Statement by Media practitioners at the Open Session of the African Union Peace and Secuiry Council on “Role of the media in enhancing accountability on women, peace and security commitments in Africa”
Date: Monday, November 7, 2016
Madam Chair, Members of the Council, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;
We, media practioners from different parts of Africa, including Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Tunisia, and Uganda, representing the breadth of media, including private and public local radio, print, broadcast, and new media, gathered on the 18th to 19th October 2016 in Addis Ababa;
Under the auspices of the Office of the Special Envoy on Women Peace and Security of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) in partnership with UN Women, we convened to discuss Gender-Responsive Reporting in Conflict, Post-Conflict, and Fragile Settings.
We recognize the continued commitment of the AU to mainstream gender into all the work of the PSC, to ‘Silence the Guns’ by 2020, and the aspirations embedded in Agenda 2063;
Note the designation of 2016 as the “Year of Human Rights, with a Particular Focus on the Rights of Women”;
Appreciate the opportunity to address the African Union Peace and Security Council on issues of peace in general and the ‘Role of the media in enhancing accountability on women, peace and security commitments in Africa’ in particular;
Stress the importance of an enabling environment for the media to play a positive role as agents of peace;
Note increasing pressure on freedom of expression and censorship efforts in many contexts-including on social media, and the need for access to information;
Express concern about the safety and security of media personnel across the continent, particularly that of women journalists.
Over the course of the two-day convening, we identified and discussed critical challenges facing gender-responsive media on the continent. These include the underrepresentation of affected women’s voices, expertise, and women covering issues of peace and security; the continued stigmatization of women and stereotypical portrayal of women in conflict reporting; lack of women in leadership and editorial decision-making positions within media organizations; and ethical considerations that come with reporting of conflict and engaging with survivors of violence;
We recognize that the media has a critical role to play in pushing a progressive agenda on women, peace, and security by engaging in gender aware coverage of peace and security issues;
Understand the need to formulate new narratives when telling African stories on women peace and security by documenting the diversity of women’s stories, telling not just stories of victimhood but also stories of leadership, peacebuilding, and positive agents for social change;
Commit to adhering to ethical principles, such as do no harm and prevention of secondary victimization of women who have already suffered, and actively seeking the voices of those who are not normally heard;
Also commit to working through this nascent network of reporters for women, peace, and security to promote gender responsive reporting; to push for justice, and broader accountability for women, peace, and security commitments; and raise awareness and sensitize citizens through our reporting.
We call on the Council to ensure that Member States protect the safety of journalists;
We encourage the Council to maintain dialogue with the media, during their field missions as well as broader issue based engagement;
We call also on the Council to and the media in their oversight role in ensuring women’s greater participation during mediation processes, conflict prevention efforts, and post conflict reconstruction and recovery as well as their protection and the prevention of sexual and gender based violence.
We thank you.