Wife of the Vice-President, Samira Bawumia, has urged the media to create safe space for women to freely express themselves on issues of national development.
She mentioned insults, sexism and stereotypical news angles, among others, as some of the factors that inhibited women from participating in the media.
“Women empowerment in the media should start with not only giving women a voice, but also ensuring that they are protected from unnecessary attacks and unfair scrutiny that make participation in the media space unattractive.
“Women empowerment in the media should not be about tokenism to balance the gender equation or about hearing women’s voices, but there must be a deliberate and sustained effort by the media to make issues affecting women a critical part of their programming while highlighting their achievements whenever possible,” Mrs Bawumia added.
She was speaking at the 6th West Africa Media Excellence Conference and Awards (WAMECA) in Accra yesterday on the theme: “Media and Women empowerment in Africa”.
Organised by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), the three-day event provides a platform for participants to discuss critical issues in the media sector in the West Africa sub-region and beyond.
The event will be climaxed on October 22, 2022, with the presentation of awards to promote journalism excellence in the sub-region.
This year’s WAMECA coincides with the 25th anniversary of the founding of MFWA.
A panel discussion on thematic areas such as ensuring equal voices, representation and participation in governance, news framing and choices and other areas were among issues discussed at the conference yesterday.
Mrs Bawumia further said that the world over, women issues were underrepresented in the media even though they represented more than half of the population.
She, therefore, urged the media to prioritise the unheard, the marginalised and the under-represented.
Mrs Bawumia also advised women to take up positions of influence in their countries, including serving in public office in order to help shape policy and influence decisions that affected women.
“We are stronger when we achieve critical mass in media, politics, industry and every worthy sphere of human endeavour.
“Let us also be deliberate about looking out for talented young women who have the potential to rise to the top; let us serve as their mentors and provide them with encouragement to achieve their dreams,” she added.
The Executive Director of MFWA, Sulemana Braimah, also stressed the need to amplify the voices of women as part of efforts to change the status quo.
He also called for the creation of fair and equitable opportunities for women to compete and succeed on the basis of the superiority of their views and ideas.
“May I remind us that it is never late to take a paradigm shift from the primitive cultures of attitude towards women in all spheres of life.
“Women undoubtedly can be game-changers and for this reason we must all rally our support behind them for equal and collective growth in our societies,” Mr Braimah said.
The Chairperson of the Global Forum for Media Development, Zoe Titus, urged female public policymakers, including parliamentarians and those who have attained the highest levels in their respective professions, to make themselves accessible to the media.
For his part, the Founder of MFWA, Professor Kwame Karikari, asked women to make democracy a major theme in their empowerment, saying women empowerment would be impossible if societies were not democratic.