By Omar Bah
The Economic Community of West African States Ecowas has appealed to Gambian journalists to report responsibly during the December election to ensure the process is transparent and peaceful.
The selected journalists and CSOs were trained on the role of the media in promoting participatory democracy in The Gambia.
The participants were urged to prioritise fact-checking while reporting on electoral matters and ensure fair treatment in terms of access to all political parties during the electoral process.
Journalists were urged to write reports that will change attitudes by portraying women and men as equally valued and diverse, rather than re-enforcing problematic gender-based stereotypes.
The training was organised by Gender Centre for Empowerment and Development (GENCED West Africa) in close collaboration with the Directorate Political Affairs, ECOWAS Commission and the Office of the Resident Representative of the ECOWAS in The Gambia.
The Ecowas head of division democracy & good governance department of political affairs, peace and regional security, Emmanuel E. Okorodudu commended the media and civil society organisations for the role they continue to play in ensuring the sustenance of democracy in The Gambia.
Mr Okorodudu said the West African regional bloc is committed to continue supporting The Gambia in its democratisation process.
“This training is part of the many interventions Ecowas is making in The Gambia to ensure the country sustains its new found democracy. At Ecowas, we are aware of the important role played by the media and civil society in promoting good governance,” he said.
The respected Ecowas political and security expert said there cannot be a functional democracy without a vibrant media.
The director for Gender Center for Empowering Development, Tawiah Esther urged journalists to consider gender-sensitive reporting as a key principle of professional media production.
“Journalists should ask politicians some gender relevant questions in order to address the gender gaps in decision making,” she said. She said politicians should be asked how they intend to address the issues of FGM, early marriage and create equally opportunities for women.
“Journalists should avoid reporting issues that cause division and hatred,” he said.
The GPU vice president, Muhammed S Bah enjoined journalists to report professionally and give due diligence to facts.
He said the training is “very timely as the country prepares for what would be one of its tensest presidential elections in history”. “The Gambia has never undergone such a high participatory election in its history and it is less than three months away. So it is important that the media and the civil society are well-trained to be able to check the process from the start to the end to ensure that it is transparent and peaceful,” he said.