Media stakeholders, Practitioners as well as Right Advocates have been implored to integrate a conflict-sensitive “do no harm” approach that is professional and ethical as this would go a long way in curbing the promotion of Hate speeches and propaganda online, consequently boosting women engagement in Nation building.
This call was made recently at a roundtable discussion organized by the West Africa Network for Peace Building [WANEP] in collaboration with the International Press Centre [IPC], Humanity Family Foundation for Peace and Development [HUFFPED] with the support of Peace Tech Lab under the Combating Hate Speech Online Project.
The discussion which centered around; “the role of the media in Combating Gender-Related Hate Speech Online Through Objective and Conflict Sensitive Reporting” was aimed at; changing public perception and stereotypes about women positioning and functioning in society, mitigating hate speech that hinders women participation in politics, engaging media stakeholders and users of social media platforms on the use of technology tools to report hate speech online and deepening the role of the media (Online journalists/ bloggers) in combating hate speech online through objective and conflict sensitive reporting.
Speaking at the event, the Head of Programs, WANEP, Ms. Patience Obaulo, expressed her concerns as far as women participation in Public is concerned, saying that women have been relegated to the background in the political space despite the tremendous effort put forward by Civil Society Organizations and other relevant stakeholders to call for more inclusive representation of women both in elective and appointive positions.
In view of this, Obaulo charged women to be actively involved in political leadership in Nigeria understanding that it is a very part of the economic growth and development.
“Politically, women have been relegated to the background, despite the tremendous effort put forward by Civil Society Organizations and other relevant stakeholders following the declaration of the National Gender policy (NGP) 2006 recommendation of 35% affirmative action for a more inclusive representation of women both in elective and appointive positions,” Obaulo noted.
The Executive Director (Programs), HUFFPED, Henry Adenigba was ably represented by Mrs Omolade Itunu.
While reading his speech, she mentioned that when unchecked, hate speech can lead to disaster as it promotes prejudice and hate, which in time can undermine the roots of society, create a divide between societal groups and eventually lead to deep divides in the social cohesion.
In a bid to prevent all of these from happening, Adenigba also charged media organization to strengthen self-regulatory mechanisms and codes of conduct that would condemn and combat sexist hate-speech and ensure more effective moderation of social media.
This, according to Adenigba should include; the setting of clear standards for the industry and putting in place mechanisms to monitor progress, ensure the integration of a gender equality perspective in all aspects of education and media policies, promote gender equality, promote civil society initiatives in this area and most importantly join the No Hate Speech Movement.
Speaking on the role of the Media in Combating Hate Speech, Editor, The Nation Newspaper Online, Mr Lekan Otufodunrin charged journalists and content creators to refrain from publishing inaccurate and misleading information, support campaign against gender-hate speech and act on gender hate speech complaints.
While defining what Hate Speeches are, Otufodunrin explained that Hate speech is any speech that is laced with intentions of hatred, with a view to hurting, disparaging, bringing down, exposing to risk or danger, any person or group of persons. All of these acts are Hate Speeches and they Hurt.
On the role of the media professional in curbing Hate speeches, Otufodunrin charged all to make their spaces friendlier for women to participate and be well represented as far as Political offices are concerned.
“While it remains unclear from the data whether election-related violence disproportionately impacted women, observers surveyed believed that gender-based hate speech in North East and South East discouraged women from participating in the electoral process as candidates,” Otufodunrin said.
The Editor Health StylePlus Online, Mrs Yinka Shokunbi also spoke on reporting about women from a gender-based lens [Addressing the stereotypes and merging trends].
Shokunbi identified funds as a major impediment to the participation of women in active politics, thus, she advised the female folks to tap into numerous opportunities available to them.
Shokunbi highlighted the importance of mentorship in building women for political positions and urged women who are already in decision making positions to encourage the upcoming political players.
She also added that the principles should be instilled in children so they can grow up to develop an interest in political positions.
Shokunbi rounded off by charging all women to get the appropriate Education that would boost their Political involvement as well as their confidence in the Political space.