The Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) has inducted 12 female journalists into the Female Reporters Leadership Project (FRLP) under its Report Women Programme.
As part of the induction and award ceremony for the fifth edition held in Lagos State on Monday, three of the 12 journalists were recognised as winners of the edition for their story and leadership project.
The winners received a laptop each and other cash prizes.
Initiated in 2014, the FRLP which has now produced 86 fellows is designed to equip female journalists with skills, support and tools required to position them for the highest leadership positions in their various media houses.
Blessing Oladunjoye of BO News Services emerged as the winner with the story addressing the unethical practices and absence of substantial law on surrogacy and assisted reproductive technology in Nigeria. For her leadership project, she led a capacity-building workshop for entry-level female journalists.
Sarah Ayeku, a presenter with TVC News and Folashade Ogunrinde of TV 360, emerged as the first and second runner up respectively.
Ms Ayeku explored the ineptitude and connivance of some police officers with perpetrators to deny survivors and victims justice, while Ms Ogunrinde’s story highlights the flaws in the administration of criminal justice in Nigeria.
The 2023 fellowship dubbed: “Champion Building Edition” was sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation.
The award ceremony followed a six-month-long leadership and mentorship training programme for the 12 female journalists selected out of the 173 applications from broadcast, online and print media across the six geopolitical zones.
Ijeoma-Okereke, a programme officer at the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) was also inducted into the fellowship.
For her leadership project, Ms Okereke researched the effect of motherhood on the career advancement of female journalists working in Nigerian newsrooms, while her story investigated the poor working conditions of widows and senior citizens in Plateau State.
Other stories ranged from the inaccessibility of the healthcare system for Internally Displaced People (IDP), the aftermath of the Owo attack on women, the conditions of IDPs in Katsina State and the impact on women, maternal mortality in Nigeria and the contributions of untrained traditional birth attendants in Ebonyi state, among others.
In her remarks, the Executive Director of WSCIJ, Motunrayo Alaka, said the fellows have all demonstrated exceptional leadership and investigative prowess through their projects.
Ms Alaka said equipped with skills for newsroom leadership. this year’s cohort has addressed mentorship gaps for female journalists.
She said they also rekindled the aspirations of journalism and mass communication students in journalism as a career path, produced a research report on the impact of motherhood on female journalists working in Nigerian newsrooms and revived the press clubs of two secondary schools.
Report Women programme, other projects
Mrs Alaka noted that the Report Women programme has trained 537 reporters across Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones, produced 131 stories focused on women and girls, conducted comprehensive women-oriented media and carried out three surveys on gender parity in news and newsroom leadership in 2017, 2019 and 2022.
She said that in the coming weeks, WSCIJ will launch a female experts source guide website with over 500 female experts from eight sectors to facilitate their engagement as sources in the news.
In his goodwill message, the Consul General, Kingdom of the Netherlands in Lagos, Michel Deelen, urged journalists to keep impacting the society because what they do matters.
Mr Deelen said the reporting projects have been consistent, broadened, and narrowed to continue to make impacts.
“Proud of what you have achieved and the champions you are presenting are going to be the loving example and the dream for doing this project,” he said.
The Executive Director of Strictly Speaking, Bimbo Oloyede emphasised the need for the fellows to champion the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) which has not been domesticated in Nigeria.
Ms Oloyede also commended the WSCIJ for its intentionality towards the project.
The 2023 fellows are Blessing Oladunjoye of BONews Service, Karina Igonikon of the British Broadcasting Corporation, Pidgin, Rivers, Zubaida Baba Ibrahim – HumAngle Media, Abuja, Ijeoma Okereke-Adagba – Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), Abuja, Sarah Ayeku – TVCNews, Lagos and Fortunate Ozo of Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Ebonyi.
Others are Maryam Abdullahi of The Cable Newspaper, Niger, Folashade Ogunrinde – TV360 Nigeria, Lagos, Bamas Victoria – International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), Abuja, Yemi Olus-Galadima – Making of Champions, Lagos, and Martha Asumata Agas – News Agency of Nigeria, Plateau, and Olufisoye Adenitan of Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Ondo.
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