The coronavirus, no doubt has left a devastating impact on our lives affecting every facet of our livelihood, with some counting their losses and some their gains. As the year 2021 gathers momentum, we reflect on the gains of five alumnae members of our ReportWomen! Female Reporters Leadership Fellowship Programme (FRLP) who thrived amidst the pandemic in 2020 as we spotlight some of their achievements during the Nigeria Media Merit Awards (NMMA) 2020.
It also lays credence to the results from WSCIJ’s 2020 impact assessment report of the FRLP which reveals that the programme opened opportunities for fellows’ personal and professional development, changed media perception about female leadership and the representation of the voice of women as leaders in news report.
Olufunke Fayemi, a 2017 fellow and co-chair of the ReportWomen! network was one of the three nominees for the ‘Radio Programme of the Year’ while 2019 fellow, Justina Asishana also emerged a nominee for the ‘Female Reporter of the Year’ award. Justina’s story ‘We are much more than milkmaids’ implemented under the ReportWomen! Female Reporters Leadership Programme during her fellowship in 2019 qualified for the category. The report highlighted the challenges Fulani girls faced in acquiring education, the nomadic education system, and efforts to improve the enrolment, transmission, and progression of the girls from primary to tertiary education.
On her part, Sharon Ijasan, a 2018 fellow as well as 2018 and 2019 Soyinka Laureate won the Cadbury Nigeria Plc Prize for ‘Television Reporter of the Year’ through her story ‘Child rights, labour laws violated by Chinese companies in Nigeria’ which was awarded runner-up position at the 14th Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting. The report on child labour earned her a Two million Naira grant during the award in 2019 and led to the production of an investigative documentary on the harrowing experience of children sex workers in Lagos, Ibadan, Kwara and Delta states together with Juliana Francis, a 2017 fellow who published a three-part investigative report on the plights of underaged children working in quarries in Imo and Ogun states and the effect of poverty on their childhood.
Under the radio category of awards, Adejoke Fayemi won the ‘Radio Production of the Year’ award based on her story, ‘Lost innocence, a story of child defilement in Kaduna’ implemented as a project under the ReportWomen! Female Reporters Leadership Fellowship Programme. The story examined sexual assault of minors in Kaduna state with a focus on providing medical, psychological, and legal help to victims. Fayemi, who emerged the overall best fellow of the FRLP in 2018, also emerged as the runner-up for the ‘Reporter of the Year’ award from her story titled ‘Early forced marriage’ funded under Free Press Unlimited’s Gender Justice Project.
Crowning the award rush with three awards is our 2017 fellow and the first female overall investigative reporter of the year (as a single entry) at the Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting, Juliana Francis. She emerged the ‘Power Reporter of the Year’, Defence Reporter of the Year’ and ‘Human Rights Reporter of the Year’. Apart from the 3 awards, Francis also received nominations under the ‘Female Reporter of the Year’ and ‘Insurance Reporter of the Year’ award categories.
Francis won the Power Reporter of the year award based on her report ‘Uncovering mafia behind stolen prepaid metres’. She was part of 12 reporters trained in 2018 on reporting electricity under WSCIJ’s Regulators Monitoring Programme (REMOP). Her story on ‘Widows Evil Practices’ funded by Free Press Unlimited’s Gender Justice Project won the Human Rights Reporter of the Year award.
Irrespective of the challenges of sustainability and repression the media faced in the previous year, we are proud of the work all the fellows under the FRLP fellowship are doing. The optimism of achieving our goal of equipping female reporters with the skills and finesse they need to take leadership positions in their newsroom and journalism at large is rekindled. We look forward to more success stories as we increase the quality and quantum of reports about girls and women in Nigeria through the ReportWomen! initiative.