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African Women Journalist Forum gather 300 journalists in Casablanca, Morocco


Strengthening the capacity of African media to cover the subject of climate change


By Nankwanga Eunice Kasirye


Even when Africa is a low emitter of greenhouse gases, it pays heavily for global warming through climate-change hampered development, impoverished biodiversity, destroyed eco system and jeopardized progress in security and stability. It is therefore important for Africa as a continent to understand her true dilemma, craft own solutions and implement through tailor-made modalities. Comprehensive understanding of the true threat of climate change is crucial for decisive realistic mitigation approaches but this cannot be achieved without effective media involvement as partners and agents of change.


It is upon this background that the third edition of the African Women Journalist Forum was held in March 2020, bringing together more than 300 journalists in Casablanca, Morocco. The Forum met under the theme Emergency Climate Change: African Media, Agents of Change which complements the fact that, media is the source of information and influence positive change as well as help raise global awareness of the challenges facing less developed nations.


Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita officially opened the third edition of the African Women Journalist Forum. He emphasized the relevance of the media as willing partners and agents of change in the fight to avert the adverse effects of climate change, especially women journalists with their associated commitment. Nasser explores the usual vigor female journalists would add on the struggle since in their capacity as women, they directly get affected by the negative effects of climate change such as drought, floods and poor food harvest. As mothers, the minister clarified, they trek distances in search for water, and their babies are affected with malnutrition and cannot move when roads are cut off by floods. He said the decision to incorporate women journalists as partners and agents to avert effects of climate change cannot be underestimated and should be given all the support necessary to blossom.


The participants debated modalities for effective media partnership and agency based on seven different thematic areas that included:

   succeeding in Africa’s  energy transition issues and challenges;

   the challenges of sustainable management of water resources;

   sustainable agriculture; a green economy for Africa,

   health impact of climate change, which strategy to adopt;

   what sustainable developments for African cities;

   waste management, a decisive lever in the fight against climate change;

   adaptation of climate change – the media can be agents of change


The later thematic area was unanimously adopted as the 2020/2021 action plan.


The adopted 2020/2021 action plan aims at achieving goals that include:

   Mobilizing the African media for the stimulation of public debates around issues of climate change and its impact of African countries.

   Contribute to enrich the knowledge of African public opinion on the impact of global warming, adaptation and mitigation measures.

   Foster greater visibility of climate issues in the African media.

–   Rely on the African Women journalist’s network to consolidate compliance with the journalist rules and professional ethics in dealing with climate and environmental issues.

   Establish a real force for citizen proposal and influence media organizations essential for effective and powerful dissemination of information.


Violet Gonda, the President of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television said it is long overdue to integrate the African media as agents in climate change Impact assessment, adaptation and mitigation. She added that the journalist should be effectively trained to understand the subject of climate change the related areas of interest to authoritatively inform and influence public paradigm shift. She also challenged a panel of climate change experts “why Africans from Sub-Saharan Africa are still being made to fly via Doha, Dubai, Europe to connect to countries on the continent, if we are talking about reducing carbon emissions on the continent?”


Almost all journalists in attendance from Sub-Saharan Africa could not secure direct flights to North Africa from their respective countries, but spent a couple of days in transit flying, for example, from Kenya to Dubai or from South Africa to France to get connecting to Casablanca. The IAWRT president argued that policy makers on the continent should look into more effective measures to reduce pollution and of connecting Africa especially on the issue of how people travel between countries in Africa.


Salim Cheikh, the General manager of 2M, the forum initiators, said the choice of climate change as the main theme for the forum’s third edition is to reaffirm the major role of the media in informing and raising awareness among African societies on major strategic issues. The media is also the major catalyst for initiating a paradigm shift for a common vision and changing perceptions linked the realities of Africa as a continent.


According to Khadijja Boujanoui, the Chairperson of 2M, the 3rd edition of the Forum for Women Journalists of Africa’s emphasis should be on strengthening the capacity of African media to cover the subject of climate change as stimuli to African plan and implementation of national policies that regulate the impact of climate change. She notes the need for journalists to have accurate and relevant information both on climate phenomena and on policies at the regional, national and international levels.


