By: Taoheed Mohammed — African Women in Media (AWiM) hosted a webinar, yesterday, as part of the activities to commemorate this year’s World Environment Day and raise awareness on environmental challenges and opportunities.
Themed, “The Role of African Women in Promoting Eco-system and Biodiversity”, the webinar also provided insights on how African women journalists are contributing to the environment conversations.
The webinar featured a panel session where panelists, who had received support from AWiM to report environment stories, discussed the challenges and opportunities of addressing environmental issues.
They emphasised the need for more voices of experts in environment reporting while, stressing that there are a lot of underreported and unreported stories about the environment.
One of the panelists, Aidah Munzatsi, a health journalist from Kenya, said, “We should ask questions about how sustainable some of the environmental solutions are. We need to hold stakeholders accountable to these solutions.
“Let’s use more data in our stories to really highlight how important environmental issues are and how they link with mental health issues,” she added.
On the part of Tina S. Mehnpaine, an environment reporter from Liberia, “What we can do to inspire action is to have empathy. How environmental stories are human rights stories. We need to have empathy.
“There are a lot of inspirational stories of how people are tackling plastic waste in their communities in Africa. We need to tell these stories. We need to share their impact.
“The people that read my story realised there was a company recycling plastic to make new products that are useful. It is important we continue to raise awareness on the importance of adequate waste management,” she added.
According to Teneal Koorts, an agriculture and environmental journalist from Namibia, “We need to do more to highlight the impact of climate change on people in informal settlements. Their stories need to be told more widely.
“People should hear how you can empower women to create change and to empower themselves as we deal with climate change and other key environmental issues.”
For Kiven Brenda, a journalist from Cameroon, “We need to talk more about the impact of plastic on our society. What are the statistics and what solutions can we urgently put in place? We need action now.”
Speaking, Mohamed Atani, Head of Communications, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Africa office, noted that the World Environment Day celebrated every June 5 is an avenue to address environmental challenges and possible solutions.
His words: “It is an opportunity to bring environment challenges and opportunities to the surface so people can discuss and proffer solutions to the many challenges of the environment.”
Atani disclosed further that environment stories must inspire and inform the audience to influence sustainable actions.
He added that, “We must work together in partnership to raise awareness on environment sustainability. We need to continue to speak with all stakeholders to take action. We need to inform and inspire for action.”
Earlier in her welcome address, Dr. Yemisi Akinbobola, the CEO and Co-founder of AWiM, lauded the United Nations Environment Protection (UNEP) for its contribution to creating an environment-friendly world.
According to her, what AWiM has achieved in the last few months is a pointer to sustainable journalism.
Reeling out some of the achievements of AWiM, she said the organisation is devoted to the economic empowerment of women journalists.
“Each month, we commission ten women journalists to write gendered and solutions angles on environmental issues. We help them develop their stories.
“The essence is to emphasise the crucial role of journalism in reporting gendered angle of environmental stories. We have realised that the media is very much an active and willing partner in addressing environmental issues,” she said.
I-79 Media reports that AWiM is an international non-governmental organisation aiming to impact positively the way the media functions in relation to African women.
As part of the efforts to develop gendered stories about the environment, AWiM, in partnership with UNEP Africa Environment Journalism Programme, supports women journalists in Africa through workshops and funding to write environment stories.
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