Journalists in session, listening to Dr Monique Kwachou
Sisterspeak237 has, in a two-day training workshop, drilled over 30 media professionals reporting the crisis in Cameroon’s Northwest and Southwest regions on ways to factor in stories of persons with disabilities, as well as gender inclusion, in ways that help bring all on-board, tell their stories, and make them part of the peace process.
The two-day training session in Buea that spanned from August 11-12, brought together media practitioners from the Northwest and Southwest Regions, who shared experiences and were drilled on best practices. The training session was the beginning of a three-month project that will see journalists implement what they have learnt on disability and gender-inclusive reporting.
The training sessions focused on understanding the situation of persons with disabilities in Cameroon and Africa; situation of the disability reporting and framing in the media; language matters and terminology in reporting disability issues; as well as finding better angles to tell stories of disability in an impactful way.
The media practitioners were also drilled on gender-sensitive reporting, and were urged to always promote women, peace and security agenda. They were also enlightened on gender-sensitive reporting on conflicts. Here, they were told not to only talk to women as a way of fulfilling some ‘righteousness’, but actually because they see the need for that, and because they believe that women, like men, have a great role to play in shaping agendas and building an inclusive society.
Talking about the training, Comfort Mussa, Founder of Sisterspeake237, said it was organised “because most of the reports that we’ve had are not do not mainstream gender and disability and there are many untold stories and missing voices from our news reports on disabilities and other minority groups that are often ignored in mainstream narratives of the armed conflict”.
Comfort Mussa told participants that journalism done right can contribute to peace. She said, in armed conflicts or any crisis situation, people need relevant information just the same way they need water and humanitarian assistance. She said reporting right, through inclusion of every voice, every gender and every segment of the population is the first step towards a peaceful outcome of the conflict.
Noting that “there’s been a lot of exclusion of relevant voices”, Comfort Mussa said her organisation has taken the inclusion mission seriously for years now. She said, though they are not at the envisaged or ideal stage, a lot of ground has been covered, and newsrooms are coming on board. She said they are on a good track to realising set objectives.
The three-month project with financial support from the Swiss Embassy in Cameroon will have journalists produce over 20 commissioned inclusion stories.
Facilitators and trainers at the workshop included Wanchia Cynthia, Acha Rita, Nestor Njodzefor, Comfort Mussa and Dr Monique Kwachou – who drilled journalists on various thematic areas.