Fettouma Djerrari BenabDembi, an expert on Earth and Humanism, stressed that the media as the agent of change has the obligation to promote Climate Resilience as the area of concentration through giving back to the soil that provides food to humanity. She said African communities need to be educated that good farming practices with concentration on organic crops create climate resilience through raw material organic residues turned into hygienic residues for fertilization regeneration. The composites residues do not only regenerate soil health/ fertility but also boosts the economic status of the farmers the expert asserts. The organic residue from farm produce could be collected for farm fertilizers sold to other famers and current projected statistics indicate that a tone of tomato residue may cost a farmer 27 Euros but sells off at 40 Euros which makes an economic sense.


Africa has the potential to thrive on sustainable agriculture since she owns 25% of fertile land in the world with the capacity to produce organic food, the most sought after in the world.  The media as the partner and agent of change for sustainable agriculture with key emphasis to organic crops and bio diversity, should be able to create messages in languages that speak directly to the local farmers if comprehensive appreciation of sustainable agriculture should be supported and fully re-integrated with in Africa.



IAWRT President Violet Gonda, Vice President Abeer Saady and IAWRT Uganda chapter president Nankwanga Eunice Kasirye at the African Women Journalist Forum


0522 lynda article

IAWRT chapter heads join IAWRT Philippines online protest


The event was organized quickly following arrest of two IAWRT Philippines members on May 1


by Lynda Catindig-Garcia



On May 3, the IAWRT Philippine Chapter hosted a World Press Freedom Day online protest in solidarity with all journalists around the world. It was an unforgettable experience because it was the first time that IAWRT organized an online protest rally via Zoom. The event was moderated by Janess Ellao of Bulatlat, also IAWRT’s members officer.


The opening remarks was delivered by Abeer Saady, Vice President of IAWRT. She expressed that one should know the truth and women journalists must do their mission in their societies and communities. She added that the measures to address the COVID -19 pandemic has been used by different governments as a threat against freedom of expression. Saady emphasized that the safety of journalists remains a primary concern at this time and those who are detained must be released.


In the statement read by IAWRT Philippine Chapter President Lynda Catindig-Garcia, the Philippines has its own share of assaults against press freedom and against the messengers of truth during this time. IAWRT Philippines decried the illegal arrests and detention of journalists.


“It appears that covering for public information has become a criminal offense. In the face of the growing health crisis, reporting from the perspective of the poor and the disenfranchised is even more important. It is through this lens that we continue to expose what appears to be a government failure to provide the people’s immediate needs including food and health services. Access to this information is a human right,” read the IAWRT Philippines statement.


IAWRT members from all over the world expressed their solidarity with the the IAWRT Philippines members who were arrested and charged and one that remains in jail amid the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns in different areas in the Philippines.


From a video message of Rhea Padilla of Altermidya, a network of alternative media outfits in the Philippines, she emphasized that the cases of the journalists arrested in Iloilo (two of whom are IAWRT members) have to be withdrawn from the courts. Frenchie Mae Cumpio, also an IAWRT member, has been detained on “trumped up charges” since February.


Another video message came from IAWRT International Board member Archana Kapoor. She said that the attacks on the media is a new norm and it suppresses the journalists’ and the peoples’ freedom of expression. She invited everyone to condemn the use of law against our basic human rights , we must stand together support press without fear or favor.


IAWRT India Chapter President Nupur Basu expressed that the charges against two IAWRT Philippine journalists must be withdrawn, because they are not criminals and journalists should have not been jailed. She said the women journalists are in the eye of the storm and they are experiencing severe attacks together with male journalists.


IAWRT US Chapter Vice-President Rebecca Myles expressed dismay at the attacks against freedom of expression. She said that Universal Declaration of Human Rights declared this, to hold opinions, as a basic human right.


Eunice Nankwanga, IAWRT Uganda Chapter President, said women are experiencing hard times. The information is not disseminated. Women journalists are abused and must stand together, and fight for their space. She stressed that there is no compromise with one’s work and integrity.


IAWRT Kenya Chapter President Josephine Karani said that journalists are targeted by the state when they perform their duties. But journalists must stand up and say NO to this suppression of our duties and rights, perform journalism without fear or favor.


International Board Member Greta Gober said World Press Freedom Day is a great occasion to show solidarity. She said that in every crisis there is disinformation, journalists are marginalized, journalists are attacked and are in danger. Women and girls are prone to challenges and we need our journalists for their voice to be amplified.


In between the statements presented, there were three performances by various Filipino artists from different parts of the world. Levi Abad sang a song on press freedom, political prisoners and the disenfranchised in society. IAWRT Philippines member Aileen Cuevas read a poem.


