The Girls Inspired Development Network, GIDN, has trained Media Practitioners on the role of the media in amplifying women’s voices in migration.
Supported by ‘The Migrant Project’, the training was themed: ‘Strengthening Women’s Voices in Migration Decision Making.’
In her welcome remarks, the Executive Director of GIDN, Mrs. Rita Folawewo, explained that the purpose of the workshop was to strengthen the capacity of journalists to set the right agenda that would help in improving the documentation of women’s stories for justice and human rights.
She noted that the workshop will further empower media practitioners to produce gender-sensitive migration reporting.
Speaking on ‘The Role of the Media in Amplifying Women’s Migration Decision: A Panacea to Strengthen Women’s Agency’, Awareness raising Programme Officer, International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Mrs Cheptepkeny Cyprine, admonished the participants to uphold media ethics by promoting inclusive, balanced news coverage, and use of language that are devoid of stigma in reporting migration issues.
Mrs. Cyprine revealed that IOM and the Nigerian government are in partnership to assist 34,694 returned migrants from April 2017 till date, among which 19,579 were males while 15,115 were females.
She noted that Edo State used to record more irregular migrants than other states in Nigeria, but the narrative has changed as the northern states of Kano and Katsina seem to be taking over.
According to her, “28,204 survivors were reintegrated, among which 16, 264 were male, and 11,940 were female”. She also noted that, not all the returnees have been reintegrated because some of them had medical conditions when they came back to the country, and they needed to get medical attention first before they could be reintegrated.
She said the IOM only support the returnees in-kind such as vocational education, training, and business establishments to help empower them, as reintegration is the primary focus of IOM Nigeria’s assistance program for migrants who wish to reunite with their families.
According to her, the returnees were evacuated from different countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, Morocco, Mali, Ghana and Libya.
However, Cyprine called on journalists to create platforms for women migrants to share their stories.
Also speaking at the event, the Head, Migration Resource Centre, Mrs Maureen Ovie, who spoke on the topic, ‘Empowering Women: Catalysts for Inclusive Migration Policies’, said that the government has a critical role to play in increasing awareness of legal migration, counselling, and training to boost employability and gender-responsive environment.
She said the government will ensure fair recruitment practices and engage in monitoring of private recruitment agencies.
The Head of Migration (South West), National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), Mrs Ijeoma Ifeobu, said the Federal Government has been creating awareness aimed at reducing irregular migration.
For her part, a lawyer and migration counsellor, Mrs Enitan Ibironke, urged the media to creatively use digital tools and resources to create compelling content on various platforms to tell impactful stories that will aid women in making informed decisions on migration matters.
She advised media practitioners not to neglect the positive side of a migrant’s story and also not always focus on the negative issues because such stories could end up causing survivors more damage.
“When you report negative things about migrants, it dehumanises them and you are subjecting him or her to more mental torture. You need to know the psychology of the person, especially our women.
“Try to know why the person migrated because some of them were deceived that they would get good jobs abroad, but they ended up facing some challenges. We should change the narrative that women migrate for prostitution. That is not true, some of them travel with the good intention of assisting their families,” she stated.
“People who intend to travel should seek counsel from professionals while parents should not easily hand over their children, particularly a girl child, to anyone who promises to give them a job abroad. The girl child may end up being abused sexually,” Ibironke cautioned.
While speaking on the topic of ‘Empowering Survivors through Story Telling’, Founder, Female Returned Migrants Network, FREMNET Nigeria and a survivor, Ms. Chylian Ify Azuh, appreciated IOM for not abandoning her even after bringing her back and telling her story in a positive light.
“For all my achievements it was because there were people behind me, giving me ideas to move forward and telling my story in a positive light, and this motivated me to go back to school,” she added.
Ms. Chylian appealed to journalists to tell the story of migrants in a positive light as this will motivate them to move forward.