Several Liberian Journalists have benefitted from a two day media training on Sexual Gender Based Violence, Harmful Practices and Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in the country.
The training held at the University of Liberia Fendell Campus, was organized by the Department of Mass Communication of the University of Liberia, in Partnership with UNICEF. It was held under the theme ” The Media: key to ending SGBV, HP and SEA..
It brought together media practitioners from across seven counties: Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Rivercess, Bong, Bomi, Margibi and Grand Cape Mount.
The Journalists were trained by several media gurus and facilitators including Euriahs Togar, Charles B. Coffey Jr., Frank Sainworla, Sydney Nicole and the Child protection officer at UNICEF, Madam Ina Christensen.
Topics covered are Media Law and Ethics with emphasis on Sexual Gender Based Violence, The media and Agenda setting: the power to highlight SGBV issues, the role of the media in child protection and the prevention of SGBV and harmful practices against children.
At the opening ceremony UNICEF Child Protection Officer, Madam Ina Christensen, emphasized the pivotal role the media plays in society, noting that journalists should use their various platforms in reporting those stories that affect the lives of the people.
According to her, using the media to create awareness and sensitization about SGBV is key and as such, journalists need to be more proactive in their reportage about the subject. “This is very crucial especially when it comes to the fight against SGBV and Harmful Practices and Sexual Exploitation and Abuse” the UNICEF Official added.
Madam Christensen cautioned that any efforts to document SGBV for the purposes of media reporting must first prioritize survivors’ safety and wellbeing, which according to her, must take precedent over other objectives.
Also speaking, The President of the Press Union of Liberia Charles Coffey urged Journalists to always avoid being sentimental in reporting cases of sexual Gender based violence. Mr. Coffey wants Journalists to report cases of SGBV with fairness and objectivity.
Mr Coffey then admonished journalists to utilize the knowledge acquired properly in the interest of the country.
He expressed optimism that the selected media institutions will report on stories that will bring to book, perpetrators of rape cases and SGBV issues to ensure that policy makers and duty bearers of the society take the needed actions.
At the same time, Former Information Minister, Cletus Sieh is calling for the empowerment of the media in reporting on Sexual and Gender Based Violence issues.
Mr. Sieh said the empowerment of the media must not only be left with Media Managers but must also include interventions from government and international partners.
He said such empowerment requires the inclusion of financial and other material resources’ to enable journalists perform adequately.
“We as government, managers of media institutions and partners need not to only empower the media with workshops, but to financially empower them to ensure they go beyond the villages and towns to dig out the hard facts that will put an end to SGBV crimes and harmful traditional Practices.”
Mr. Sieh was speaking at the workshop opening when he served as a proxy for the President of the University of Liberia, Rev. Dr. Julius Sawolo Nelson.
For his part, the Vice President for Administration at the University of Liberia, Dr. Moses Zinnah said the two day training will enlighten the participants in the best way in the performance of their duties.
UL Mass Communication Department Chairman Euriahs Togar cautioned participants of the training to always highlight SGBV issues in their reportage, stressing that the society depends on the media to show the way.
Mr. Togar then cautioned the participants to utilize that training acquired over the last two days and make a difference at their various entities.
For their parts, the participants lauded that Department of Mass Communication of the University of Liberia and partners for the training.