Bamako, Mali – L’Essor and Radio Klédu have been named “Centers of Excellence” in the International Women’s Media Foundation’s (IWMF) new initiative, Reporting on Agriculture and Women: Africa. The goal of the four-year initiative is to enhance news media coverage of agriculture, women in agriculture and rural development in Africa. The Centers of Excellence will participate in a program that provides continuous on-site training and specialized attention to the journalists at these media houses.
Launched in July 2007, the project is designed to increase and enhance reporting on agriculture and rural development, incorporate women’s roles in the coverage of agriculture and rural economics into reporting on those topics, and create more gender equality in newsrooms.
Agriculture is a critical source of livelihood and a pathway out of poverty in most African countries, making it a key subject for African media. ”African media have the potential to play a crucial role in helping the continent overcome its challenges. This proven training model will develop the foundation for best practices and innovative approaches to reporting these issues,” said Tom Mshindi, a Kampala-based IWMF board member and CEO of The Monitor newspaper. As managing director and CEO of The Standard in Nairobi, Mshindi worked with the IWMF on another training project using the same model.
A key component of the IWMF project is incorporating reporting on, by and about women in agriculture in Africa. “Women are the backbone of agriculture in Africa and they need lots of support. Women reporters should have a better chance of getting out there and telling that story, trying to influence policymakers on behalf of the women who are living the real rural life in Africa,” said Akwe Amosu, a Washington, D.C.-based IWMF board member and former journalist who spent many years covering Africa.
During the first phase of the project, research was conducted in three African countries – Mali, Uganda and Zambia – to document the challenges media face in covering agriculture, rural development and women. The three countries were selected based on agriculture’s important role in their respective communities, their geographical spread, diverse media sectors and accessible media environments. Results of the study will be published in a report in February 2009.
The IWMF is entering into partnership agreements with the heads of six selected media houses in Mali, Uganda and Zambia.
The Centers of Excellence in Uganda are The Daily Monitor, an independent national daily newspaper and the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation. In Zambia, they are The Post and the Zambian National Broadcasting Corporation. The Centers of Excellence were chosen after an assessment of their professional output, their openness to receiving training and their ability to maintain sustainable coverage on agriculture and rural development.
Centers of Excellence are expected to establish foundations for best practices on how to cover agriculture and the role of women within agriculture and rural development and to support gender equality in their newsrooms.
Founded in 1990, the International Women’s Media Foundation is a vibrant global network dedicated to strengthening the role of women in the news media worldwide as a means to further freedom of the press. Reporting on Agriculture and Women: Africa is made possible through a grant from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.
For more information about the IWMF and Reporting on Agriculture and Women: Africa, visit www.iwmf.org.