By Awa Macalo
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has recently concluded a 3-day training with community radio journalists on the agency’s work in The Gambia.
The training was intended to upgrade the capacity of community radio journalists on hosting talk-shows and sensitive reporting on sexual and reproductive health and Gender-Based Violence messaging and information.
The 3-day discussion centred on three thematic areas; ending unmet need for family planning, ending preventable maternal death and ending Gender-Based Violence.
On behalf of Community Radios Association, Amadou O Bah, applauded UNFPA for the foresight, saying that radio journalists are the direct link to the wider audience and as such, their information is taken seriously by communities. He challenged his colleagues to use the knowledge gained and to endeavour to be accurate informants to the public.
The president of the Gambia Press Union, Sheriff Bojang Jr advised participants to filter information before reporting it, particularly issues related to reproductive health and GBV, “since these are life and death issues “.
“People across the world has committed suicide because of discrimination in relations to their gender, their sexuality… I was the first Gambian journalist to have interviewed Toufah [a sexual assault victim] in Senegal and after the interview, I received comments that I should have asked her certain things, which to me were not relevant. My purpose of interviewing Toufah was to give her platform to express herself and tell her story – not to criticise and victimise her more. In the case of reporting on Gender-Based Violence, journalists need to be more vigilant and be guided by their ethics not their emotions,” he remarked.
He reminded them that community radios have audience in all regions across the country and that citizens tend to believe whatever is reported by them. “In that regard,” he said, “more cautions should be put in place”.
The UNFPA country representative, Kunle Adeniyi, said the “best way” to ending certain burning issues like GBV and maternal mortality is through empowering the community radio journalists through capacity building programmes, and on how to host talk-shows on these topics.
“I am convinced that the 3-day training of these 23 community radio journalists would create an impact in their various communities.
The experience gained through this training would help them develop a remarkable platform to talk about these issues in their mediums.”