As the global community observes this year’s edition of International Women’s Day, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) wishes to use the occasion to highlight the continuing plight of women journalists in Somalia and Somali women in general.
“Despite recent progress, women journalists in our midst continue to suffer discrimination at work and sexual harassment as well as gender-based violence in their workplaces and homes. While the number of women journalists in the newsroom has been increasing, it is disappointing to note that in a majority of cases, they earn less pay than their male counterparts for the same output and many media houses don’t have a gender policy that speaks to the unique needs of women” said Nima Hassan Abdi, NUSOJ’s Organizing Secretary.
This year’s theme, “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality” highlights the immense potential for women participation in shaping public opinion through their work in the media. But women journalists in Somalia face many hazards on the digital highway, not least online harassment, bullying and stalking.
Women participation in the media is critical to giving a voice to women and bringing a female perspective to the public debate on key issues affecting society. Digitalization can advance this cause by supporting the development of independent media platforms owned or controlled by women.
“On the occasion of International Women’s Day, as a woman journalist and a union leader, I celebrate and congratulate fellow female compatriots in the world of journalism. We are awake to the many challenges female journalists and other women media workers continue to face in the workplace and in the field. But we are also excited by this year’s theme, because of digital technology’s potential to create a more open, transparent and equal workplace for all cadres and genders of media professionals,” stressed Nima Hassan Abdi.
“But the digital space is fraught with many risks specific to women and more especially to women journalists. The federal government and federal parliament have a lot of work to do to create laws and put mechanisms in place that sanitize it and make it safe for women journalists,” Nima added.
NUSOJ has been proactive in addressing the challenges women face in the media and at the workplace through advocacy and training. In the past year, we have held several activities aimed at empowering women journalists, and creating across the board understanding of their role and rights in the public sphere. Our advocacy programs targeting the workplace and society in general, have focused on tackling gender stereotypes and negative cultural practices which drive gender-based violence.
“As we celebrate the achievements in advancing women’s rights, we call on the government of Somalia to strengthen the protection of women through rule of law. Lets’ also look at the challenges ahead and how we can leverage the advances in technology to make the world a better place for women,” Nima declared.