To Amman: Notes from Durban

By Jumana Ghunaimat

تم نشره في Tue 13 June / Jun 2017. 01:18 AM
  • Jumana Ghunaimat

The stories and testimonials of women in journalism, presented to us from around the globe, during the Women in News’ first summit, is South Africa, are invaluable.

So much we have learnt, and so many challenges face women in this particular industry, among others.

In Durban, South Africa, the Women in News Summit was held by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-EVRA), in conjunction with the 2017 World News Conference and the World Editors Forum.

Around 300 journalists and media experts from over 30 countries worldwide attended the Summit.

Notably, the challenges women in the news and media industry face in Africa vary from obstacles women have to overcome in Asia or Europe.

Naturally, the very environment, culture, society, and conditions vary.

However, wherever they came from, they all had one thing in common.

Every one of them is dedicated to do their part in society and stand up to violence and corruption.

A journalist, the chief of a media institution in the Philippines shed light on the challenges and risks of the job there.

She spoke, for instance, about how members of her team were abducted by Abu Sayyaf’s group, and all about how she got them back.

Participants from various parts of Africa spoke about sexual harassment, how to deal with it, and how the spread of this phenomenon impacts their jobs.

This is on top of the pandemic spread of crimes, like wildfire across the continent, which suffers conditions that are, to say the least, inhumane and uncivil.

The challenges are unfathomable and outstanding, but the success stories were even more so.

If anything, it only proves yet, that women could truly make a difference in their societies.

Entitled "Breaking Through: a celebration of stories”, the Summit focused on the stories which demonstrate women's ability to lead media institutions against all odds.

It highlighted all the outstanding achievements women have made in the face harshness in their quest to triumph for truth and society.

The Women in the News programme was first piloted in 2010, by 12 female journalists.

Seven years on, the organisation, the programme has grown to a multi-country, multi-region initiative that counts more than 80 media as partners, working with more than 200 individual journalists on board, so far.

The program focuses on a variety of topics, including the role of women in media creation, ethics, the challenges of journalism, and the bias for truth.

Notwithstanding, it also addressed the challenges faced by journalists in the US under Donald Trump’s administration.

It also shed light on the great suffering of many in Turkey, under Erdogan’s exclusive regime, from shutting media down to prosecution of journalists, and the despair it has caused.

On the sidelines of the Summit, one gets to learn about a new culture for faraway communities around the world.

The memory of Nelson Mandela and his sacrifices for his country are well remembered here; how he transformed his nation from one state to another.

For example, the Zulu culture of the tribes who beat the Britons, and how Zulu men are allowed unlimited marriages to women, with dowries still offered in cattle.

There too, under the presidential rule, reign many kings, one for every tribe.

It is as though there is a system living in the shadows of another system, forming an intricate network of comprehensive and sometimes competitive relations.

There too, is poverty; poverty like you’ve never seen before.

Wherever you go in South Africa, there is poverty and class-gap culminated through the ages, in a country where the average pay stands at USD150.

On another note, our trip from this part of Asia to that part of Africa took over 30 hours.

To us, the journalists from Jordan and Palestine, it is clear what the Qatari air closure has done to the mesh of air routes.

What was it like for the others who came from the farther parts of the world?

We ourselves have paid a price for Qatar’s sanctions, having done nothing wrong at all.

This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.