The Wole Soyinka Centre For Investigative Journalism, WSCIJ, on Friday honored female journalists who were part of its Female Reporters Leadership Fellowship Program.

The award and appreciation programme, which saw the best three fellows receive special prizes, held at the Central Business District, CBD, GRA, Ikeja.

The Leadership Fellowship, supported by the Free Press Unlimited, was designed to empower female journalists with the skills, finesse, support and tools to take bold steps that help position them for the highest leadership roles in their various media houses.

According to the organization, the initiative, which is a part of the WSCIJ Report Women program, is helping to mobilize a network of female journalists that are oriented for leadership as well as create a train-the-trainer team who better appreciate the importance of mainstreaming gender in news.

The pilot exposure included a three-day training, three-month mentorship, a fair-share as well as leadership and story fellowship projects for 15 fellows spanning over six months.

Speaking at the award ceremony, Motunrayo Alaka, the programme director at the center, explained that the media is like a magic mirror which reflects the society. Mrs. Alaka explained that the media also has the capacity to go into that mirror and make changes as it can set agenda, narratives and frame perspectives.

“The media itself has its own challenges and one of those things is the gender issues,” she explained.

“In management position, it is a 9-1 ratio in many media houses; many media houses don’t have women in their management (cadre). So how does the media set agenda for gender balance when it does not live gender balance?

“The program is meant to help the media become what it wants the society to become. The media must be able to walk the path that they are preaching and we want to help the media set the agenda. There is an imbalance in leadership,” she said.

She, however, added that the project was not meant to promote matriarchy but to sensitize the media on an imbalance in the different structures across newsrooms.

“This is not a women-take-over initiative; not a move from patriarchy to matriarchy but to address the imbalance in leadership in the media… (but) to address how the media write stories – political and social – to reflect society and shape the narrative,” she reiterated.

The highlight of the event was the presentation of awards to the participants, including PREMIUM TIMES’ judiciary correspondent, Evelyn Okakwu.

Meanwhile, Bunmi Yekinni, a reporter with Radio 1, emerged second runner-up in the programme. She was awarded a cash prize of N100,000. Juliana Francis, a crime reporter with New Telegraph newspapers emerged the runner-up and was awarded a cash prize of N150,000 while Olufunke Fayemi of Voice of Nigeria, VON, emerged the overall winner and was awarded a cash prize of N200,000. All of the three outstanding fellows were given a laptop computer each.

In her remarks, veteran broadcaster, Bimbo Oloyede, advised the fellows to remain outstanding journalists and role models to young females in their respective capacities.

Similarly, the resource persons who took the fellows through the three-month programme –– Lekan Otufodunrin, Online Editor at The Nation Newspapers; Nneka Okekearu of Pan-Atlantic University; and Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi ––also admonished the participants to maximize the opportunity offered them by the center through the training.

Wole Soyinka Center Winners

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