Citizen Journalism training forms part of 16 days of gender activism in Sierra Leone

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The Men’s Association for Gender Equality, Sierra Leone (MAGE SL) has held a two-day training workshop, on Citizen Journalism, at the Grassroots Gender Empowerment Movement’s conference hall, 57 John Street Freetown.

The workshop forms part of activities marking the commemoration of the 16 Days of gender activism as Serra Leone joins the rest of the world.

The theme for 2018 campaign is “End Gender Base Violence in the world of work.”

Participants include the Community Action Team (CAT) members and journalists who acquired new skills on how a citizen journalist could craft compelling stories, writing skills, turning community issues into a story, interview techniques – for example how to interview a GBV survivor and other traumas, mobile journalism -the aspect, which includes taking photos, shooting and editing videos on phones, social media tips and journalism ethics.

Facilitators from the Sonke Gender Justice South African team, Karen Robertson and Gadeeja Abass emphasised the importance of networking gender justice issues into a comprehensive reporting platform. The ability to do so, however, Karen said, is engendered in the skills the Community Action Team workers have acquired to utilise citizen journalism in a responsible way.

“We are training you to become trusted sources of information: for the media, for MAGE and for your community,” Karen stated. Adding that the workshop aims to educate and empower citizens and members of the media (who are of course also citizens) to use their voice to help create change in their communities.

Gadeeja Abass took the participants through the practical stages of the workshop and recorded testimonies from participants during the burning issues session. She informed journalists and CAT members that providing the platform for the voiceless to say out their views would go a long way to break the culture of silence. Gadeeja said voices of the masses are so important and could force a government to take affirmative action on the burning issues often reported from activists’ point of view.

She said the 16 days of gender activism is commemorated to invent the will and to make the world a better place for women and men.

The workshop set the pace for journalists and gender activists to start working together to raise awareness, investigate gender-based violence, report the unreported cases of gender violence and push for the government to enact laws that would support gender justice in order to change the current ugly face of gender violence in the world.

Director of MAGE-SL, David Tamba Mackieu said the day itself is not a celebration, rather it is commemorated around the world to bring to light some of the low moral vices that men engaged in doing against women in society. He further stated that the messages cut across in the 16 days of gender activism and some campaigners use banners, some street processions, some use drama skits, public speaker fora, symposia, workshops, radio and television talk-shows just so that people would understand that the female gender in the last decade has suffered tremendously from their male counterparts and this must stop.

He said MAGE SL has a list of activities in trying to further sensitise the public about the inalienable rights of persons and how those rights are not to be abused by anybody no matter the position, influence or affluence.

Mr. Makieu said another training session is going to be organised for the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces to abreast the military with human right issues in keeping with the United Nations universal declarations on rights of persons.

The 16 days of gender activism is a time to galvanise action to end violence against women and girls around the world. The international campaign originated from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute coordinated by the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991.

It is observed every year since that time from November 25-to December 10 also widely known as International Human Rights Day.

The training is component of a project titled Rights Action and Accountability for Gender Justice in Africa. Funded by the Norwegian Agency for Rural Development (NORAD) and Sonke Gender Justice based in South Africa.

Reporting by Abu Bakarr Sulaiman Tarawally

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