Garcia recapped the online rally. The international network of IAWRT expressed solidarity among members and chapters and journalists in the world who are covering and experiencing this pandemic. The event was a much-needed morale boost in these difficult times.


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A short video on tips on how to avoid misinformation during COVID-19 pandemic

IAWRT Philippines chapter head Lynda Garcia shares how we can promote proper information dissemination


“We’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic”, said World Health Organizing Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the Munich Security Conference on Feb 15.


With so much information being shared in new media today, there is a need to teach family members about the importance of Media and Information Literacy because fake news spreads faster, causing a lot of confusion and division, sometimes between family members themselves. 


Communication expert and Miriam College Communication Department chair Lynda Garcia explains how we can promote health and safety through proper information dissemination in a short video.

She cautions families about one of the biggest pandemic risks–viral misinformation—and gives tips on how to avoid it.

The video is created and published by Miriam College Family Studies as part of their “From Breakdown to Breakthrough” series.



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IAWRT joins organizations supporting this call to action

Global Forum for Media Development and other groups launch appeal on World Press Freedom Day.

To mark World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, more than 165 journalism support, media development, and press freedom organisations and networks are making an emergency appeal for action, support and assistance to journalism organisations and independent media during the COVID-19 crisis.

Millions of people around the world are looking for reliable, fact-based journalism that can help them navigate the biggest shared challenge of our lifetime.

But at this crucial moment, independent media are facing an unprecedented existential challenge. With the perfect storm of disinformation and misinformation, repression of critical voices in many countries, and disruption caused by the COVID-19 crisis, the situation facing journalism and news media is dire. Revenues for these institutions are collapsing, and funding is decreasing just when we need it most.

The consequences will be felt globally, but the information crisis and the health crisis is certain to be most acute in resource-poor communities.

In response to these huge challenges we – the press freedom, media development, and journalism support communities – launch this ‘Emergency Appeal for Journalism and Media Support calling for bold and robust action from six groups: governments; journalism and media development donors and funders; journalism and media organisations; technology, telecommunication companies, and Internet intermediaries; advertisers; and audiences.

The Emergency Appeal for Journalism and Media Support was launched as a collaborative effort by the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD), the International Civil Society Organization on the Safety of Journalists Coalition (ICSO SoJ Coalition), and numerous GFMD members, partners, and affiliate networks.

The statement is a call to action to governments; journalism and media development donors and funders; journalism and media organisations; technology, telecommunication companies, and Internet intermediaries; advertisers, and all those who rely on journalism and news media to stay informed in this unprecedentedly challenging time.

Read the full text of the appeal and the list of signatories here.

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IAWRT Vice President Abeer Saady shares her time and expertise

Abeer shared her expertise and insights to help journalists cover the pandemic safely and ethically.

by Lady Ann Salem


IAWRT Vice President Abeer Saady is a safety trainer and the author of IAWRT’s Safety Handbook for Women Journalists “What if…?”, now in English and Arabic. She has given safety training to journalists working in hostile areas in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen, Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Bahrain and elsewhere. She has also given safety training in IAWRT international conferences, such as those held in the Philippines and Uganda.


When the COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in February and governments imposed various measures to control the outbreak, covering the pandemic has also become a safety issue for journalists. For one, they are risking their own health and safety every single day to provide news and information to the world. The lockdowns and other measures imposed have also been used by some governments to limit or restrict coverage by media or also used the current situation to undermine freedom of expression and press freedom. Some governments are now easing lockdowns and the world has yet to feel the blow to the economy and big job losses in the media may also be expected.


In various Zoom webinars and online forums, Abeer shared her expertise and insights to help journalists cover the pandemic safely and ethically.


This is to help make sure no one gets hurt on the ground or get imprisoned while covering events that some government may have restricted during this time, as well as be on their guard to exercise and defend freedom of expression and press freedom.


ICFJ Webinar 21: Journalism Safety on the Frontline: How to Protect Yourself While #CoveringCOVID

Streamed on April 27, 2020


How can journalists protect themselves physically, psychologically, and digitally while #CoveringCOVID? What should employers be doing to support them? And what long term effects should we prepare for now? Abeer Saady and Dart Center Asia Pacific Director Dr. Cait McMahon joined International Center for Journalist’s Global Director of Research Dr. Julie Posetti to explore these issues and share practical advice that journalists can immediately begin implementing on the ground.






