“If I asked you to marry me, would you consider taking my name?” I asked matter of factly. He looked at me for what seemed like eternity and replied “Vweta. When will I hear the last one of your crazy thoughts?”
The status quo namely: who proposes, who should take the others name, what last name should the children bear still holds as far as gender and its respective assigned roles are concerned as society has, either consciously or unconsciously tagged them to be roles reserved for a certain gender.
Reports of intimate patner abuse, sexual exploitation, harrasment or abuse, domestic violence where a male is the victim or survivor is almost non existent as though these are issues that affect; should affect women alone, on those rare occassions when they are reported, one almost reaches the conclusion that the reporters do not know how to present them in a manner that shows dignity for the person or lends seriousness to the issue.
For instance, a 2013 National Crime Victimization Survey, upon asking 40,000 households about rape and sexual violence, uncovered that 38 percent of incidents were against men. This realization is staggering because in the past men only made up about 5 to 14 percent of rape and sexual violence victims.
These and many other issues were the objectives of the just concluded two day workshop on “Gender and Social Inclusion Sensitive Reporting for Media Practitioners” organized by the Lagos State Gender Advocacy Team (LASGAT) and the State Accountability Voice Initiative (SAVI) - a DFID sponsored state project. The papers presented explored a variety of ways media reports could reflect and promote gender balance and equality especially when reporting on sensitive issues.
Dr Adebayo Adebukola while presenting his paper on “Gender and Social Inclusion Concept and its Importance in media reporting” demystified gender as a social construct and shared practice wisdom on how the gender assigned roles narrative can be changed to reflect equality.
While presenting the papers: “Mainstreaming Gender in Local Governance & Reporting and Communication & Listening Skills” Vivian Ifeoma Emasowun, a 2011 Voices of Our Future alumna and the Executive Director, Grassroot People & Gender Development drew attention to the need to adequately represent grassroots women and men in mainstream media, no matter how small their impact may seem as effective and people oriented governance and equal representation must begin in the grassroots. Her simple yet succinct slide presentation on ‘Communication & Listening Skills’ communicated simple yet effective ways and terminologies that best show respect and sensitivity for both gender and conveys the intended message from the sender to the encoder.
Closing the workshop, Barr. Titilope Akosa, Executive Director Center for 21st Century Issues and a World Pulse community member implored all to consider ways to apply the knowledge garnered from the workshop in everyday reporting In view of the “Equal opportunity bill” still waiting to be passed in the Lagos State house of assembly.
Other persons in attendance were Celine Osukwu, Executive Director, Divine Foundation for Disabled and 2012 Voices of Our Future alumna; Vicky Uremna Onyekum, Program Director Child Health Organization and World Pulse community member.