By Colette Davidson
WAN-IFRA has expanded its successful WIN program to work with Somali media women. The first gathering took place in Nairobi, Kenya in mid-September.
From September 13-15, the inaugural program saw 10 participants from across Somali regions meet for three days of workshops, one-on-one coaching sessions and plenty of time to discuss the media challenges facing women journalists in Somalia.
Paula Fray, WIN’s Lead Trainer, Christine Nguku, coach and trainer for WIN Central-East Africa, and Tikhala Chibwana, project director of WIN Africa East, joined the women in Nairobi, Kenya, for what participant Nasrin Mohamed Ibrahim says is a necessary program.
“I was so glad to participate in this program,” says Ibrahim, head of production at a private radio station in Mogadishu. “Somali women in journalism face many problems from the government, society and opposition groups… we hope to get a lot of benefit from this training.”
The three-day session began by Nguku leading introductions before working with the women on the various communication styles used in the media profession today.
“The WIN Somali programme presents a unique chance for all of you to identify opportunities where you can develop your management skills,” Nguku told participants. “We believe women can do a good job and we know you can do it.”
On day two, the participants gave presentations on what it was like to be a woman journalist in Somalia today. Fray then led a workshop on media trends around the world, and how it has impacted sourcing of news and storytelling.
“The idea is that we’re helping them build capacity to work at a local level,” says Chibwana. “But, we live in a global village so they need to be aware of the media trends elsewhere and how it may impact their own market.”
The group rounded out the second day with one-on-one sessions with a coach to discuss specific challenges and gain confidence to tackle any on-the-job issues. On the final day, the group discussed negotiation skills and how to deal with management. WIN success story Faith Oneya, Web Producer for Kenya’s Daily Nation, made a surprise visit to encourage the women to soldier on even when faced with work challenges.
“It’s good for the participants to interact with someone who has benefited from the program, so they can see that it’s transformational,” says Chibwana. “It’s almost more helpful than us telling them that this is a nice program, and it helps them raise the bar.”
While Chibwana says the situation for Somali women journalists is not necessarily different from those in other African countries – in terms of how women are not well-represented in the media – the current conflict in the country compounds the challenges they face and makes it unique. Many of the participants had had limited exposure to capacity building and training prior to the event, and using English was not always easy.
But translators were on hand to help with any problems, and trainers say the participants were excited throughout the three-day session. Ibrahim says she will take back a wealth of information from the program, which she intends to share with her colleagues back home.
"We hope to get a lot of benefits from this training. As Somali women, we face many problems, specifically from our bosses and managers, so this training is very important for us,” she says. "I hope to return with many benefits and to help my female colleagues – as well as the male colleagues – learn what I have learned."
The WIN Somalia programme is a collaboration between WAN-IFRA, IMS and Fojo Media Institute, and will run through January 2017. It will link up with the WIN Central-East Africa programme on peer-to-peer mentoring and job shadowing activities.
Click here for the Somali programme Facebook page.