ARIJ Safety and Ethics Challenges Covering COVID-19 with Abeer Saady

Streamed on April 10


What are the occupational safety measures currently required during the coverage of the Corona Virus pandemic, depending on the nature of my work (as reporter, photographer, radio / TV set, news editor, investigative reporter)? How do I protect my equipment and maintain my physical and psychological integrity? How do I deal with different ethical dilemmas (promoting rumors, checking news, straining authorities, evading official sources, respecting privacy, dilemmas related to photography and publishing visual materials such as photos, videos and statistics)? Do I go to the stone hospitals to get a special story? What are the rules for conducting interviews with patients and experts?


These and other questions were answered during the fourth ARIJ digital meeting in 2020 as part of the ARIJ series and webinars.





Goethe Institut Kairo webinar on science reporting and fake news

Streamed on May 6


Abeer Saady was interviewed by Ashraf Amin, director of the scientific department at al-Ahram newspaper, on misleading information and safety measures for journalists in times of COVID-19. See video here.



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ABS-CBN last went off air when martial law was declared in 1972

This is the first time a network was forced to go off air since nationwide martial law was imposed in 1972.

by Agatha Hazel Rabino


The long-winding issue of the non-renewal of ABS-CBN franchise once again came to fore in a shock cease and desist order serbed by the telecoms regulatory agencyto the network on May 5, a day after the franchise expired on May 4.


ABS-CBN, its radio and all regional networks was forced to go off the air on May 5, the night the ational Telecommunications Commission (NTC) served their order. It was the first time a network was forced to go off air and a black screen came up since nationwide martial law was imposed in 1972 by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. He was removed from office in the People Power uprising in February 1986, after which media outfits reopened and the country’s present constitution was drafted and established.


President Rodrigo Duterte talked of shutting ABS-CBN down by blocking its franchise extension since he came to the presidency in 2016.


The House of Representatives, one of two chambers of Congress, has failed to act on pending legislations for the franchise renewal, with its leadership’s indecisiveness to tackle the issue even as the expiry of the franchise loomed. If not for mounting public pressure and unwanted negative publicity, they had only on March this year after all these years (at least three years) they could have acted on it, made the NTC promise to give the network a provisional authority to operate after May 4 because they were adjourning soon and would have no time to tackle the bill.


The bill had to go to Senate and that would take time as well and then to the president for his signature, as any law would, and can be vetoed or can lapse into law after 30 days, taking time once more. It was like a happy medium to a tumultuous issue.


The Senate, the other chamber of Congress, in its hearing in February established ABS-CBN had no violations. Department of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the Kapamilya Box Office offering was allowed in ABS-CBN’s franchise.


But come May 5, NTC went back on its word following the government’s lawyer, Solicitor General Jose Calida’s threat to sue NTC officials for graft if they give the network a provisional authority.


ABS-CBN has been off the air for a full week. Congress legislation will take time.


Duterte’s chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo yesterday questioned ABS-CBN Corp’s petition to the Supreme Court seeking to stop NTC’s order to shut down its broadcast operations, citing technicalities over the plea. This was despite Presidential Spokesperon Harry Roque, who replaced Panelo in this post last month), said Duterte will be neutral and will leave the fate of ABS-CBN’s franchise to Congress. Roque said Duterte is not inclined to veto the bill unless there is any constitutional infirmity.


But, the Filipino people will really just probably see when it gets there, right?


Meanwhile, 11,000 workers of ABS-CBN in the whole country is at risk to lose their jobs at this time that already saw economic losses and insufficient food and financial aid for the people during the lockdown.

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Forum with Syrian and Kurdish journalists

Forum on “Media and civil society institutions in the time of Corona. Freedom versus responsibility. Are we ready?”.

by Binay Shorsh



On World Press Freedom Day, the Syrian Kurdish Journalists Union in cooperation with the Amsterdam-based Free Press Unlimited held a virtual seminar through the Zoom.


Two members of the IAWRT Iraq-Kurdistan chapter joined the seminar: Awaz Salim Abdullah, chapter head and Niaz Abdullah.


