Media professionals and stakeholders across West Africa has resolved to create a regional framework that would serve as a minimum acceptable standard in reportage of women and women-related issues in the media.
This was part of the recommendations at the just concluded Saly Declaration of Gender in Media, where resolutions and recommendations were developed for various actors across the sub-region towards improving the coverage of women in the media.
According to the participants, the framework would help in addressing the gender gap in the media space in West Africa.
The declaration, which was developed by key stakeholders which comprise of Ministries of Communication, National Regulatory bodies, Media houses, Women Rights Organizations, Civil Society Organizations and Media Professional Organizations, would also seek to promote balanced, fair and equitable coverage of women in the media.
The declaration recommended that “governments across the region must respect the independence and autonomy of regulators and media organizations and take into account gender equality in policies relating to the media and in the allocation of resources.”
It was recommended that National regulatory bodies encourage decentralization of operations across the country to increase accessibility and ensure systemic monitoring of gender content with a valid and verifiable methodology.”
Also, umbrella organizations were urged to “enhance the capacity of all journalists to improve gender-sensitive reporting, encourage women to assume leadership positions in their organizations and put in place mechanisms to reward and incentivize gender-sensitive media organizations.”
The Media organizations and journalists in the region are expected to create a conducive atmosphere for women to attain leadership positions in the media industry and also “mentor qualified women to assume leadership positions in the newsrooms and encourage women to cover vital beats.”
Generally, it was suggested that the ECOWAS should establish a regional mechanism for regular reporting by member states on the implementation of commitments to ensure gender equality in media organizations and content and also facilitate the design and adoption of common regional guidelines on the monitoring of online content.