Dispatch from West Africa

Woman voting in a Burkina Faso town

Woman voting in a Burkina Faso town

The president of the Supreme Council on Communication in Burkina Faso promised journalists that the council will do all it can to prevent violence against journalists in the country.

Beatrice Damiba condemned the beating of a television cameraman by angry civilians.

“We call on the people to understand what it means to be good citizens and allow the media to work in peace and security to ensure that transparent information can get out based on the facts.”

Daniba made the comments at the opening of a conference hosted by the Global Center for Journalism and Democracy and the National Democratic Institute that focused on the need for gender equity in journalism.

The training, “Social Responsibility and Gender Coverage in the Media” is being held at the Azalai hotel in Ouagadougou.

50 West African journalists from various news organizations and dignitaries from the European Union, the Swedish embassy, the UNFPA, and the World Health Organization are in attendance.

Marie Noelle Grell from the EU said “This training is really important, because I believe there is an opening for women to play a greater role in Burkina Faso. We need concrete and interactive training. Women make up half the society.  Journalists play a very important role and should consider women as they report”.

Egyptian journalist and women’s right advocate Shahira Amin led the first training session “The Social Responsibility of a Journalist”.

Amin recounted her experience covering Egypt’s revolution, telling fellow journalists they could help break taboos by reporting on injustice.

For example, Amin reported on controversial issues including female circumcision and forced virginity tests. She is credited with prompting change in Egypt on both issues.

“It is not always easy. I was threatened, and told to stop. But I told authorities that I was just presenting facts. If these things weren’t happening, I wouldn’t have a story”.

Gender expert, and political activist Sonja Lokar from Slovenia conducted the second workshop “Gender and the Media”.

Lokar helped journalists conduct a gender analysis of local media by reviewing articles, pictures, and ads to determine how women are represented.
“Gender equity is a problem around the world, not just in Africa”, said Lokar.

The training will take place over the next three days. The conference is the first that GCJD has co-hosted with NDI. NDI has had a presence in Burkina Faso since 2004.

Global Center for Journalism and Democracy
Dan Rather Communications Building, Room 201, Huntsville, TX 77340