The following resource persons participated in the forum:

Dr. Abeer Saady – Vice President of IAWRT

Ahmed Sheikh Sidi – Director of Programs at the Center for Civil Society and Democracy

Ali Nimer – Official, Violations Documentation Office, Syrian Kurdish Journalist Union


The symposium dealt with the violations that journalists are exposed: in particular, the reality of journalistic work in the region, and in general, the challenges facing journalistic work in light of the current coronavirus disease crisis. They also discussed the role of civil society organizations under the current circumstances and their contribution to meeting the needs of society.


Another relevant topic was raised in the discussion: Does the independent Syrian media touch on the suffering of people and reflect their fears?


The participants of the seminar also sent messages of solidarity to IAWRT Philippines members who were arrested on May 1 as they were reporting on a protest against the killing of an activist just the day before. They were detained for a day and were released on bail and will still continue to face the charges filed against them. They also joined the online protest calling to free women journalists around the world.

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Radio Mewat is a community radio in the most backward district in India.

Mewat has one of the lowest media penetration in the country, but a high mobile phone penetration, which also doubles up as a potent radio listening-tool.

by Archana Kapoor


It was 9:31pm, on April 8, 2020,  Imran a reporter with Radio Mewat had just parked his motorcycle outside his house, 10 kms away from the community radio station, when his phone rang. He was surprised to see the District Collector’s (DC) number, he answered the phone.




Imran: Namaste Sir.

DC: Namaste is your radio on?

Imran:  Yes Sir, I just returned home, Sohrab is on air.

DC: Ok, I want to make a public announcement.

Imran: Sure Sir, please go ahead.

DC: You will record now and will you be able to broadcast it?

Imran: Yes Sir, please go ahead.

DC: Okay…


The Collector gave his message that they will be sealing around 120 villages because of the spike in COVID-19 cases, and there will be a complete lockdown post 2pm the next day. He provided a number that people could call; home deliveries of essentials would be provided. At the same time, he appealed to shopkeepers to register their willingness to be part of the home delivery chain. He urged the people of Mewat to stay calm and not panic.


He asked Imran if this could be broadcast now. Imran replied yes. That Radio Mewat will not only broadcast it right away, but will repeat it several times, answer queries related with this and rebroadcast it in the morning, too.


Imran immediately sent the audio file to his colleague who was doing a live show on Coronavirus from the studio. The message was broadcast at 10:01 pm and repeated several times till 11:30 pm. The Chief Administrator had decided to break news on the district’s community radio station.


But this was not the only time that Radio Mewat, help had been sought by district administration.  Ever since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Superintendent of Police, the Chief Medical Officer and others had used the radio to inform the people of Mewat about the spread of the disease, how to stay safe, how to protect one’s self and their families, what time the fair price shops would open to where migrants could get free food and more.


Ever since the pandemic broke out, Radio Mewat has reworked its schedule to include more of COVID-19 related information. Daily, five to six bulletins are being broadcast, besides sharing stories of how people during lockdown, how lives of farmers, daily wagers, shopkeepers, mechanics and others were being impacted.


Women are the main focus of the radio, but they have limited access to the mobile phone. To tide over this problem, the women reporters of Radio Mewat had been narrowcasting programmes on women’s health and nutrition, addressing domestic violence, teaching them thrift, investing in children’s education, etc. This gave the reporters an opportunity to not only share their programmes but also listen and record stories of the women and the challenges that they face. Today, in the lockdown period, Radio Mewat’s women reporters are calling 20-30 women every day to check on them, listen to them and give them an opportunity to speak and voice their concerns.


A hyper local medium that believe ‘giving voice to the voiceless’ as its primary role, Radio Mewat has changed its tag line to, ‘Community radio cares for its community’. It is also providing livelihoods by engaging with its women listener groups, most of them victims of violence, to stitch masks. The reporters have got curfew passes issued, and are going from village to village to deliver the cloth, collect masks and make payments. This has given them an added advantage of checking in on their listeners and their well-being.


Unlike many other mediums that have suffered due to slowdown, Radio Mewat has been standing strong in this hour of crisis and serving its community without fear or favour.


The Context:

Mewat (now Nuh) in Haryana is the most backward district in India. Many of the locals seem to have been infected by a globally itinerant clergy belonging to Tablighi Jamaat, which incidentally was founded in Mewat in 1926.

The people of Mewat, largely Muslim, subsist on seasonal livelihoods. Mewat is not far from Gurgaon and Delhi, but is home to some of the most vulnerable and marginalised groups in the country, including more than 2000 Rohingya refugees.


