sensitivity Reporting”, at the NUJ Press Centre in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The workshop featured two prominent and prolific women journalists, Hajuja Rafat Salani and Mrs. Veronica Ogbole from the national office of NAWOJ.
These women demonstrated capacity as they lectured and drilled the participants on various topics including combating sexual harassment in the work place, challenges in gender reporting in newsrooms and safety in the field gendering standard operating manuals.
The importance of the event was not lost on the stakeholders and participants who were all dressed in the beautifully designed NAWOJ T-Shirt outfits.
In attendance were the cream of stakeholders in the media and journalism profession including, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, Chairman, Rivers State House of Assembly Committee on Information and Training, Hon. Ememi Alabo George who was Special Guest of Honour, Mr. Chidi Okoroh as chairman of the occasion, former and current State Chairmen of NUJ, Mr. Opaka Dokubo and Stanley Job Stanley, and a Representative of the State Ministry of Women Affairs among others.
Setting the ball rolling, the chairperson of Rivers State Chapter of NAWOJ Chief, Mrs. Lillian Okonkwo said the workshop was organized to build the capacity of female journalists on issues affecting the female gender within and outside the work environment.
She said the training is to equip them to contend with challenges of the profession, stressing that they need such to be able to speak out on issues affecting them.
Chairman of the event, Chidi Okoroh commended the NAWOJ for the sensitization to expose their capacity to challenge the facts that militate against their progression and growth in the society.
Okoro regretted that gender biase has resulted in the relegation of women in the society, emphasizing that women are as equally capable as the menfolk.
However, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim took the confrontational approach in his speech when he expressed disappointment that despite the various efforts of NAWOJ in advocating for the rights of the female gender, not much can be said to have been achieved by the Rivers chapter in its almost 30 years of existence.
The permanent secretary also regretted that NAWOJ has demonstrated clear weakness in projecting and sustaining burning social issues especially those affecting the state, stressing that NAWOJ should begin to celebrate men of honour who have initiated policies to promote the female gender in the state.
He said NAWOJ should publicly celebrate Governor Nyesom Wike who made it compulsory to have only women as deputy chairman of all the 23 local councils in the state.
Pastor Nsirim ended his address with a charge on the state NAWOJ to think sincerely and act.
Sharing his experiences with the womenfolk, Hon. Enemi Alabo George, said women including his mother had played prominent role in moulding his profile, adding that it is the women that take the greatest responsibility in the raising of children.
Hon. George charged the women to break barrirs rather than complaining of being held back by the men.
He called on NAWOJ to continue to expand the horizon though the strengthening of the capacities, adding that if they decide to take the lead, the men will willingly follow.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Women Affairs, represented by Dr (Mrs.) Carmelita Agborubere, charged the women to eschew what she termed the sticking thinking attitude of always operating from the position of weakness, saying women should reinvent their identity and self esteem.
Former state chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr. Opaka Dokubo who enjoined women to use their population advantages to key into position of leadership rather than play second fiddle in the society.
Chairman of the state NUJ, Mr. Stanley Job Stanley, commended NAWOJ for the initiative describing the workshop as appropriate as it came at a time, issues of violence against women in the country is on the increase.
The success and impact of the workshop on the members of the association is obvious as it no doubt was timely and incisive. The issues raised during the workshop are no doubt sensitive as they touch on the peculiar circumstances which many of the women experience daily as media workers and home makers.
It is also important to commend the national office of NAWOJ for putting such programme together especially with the calibre of resource persons that handled discussions and practical demonstrations at the workshop. Kudos to Rivers NAWOJ and its leadership for the turn out and organization of the event. Yes, raise the capacity of the women and the nation will be better for it. More fluid to the pen that is mightier than the sword, as they always say.