MONROVIA – The Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding (CEMESP) on Tuesday, September 7, 2021, conducted intensive training for female bloggers and journalists on ‘Women’s Rights Online Issues’ in Liberia. Forty-five (45) participants drawn from various social media blogs, civil society activists, and university journalism students formed part of the training which was held at iCampus on Carey Street in Central Monrovia.
The training sought to address what is seen as a wide gender gap in terms of access, affordability, and utilization of digital platforms in Liberia as more people continue to move online in Liberia.
CEMESP’s Executive Malcolm Joseph remarked that his organization held the training in collaboration with the Ghana-based Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), with support from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Accra, Ghana.
He said the training which is implemented in Ghana, Liberia, and Sierra Leone seeks to increase public awareness and respect for online rights, particularly women’s rights online rights as well as improve the digital literacy of least 200 women (female journalists, women’s rights activists, among others) to advocate for women’s rights online in the three West African countries.
“As a first step for the intervention in Liberia, a database of female journalists, bloggers, and activists in Liberia has been built,” Mr. Joseph said adding that a one-day training workshop on women’s rights online issues was earlier held in Liberia to train 40 female journalists, bloggers, and activists.
The CEMESP Executive Director thanked MFWA and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Ghana for financing the project which he described as key in advancing democracy and rights of women in an era of internet and social media advancement.
An official of the Media Foundation for West Africa who attended the training said he was glad to see young women learn how to basically guard against online abuses and help other women remain engaged with online activities.
According to Kawku Krobea Asante, the implementation of this project spans from the fact that available data has shown that there are more women than men in most African Countries but that conversely, more African men are seen online than women.
Mr. Asante hoped that the project will address such online gender disparity and bring to the fold, more women who can use the internet to engage in content creation, fully aware of their rights and responsibilities.
Lauren Kolleh- a cyber-security practitioner, Alpha Senkpeni- the Executive Director of Local Voices Media Group, Journalists Bettie Johnson Mbayo, and women rights activist Facia Harris were the presenters for each of the sessions.
Participants at Tuesday’s training were introduced to Digital Rights, Social Media and Online Privacy, Identifying and Dealing with Online Abuses against Women, Digital Storytelling, and Digital Content Creation.
The workshop also trained the participants on the effective ways of promoting women’s rights online in Liberia and fashioned ways by which the participants can collaborate and contribute to Women’s Rights Online advocacy to increase public awareness and respect for online rights to help ensure that an enabling internet environment is created for women to access and use the Internet and benefit from its potential.
The Vice President of the Press Union of Liberia- Daniel Nyankona speaking at the training acknowledged the minimum participation of women in online activities as well as the absence of women in leadership roles in newsrooms across the country.
He stressed that women must take up the challenge to lead in the Liberian media by effectively using the knowledge acquired from such training in the discharge of their duties.
“Women will be able to influence the online ecosystem when they are effectively knowledgeable about the events and the terrain in which they operate. Training like this provides that knowledge,” Nyakona added.
At the end of the training CEMESP setup a WhatsApp group which will serve as a platform to enable the participants to continuously engage and also support each other in times of promoting women’s rights online and countering violation of women’s rights online.