Until March 31, 2020, this district did not report a single case of COVID-19. However, in less than two weeks, Nuh saw an explosion of coronavirus cases. The number of positive COVID-19 cases in the district went up from 1 to 58 in less than 3 weeks, primarily due to the returnees of Tablighi Jamaat testing positive. The one and only Medical College was turned into a COVID-19 center with patients ailing from other diseases, shifted to other facilities.


Lack of clean drinking water, paucity of running water and with evidence of a prevalence of low sanitation and hygiene, there is little awareness of the urgency for washing hands regularly, covering their face and not spitting in the open. Over and above this the non-existent medical infrastructure comprising doctors and frontline medical workers, the people of Mewat could be seeing a calamity in the coming days.


Mewat has one of the lowest media penetration in the country, with barely 10% homes owning TV sets. However, the area has a high mobile phone penetration, which also doubles up as a potent radio listening-tool. There is an urgent need to curate and disseminate content with a local perspective, in the local dialect, by a credible media tool which does not only serve as a bridge between the administration and the community, but has also earned the latter’s trust amongst the highly illiterate and suspicious population. The information sharing needs to be updated, relevant and moulded to the local sensibilities of the community. This makes Radio Mewat the ideal medium to create awareness regarding COVID-19 and the dissemination of timely and credible information.



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Situation of female journalists in Uganda during the COVID-19 outbreak


To be a journalist in Uganda is ideally complicated, but to be a female journalist becomes more complicated and worse when you are a female freelance journalist. 


by Nankwanga Eunice Kasirye



A time like this when the world is under a lockdown over the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation becomes worse, for the journalist is expected to facilitate the survival of others with provision of timely and accurate information.



The scared families and individuals under the lockdown, the policy makers and other frontline teams at the fight of the epidemic are basically dependent on the media to make decisions.


The situation automatically presents a journalist as the pivot at a time of survival like this of the COVID-19 outbreak. The media is expected to provide timely, accurate and relevant information for the governments and other focal frontliners as well as the public yet the journalists as individuals are equally members of the communities under the lockdown therefore require the same attention as others.


Unfortunately, the national government plans in a country like Uganda expect the journalists to be fully facilitated by the media houses they work for. Yet most of these media houses operate at a half budget under the looming fear of collapse after the COVID-19 lockdown.


The media setting is predominantly private in Uganda, largely surviving on revenues generated from the advertisements that no longer come in during the lockdown. Most of the journalists operate as freelance journalists who are paid per a story on file and published or aired.


The media houses like other enterprises are minimizing costs because there is little or no income coming in at the moment therefore keeping a few key workers at the station preferably those with personal vehicles and bikes plus a few others without personal transport but are so vital to the daily running of the station. The arrangement naturally leaves out majority of the journalists because most cannot afford personal transport. Others are freelancers paid per story therefore have to ideally maneuver through to survive.  Most of the staff reporters are currently paid half salary and the budget for freelance reporters is put on hold until further notes.


The media houses prefer the male journalists at the station during a time like this when public transport is completely shut down and a nation-wide security daily curfew in place starting at 7:30pm. But the decision on who is ready to dare the harder times is reached at without a consensus otherwise may be some female journalist would brave the hard times if given a chance.


I engaged a cross section of female journalists in Kampala to share their experience during the Covid19 complete lock down and how they are affected.


Keno Lilian is a chief News Editor at Radio One, one of the most listened to radio in the Uganda. She says for purposes of social distancing during the COVID-19 epidemic scare the majority of the newsroom staff were stopped from work, leaving a few at the station.  Lillian says it is harder for the female journalists to be effective during the lockdown since most of them don’t have the means to get to office and the field. The male journalists are preferred since they are able to take extra efforts to ride bicycles to the field and office which could be a little harder with the female counterparts for several reasons not ignoring the cultural orientations surrounding cycling.


Eva Namugabi is a radio freelance journalist. She laments the tough times amidst the COVID-19 epidemic lockdown. She says she earns per story therefore cannot earn unless she has filed one. But when the media house she is attached to made adjustment to minimize costs, the freelance budget was the first area of adjustment. Unless it is a breaking big story, the freelance cannot file any story to be paid for. In situations where she could go an extra mile to look for a bigger story, she can’t afford it since she has no personal means of transport and the media house cannot transport her. Eva says her husband is not among the essential worker sector therefore affected by the lockdown therefore not earning making it more complicated otherwise her husband would have facilitated her for field and office commuting.


