Nigeria's women journalists join together for change

Members of NAWOJ with DGD representative
NAWOJ Vice President Veronica Ogbole and National President Asabe Baba Nahaya meet with DGD Media Expert Toyin Gabriel (right) to discuss the national strategic plan. Photo: UNDP Nigeria

In a country where female participation in professional life has traditionally been limited, the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), established 25 years ago, stands as a key pillar in the efforts to increase women access and leadership in the media. With its focus on encouraging women to become journalists and to support the development of existing journalists to become respected members of their newsrooms, NAWOJ plays a critical role in ensuring that Nigeria’s media has a strong and active female contingent.

Asabe Baba Nahaya, National President of NAWOJ, explains that the situation for women journalists has changed a lot since the organization’s inception.

‘Before NAWOJ started, women were not covering important issues, but now they have been given more responsibilities and we have more female editors than ever before,’ she states.

In light of their continued work and ability to promote real change, the Democratic Governance for Development (DGD II) project began a strong working relationship with NAWOJ in 2012. Gender issues lie at the heart of efforts to improve democracy, and DGD support for NAWOJ has focused on building their capacity to not only encourage women to become journalists, but also to consolidate their efforts in bringing gender issues into the national limelight.

Highlights

  • The Nigerian Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) was established 25 years ago to increase women's access and leadership in the media
  • The Democratic Governance for Development project has worked with NAWOJ since 2012 to build their capacity in encouraging new women journalists and strategic planning
  • With support from the Democratic Governance for Development project, NAWOJ will release its first strategic plan in 2013

Working closely in collaboration with DGD, NAWOJ has embarked on Nigeria’s first database of female journalists, which its Vice President Veronica Ogbole explains will allow for targeted training activities and as a resource for advocacy.

‘When we used to talk about numbers of women journalists, we didn’t know how many. To even plan for activities and advocacy we just had to assume. Now with our work with DGD we are establishing a database that we hope will bring out a membership directory and information on women holding all levels of positions in the media,’ she states.

Another key aspect of DGD support has been the development of a national strategic plan. The plan includes the development of the new membership directory, as well as membership building activities. Further, it establishes a blue print for targeted training for women journalists on how to cover issues that have not traditionally been assigned to women, such as defence and finance. Past trainings have seen many female journalists go on to cover new issues and report on important factors affecting women in Nigeria.

With this increased exposure, it is hoped that gender issues will become more identifiable in the national discourse and will result in real changes in the community. Further, as NAWOJ bring attention to women covering new issues, they are sure that other journalists will recognize the important role women have to play in the newsroom.

‘We have seen some real change, but there is more to go. Once we implement our strategic plan, women journalists will be encouraged to contribute across many issues. We see our role at NAWOJ as that of parents, guiding the new breed through. We want to help young women go about their work, and understand how to get access to important stories so that they can stand on their own’ Ms Nahaya explains.

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