ACME empowers Ugandan journalists to practice gender-responsive and conflict-sensitive reporting

African Centre for Media Excellence has equipped 50 journalists from various media platforms across Uganda with new skills and knowledge on creating conflict-sensitive and gender-responsive content.

The three-day training was funded by UNESCO, with the aim of improving the capacity of media professionals to report conflict-related issues in a factual, well-researched, and gender-responsive manner, which could help contribute to reconciliation and peace.

The workshop covered various topics, including sex, gender, and power; domestic and international laws; understanding conflict; journalists’ responsibilities in conflict situations; framing; conflict-sensitive language and images; and safeguarding.

The training was designed to fill the gaps in the knowledge base on conflict-sensitive, and gender-responsive reporting, which ACME’s previous research on media coverage of public affairs has indicated is expanding.

ACME trainer, John Baptist Imokola, expressed his hopes that the journalists who attended the training would become better at reporting conflict and dealing with gender issues, starting with their own media houses.

“Beyond that, we expect that we can see an improvement in the kind of journalism that they do. The number of stories and the discussion of these issues in the radio and television programmes in terms of dealing with conflict but also being sensitive so that they are not escalating the conflict in our society. In terms of gender, we expect to see more gender-sensitive stories, more gendered voices in terms of sourcing for both men and women and also the gender dynamics and issues coming out in the stories they do,” he said.

ACME Executive Director George Lugalambi called on journalists to apply the knowledge they acquired in their practical reporting, as journalism and public affairs are dynamic fields that require continuous professionalization.

“The journalists participating in this training have been equipped with the knowledge and skills to ensure that their reporting is responsive to gender and sensitive to conflict, especially in a post-election context like Uganda’s. As we look forward to subsequent political moments, we want to ensure that journalists are prepared because politics in Uganda is very vulnerable to conflict,” he said.

The training also offered a special session on ethics and ethical dilemmas for journalists reporting gender and conflict-sensitive stories.

UNESCO’s project coordinator for Uganda, Charles Draecebo, noted that the training addressed gender-based violence and conflict, especially during elections or community participation.

“We thought that the best way is to engage with the media to provide them with the right skills and knowledge so that when they are reporting, they are sensitive to gender and conflict issues so that the reporting they do does not aggravate any forms of conflict, rather contributes to bringing peace and development in the minds of men and women,” he said.

The training significantly impacted the participants, with some sharing their experiences. Agatha Biira, a reporter from The Standard newspaper, said that she learned the importance of reaching out to women to have equal representation of both men and women in her stories. Miriam Najjingo, a freelance photojournalist, said that she learned she was suppressing women’s voices by not including women’s voices, which propagates gender inequality in society.

In conclusion, the training workshop successfully improved the capacity of media professionals to report conflict-related issues in a factual, well-researched, and gender-responsive manner, which could help contribute to reconciliation and peace. The participants learned new skills and knowledge that they could apply in their practical reporting, which would improve the kind of journalism they do and create more gender-sensitive stories

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