Veroca Kayanga is senior court journalists she has been working for her media station for more than 10 year, but has never been put on permanent staff or given any incentives besides the basic pay per stories she files. Veronica says it is generally so hard to operate in normal circumstances but harder at a time like this when the world is on a lockdown. She says despite the lockdown of public transport and no facilitation from her employer, she has to walk her way to the field, to office and back to her home because she has to survive despite the complications that come with lockdown. She laments that as female journalists she works for basic survival with no hope of career development and growth because it is not provided for even when one works to the best of her abilities.



Nalujja Shamshad is a health reporter who has been at the forefront of reporting about COVID-19 since its outbreak in Uganda. Shamshad says besides the hardship in transport that sometimes calls for walking long distances to work, her fellow journalists resented her for fear of contracting the virus from her. Shamasha says most journalists did not want to cover stories around COVID-19, but she took a brave stand to take on the assignments even when it requires going into quarantine areas where the exposed persons are kept for monitoring by the medical teams. Despite the resentment and other hardships involved, Shamashad is grateful that she braved covering the COVID-19 stories and it is upon that she was chosen among the few allowed to work during the lockdown and that is important for her since she earns per a story filed.


Fleriah Nalwanga is a manager at Impact Radio and Dream Television. She says the COVID-19 woos have hit the media industry real hard. Fleria says they have been forced to make drastic cuts on cost, send the biggest percentage of the staff home and unfortunately departments with more women as staff is most affected. She clarifies that the staff members who were willing to stay at the station premises during the COVID-19 crisis were preferred and all of them are male workers. Those sent home are no longer paid a salary, but given allowances and some food handouts and it is likely that majority may not be called back to their jobs even after the COVID-19 crisis.


The journalists/media is always at the forefront of all situations to ensure that information moves timely and accurately and are quick at profiling and fronting who should be the hero in certain public fights such as the current global crisis of COVID-19.


Less or no attention is given to these gallant fighters not only during crisis but generally the journalists are assumed to have no need for a pat on the shoulder and to be prioritized. It is therefore important that welfare of the individual journalists is prioritized because the media is the fulcrum of society with the power to make or cripple public opinion and narratives. And not forgetting that even when being a good journalist so hard and daring, the female journalist requires extra bravery to do her job.

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The International Association of Women in Radio and Television salutes women journalists and all media workers in the world on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day on May 3.

IAWRT statement on World Press Freedom Day 2020

Journalists are observing this day in solidarity with each other from the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, working from their homes under lockdown, in online protests and gatherings, or languishing in jails for simply doing their job.

As the profession of journalism has become an increasingly dangerous vocation in the world over, persevering in this job and affirming our commitment to the public and their right to information has become in itself a triumph for press freedom.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) tallied at least 1,340 journalists killed in relation to their work.  We remember them on this day. CPJ also recorded at least 250 journalists are incarcerated across the world. One of them is IAWRT Philippines member Frenchie Mae Cumpio, detained since February 2017 and vulnerable in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country’s jails that reported 394% congestion rate in 2019. We demand for the immediate release of imprisoned journalists.

In our world today, journalists not only face the dangers of reporting in conflict situations or risking their lives to bring the news, but also the many downsides of the virtually-connected world such as online harassment meant to intimidate us from reporting or bully us to leave this work or cyberattacks that keep our reports from the people.

During this time of COVID-19 pandemic, governments are employing extraordinary measures to contain the outbreak and the same justification has been used in many parts of the world for restrictions to reporting or access to information, “fake news” charges against the people or the press, and other instances that undermine press freedom and freedom of expression. We must be on our guard to defend press freedom at all times—as this would also enable the people to safeguard their hard-won civil liberties.

UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day theme this year is “Journalism without fear or favour.” This theme is embodied in 2020 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize laureate Jineth Bedoya Lima, a Colombian investigative journalist who reported on the armed conflict and peace process in Colombia and on sexual violence against women. She was herself of sexual violence in 2000 when she was abducted and raped in connection with an investigation into arms trafficking. We extend our recognition to Ms. Bedoya who can be an inspiration to many women journalists in these difficult times.

This theme is also embodied in so many other women journalists—each one of us who are now reporting in the frontlines, trying to carve out space for women’s voices and stories, fighting for women’s bylines or standing up for press freedom. We need media workers reporting without fear now more than ever.