Another community of change makers have emerged at the award ceremony held to close out the 2019 Report Women! Female Reporters Leadership Programme (FRLP) Fellowship, an initiative of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) with support from Free Press Unlimited (FPU). The ceremony closes the six month fellowship which entailed a four-day training, three-month mentorship, two-day share-fair as well as story and leadership projects that was executed by the fellows.
The event, which held in Lagos on Tuesday, 26th November 2019, was lit with the experiences shared by the fellows. They told the untold stories, enunciated the impact their story and leadership projects had made, not only on the people they engaged, but on themselves. A common expression among them was “I am now a better person”.
To open the event, a 15-minute documentary chronicling the exciting ride of the twenty fellows with their mentors – Veteran broadcaster, Bimbo Oloyede; Executive Director, Media Career Development Network, Lekan Otufodunrin, Deputy Director, Enterprise Development Centre, Pan-Atlantic University, Nneka Okekearu; and Board Chair, NigeriaInfo Radio Group, Rotimi Sankore – as well as the WSCIJ was viewed.
Motunrayo Alaka, Executive Director/CEO, WSCIJ, in a video message reiterated the need for the fellows to be intentional about changing the stories of women in Nigeria and the leadership status of females in the newsroom.
She noted that mainstreaming gender requires the involvement of all irrespective of their gender. In her words, “It is not a his and hers war; this is really about humanity and the dignity of human beings, whether male or female. And so, let us continue to ensure that we include others as we do this campaign especially our male counterparts”.
Speaking on the journey of the 2019 Report Women! FRLP fellows, their story and leadership projects, and their testimonies about how the fellowship has impacted them, Toyin Adeniran, a Programme Officer with the WSCIJ, challenged the fellows to continue to stir actions that would eventually catalyse into solutions for generations now and hereafter.
The fellows had implemented stories that mirror the realities of today’s women and girls and the stereotypic glass ceilings that must be broken in order to make the change desired in our world possible. The fellows looked into various core issues plaguing the female gender like education – out-of-school children; health/mental health resulting from traumatic experiences, among many others.
Congratulating the fellows, mentors and the WSCIJ, Davide Soto Naranjo, Program Coordinator, FPU expressed that they were proud of the hard work and the investigations carried out on issues that are vital not only for women but for the society as a whole. “We trust that you have what it takes to be true leaders of social change”, he said.
Lekan Otufodunrin, representing the mentors, commended the WSCIJ and the Free Press Unlimited for the worthy initiative, which according to him, is very unique and intentional in many ways.
He charged the fellows to keep at setting the pace for other female journalists. He said, “You must continue to be good ambassadors of this project by raising the bars in your performance in your various organisations. Own your leadership projects and scale them up as some of you are already doing”.
Abosede Omoruyi, a broadcaster with TVC News, and Public Relations Officer of Report Women Network (REWoN), the alumnae network of the Report Women! FRLP, welcomed the new cohort of fellows into the network. She mentioned that November was adopted the REWoN month and the network ensures that stories that amplify the wins and woes of women and girls are pushed out in the month for impact.
Winding down the event, certificates were presented to all the fellows and awards to the top three – Azeezat Adedigba of Premium Times, winner; Shola Soyele of Channels Television, 1st runner-up; and Theresa Igomu of The Sun, second runner-up. The awardees were selected based on the aggregate points they scored on the story and leadership projects they executed. Each were presented with a brand new HP laptop and cash prizes of N200,000, N150.000 and N100.000 respectively.
Funke Treasure Durodola, a former Assistant Director of Programmes, Lagos Operations of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), expressed her joy to be a part of the event. She commended the WSCIJ for the commitment in keeping the initiative running year after year, and better. She told the fellows that it is not enough to do stories, but to follow-up these stories until it yields the aspired results.
While closing the event, Adeolu Adekola, Senior Programme Officer, noted that the journey has just begun for the new fellows.
“Celebrate your wins today, but going forward, look at the bigger picture; ensure that your gender lens is always on. When it looks like it’s getting rusty, dust it and sharpen yourselves over and over again,” he said.
Adekola appreciated the mentors for their time and effort at keeping the participants on their toes; the WSCIJ team for their undaunting commitment to the project; and the guests for making out time to attend the event.
The FRLP Fellowship is aimed at equipping female reporters with the skill, finesse, support and tool to reach the top echelon of authority in their media houses while driving lasting and far-reaching changes within their spaces and in the society. The 2019 Fellowship which is the third in the series received 207 applications from nine countries and the 20 fellows included a reporter from Ghana.