Experts across Media organizations, associations, academia, and regulator have advocated for deliberate inclusion and mainstreaming of issues regarding women, Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), and youths in the electoral process.
The experts made the recommendation during a Conversation by Media Industry Groups on Inclusion in the Electoral and Political Process organized by the Institute of Media and Society (IMS).
The event is a part of the Support to Media Component of the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN).
Dr. Akin Akingbulu, Executive Director, IMS explained that exclusion of marginalized groups in the electoral process is one of the most important issues that need to be urgently addressed.
He explained that IMS with support from the EU has been working to strengthen the media to provide fair, accurate, and ethical coverage of the electoral process in Nigeria.
Dr. Akingbulu added that”our objective is to ensure that the media enhances fair and credible elections through its reportage and enhances the capacity of media regulators to enable it to perform its role better.”
He thereafter noted that the dialogue has been set up to “Generate ideas for improved inclusion of marginalized groups by the media and develop commitments for implementation by industry actors.”
Speaking at the event, Mufiliat Fijabi, Executive Director, Nigerian Women Trust Fund, explained that the media has a lot to do, to address the challenges of the non-inclusive reportage of women in the electoral process, either as voters or candidates.
Fijabi emphasized that”the best way to go in the Nigerian governance system is to ensure deliberate inclusion of women, as stakeholders, with the media playing a substantial role in the process.
Mr Jake Epelle, Executive Director, The Albino Foundation, who shared insights on the challenges experienced by Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in the electoral process, urged the media to continually “raise awareness on the challenges facing PWDs and issues surrounding disability, and factors that contribute to the problem and that can lead to stigmatization of PWDs.”
Mr Epelle wants the media to “bring discussion of disability into the public arena to challenge the idea of it as a taboo subject; call for better resources to address the exclusion of PWDs from general social, economic and political life and overcome lack of access to most areas of development, including health, education, food, shelter, employment and land.
“Promote policies, products, services, and environments that support the full participation and development of all people, including PWDs.”
Participants at the media industry group dialogue identified culture, religion and internal party structure as some of the challenges limiting Youth, women and PWDs access to electoral and PoliticalProcess.
They also recommended that the media has to be intentional, deliberate and creative to address issues affecting the people.
Other speakers and facilitators at the event were; Prof Ayo Oyebode; Prof Ifeoma Dunu, Mr Lekan Sote and Ms Anike-ade Funke Treasure.