‘Women Journalists in NIGERIA Facing Descrimination’-Janet Mba Afolabi, CNN Journalist of the Year Award Winner, Publisher of Scroll Report
*Nigerian Women Deserve chance to Prove themselves
* ‘I am a Glowing Media Amazon due to my Determination to Succeed’
* ‘I was the FIRST and only FEMALE Chairman of Nigerian Union of Journalist’
* ‘I Host HARD TALK on WFM 91.7 Nigeria’s First and only Radio Station for Women and their Families’
* ‘National Orientation Agency should Wake up, Starts serious Campaigns to Enlighten Girls in different Communities and schools about the Dangers of Prostitution’
*PLUS her Empowerment Program and Girl-child Projects
SHE’S A FOREMOST Nigerian Journalist. A core investigative Investigative media professional who strongly hold firm the true essence of excellence in Journalism. She’s been a crack reporter from her yore days in the era of Newswatch magazine in the famous era of late Dele Giwa, Ray Ekpu and other noble media personnel some decades ago. Her name is JANET MBA AFOLABI, a cerebral, forthright, highly respected journalist who is fearless in her reportage and walk boldly in search of stories where so many other journalists will be scared to tread upon. In this rare interactive session, this publisher of Scroll Report, an online news medium platform, host of the much talked-about Hard Talk bares her mind on: ‘Challenges facing Women Journalists in Nigeria, Appraisal of Women Participation in Nigerian Politics, How she won Cables News Network (CNN Award), First price in Health category of the Diamond Award for Media Excellence (DAME), Experience in hosting HARD TALK on first all Women Nigerian Radio, Empowerment Program for Women and Girl-Child Education Project. GEORGE ELIJAH OTUMU, FOREIGN BUREAU CHIEF, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA reports:
Q:How will you describe the quality of Journalism being practiced by women in Nigeria?
The quality of journalism being practiced by women in Nigeria is just above average. Women in journalism need to do more, they should not be laid back and should begin to challenge themselves, after all the profession sees women as men, which is why we are addressed as “gentlemen of the press”.
Q:Will you say women have attained recognizable position in Nigerian media or are being relegated by men in the media world?
I would not say that generally women have attained recognized position in Nigerian Media because not many women are holding management positions both in the government and privately owned Media houses. However it is better than what it was in the past, today we have women editors and women managing directors in media houses but the number is very few compared to that of men.
Q:Are there discrimination in Nigeria against women journalists?
In some media houses, there are discrimination against women journalist, in some organizations , the level of discrimination is very low. But many female journalists complain of discrimination especially when it comes to assigning roles and assignment.
Q:What are the challenges facing women in Nigerian journalism?
The challenging facing some women in Nigeria is that many of them are not given the opportunity to prove or express themselves.
Q:For decades, you have been glowing in Nigerian journalism as a media Amazon blazing the trail, even where most men dares tread. What are the Secrets?
The major secret is God, who has given me the grace. The physical reason is the determination to succeed. I began my journalism career in Newswatch magazine when it was a place to be. It was an environment where excuses were not tolerated. Like one of the editors always said, “ we are not going to publish excuses oh” so fear of coming to the new room with excuses pushed me to achieve result, as I grew in the profession the determination to achieve result against all odds grew in me.
Q:What were some of the highest point of your journalism career?
One of the highest points of my career was when I became the first and only female chairman of Nigerian Union of Journalist, Newswatch chapter. Another was when I co- founded Insider Magazine with other male editors; it was the first time that a woman co- founded a news magazine in Nigeria.
Q:Can you briefly mention some of the media awards you have won in Nigeria and across the world?
The highest point of my journalism career was when I won first prize in General New Category of CNN African journalist Award in 1999. Three months before then, I won the first price in health category of the Diamond Award for Media Excellence (DAME).
Q:If you have not been a journalist, what other profession will you have chosen?
If I were not a journalist, I would have chosen politics, law or Nursing.
Q:Do you have any Empowerment program for women or Girl-child project?
Yes, I have an empowerment program for women. I also have a girl- child project. The girl – child project is basically a scholarship scheme to educate the girl- child. I am also the founder of the Media Women Forum. The girl- child and women are what we are focusing on.
Q:What were the toughest moment of your media career?
The toughest moment of my media career was when I was nursing my children. I was stagnated and slowed down many of my male colleagues moved faster in the promotion ladder, because they parenting was not a challenge to them like me.
Q:Tell us about the historic and first women radio in Nigeria where you host Hard Talk?
Women FM popularly known as WFM 91.7 is Nigeria’s First and only Radio Station for Women and their families. It started nearly one and a half year ago and the vision is to use radio as a tool to develop women. Their Managing director is a woman; her name is Toun Okewale a seasoned broadcaster.
Q:Will you say Nigeria President Mohammadu Buhari has given ample opportunities to women in his cabinet’s appointment?
The women in President Mohammed Buhari’s cabinet are not as many as the previous regime. However, appointments are still ongoing perhaps by the time appointments are concluded we will have a better picture.
Q:How do you think Nigeria can be further be rebranded positively in the eyes of comity of nations?
Nigerians and Nigeria can be further rebranded positively in the eyes of other nations, if we focus on the good people of Nigeria and the good things coming out of Nigeria. If our leaders stop engaging in self humiliating actions.
Q:Finally, how can Buhari’s administration through the National Orientation Agency educate the people especially the Girl-child in in a bid to stop the rising tide of prostitution on-going in various secondary schools and higher institution of learning in the country?
One of the major responsibilities of National Orientation Agency is to inform, educate, and enlighten Nigerians. I expect the agency to start serious campaigns to enlighten girls in different communities and schools about the dangers of prostitution. They should take the campaign to urban and rural areas were parents are ignorant of the dangers of allowing their girls to follow child – traffickers who pretend to be helpers.