About the fellowship
West Africa has a long history of gender-based violence which has been exacerbated by a culture of impunity and lack of women in positions of influence and authority.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated the problem, leading to an increase in occurrences of domestic and sexual violence. Women in the region are currently dealing with "two pandemics" while simultaneously caring for their families.
Over the last two decades, West Africa has seen rapid democratization and significant economic progress. The abundance of natural resources and economic advances, on the other hand, do not benefit poor and rural communities.
High rates of GBV, aggravated by rising poverty, constrain and limit West African women's economic and social engagement. Despite the fact that women make up about half of West Africa's population, they are disproportionately underrepresented in elected positions, and their voices are routinely repressed and excluded from decision-making.
To eradicate gender-based violence and discrimination, a deeper and larger cultural, societal, and political commitment is required. Women's underrepresentation in public spaces, along with their continued objectification in the media, undermines efforts to confront a deeply entrenched and detrimental culture of discrimination. The media, as "culture gatekeepers," play an important and crucial part in rewriting this long-term wrong.
With the support of the Ford Foundation Office of West Africa, the Africa Women Journalism Project (AWJP) and the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) have launched the West African GBV Reporting Fellowship, which builds on the AWJP's goal of amplifying the voices of minority groups and highlighting under-explored issues affecting women and other marginalized groups.
During the 18-month fellowship program, the AWJP will work with women journalists from three West African countries: Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal. The programme will be implemented in three stages:
- Phase One: 60 journalists will attend information and learning workshops before receiving microgrants to create in-depth narrative reports.
- Phase Two: A nine-month training and mentoring program for 12 journalists (3 from each country). The AWJP team will provide the Fellows with editorial, data, and technical assistance, as well as microgrants to assist them in the production of evidence-based stories aimed at shifting the GBV narrative in their respective countries.
- Phase Three: Peer-to-peer training. Fellows will be able to share what they have learned with their newsrooms, which will be assisted in establishing the structures needed to continue reporting on GBV after the Fellowship ends.