By: Laymah Kollie
Monrovia -September 6,2023-: The Female Journalists Association of Liberia (FEJAL) with support from Democracy International and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has held a one day advocacy engagement with the House of Representatives Committee on Post and Telecommunications on its Legislative oversight in holding media institutions accountable for providing fair and balanced coverage of women candidates in the October general elections.
The advocacy meeting is an activity of the Elections and Democracy Activity EDA which is implemented by Democracy International along with several national partners. It is aimed at increasing the leadership of marginalized groups in political processes, with a focus on women, youth, and other disadvantaged communities in Liberia, improving civic knowledge and sense of civic duty by supporting civic education, and advancing self-reliance of the National Elections Commission (NEC) and civil society organizations to independently manage and observe all stages of the electoral cycle.
Giving overview of the activity, Madam Eliza Dahn , Inclusive Leadership Program Officer of Democracy International stated that the project is intended to increase the leadership ability of marginalized groups in political processes with key focus on women, youth and other disadvantage communities.
She continues, that the meeting aims to lobby with the committee on Post and Telecommunications to hold individual media institutions accountable for providing fair and balanced media coverage of all candidates during and after the October 10 elections.
“This advocacy is under objective one of the EDA programs increasing the leadership of marginalized groups in political processes, with a focus on women, youth, and other disadvantaged communities in Liberia. This advocacy is led by the Female Journalists Association of Liberia, FeJAL. The purpose of this advocacy engagement meeting is to lobby with the committee on Post and Telecommunications to hold individual media institutions accountable for providing fair and balanced coverage of all candidates – women and men – during and after the October 10, 2023, General and Presidential Elections” Madam Eliza Dahn said.
Reading the statement on behalf of the group, Mozettor Zinnah of the Female Journalists Association of Liberia (FEJAL) stressed the misconduct of some media institutions in the country with a call to the Honorable House of Representatives particularly Post and Telecommunications Committee to take relevant action on these entity.
“Hon. Chairperson, we write to kindly ask you and your committee members to hold individual media institutions accountable for providing fair and balanced coverage of all candidates – women and men – during and after the October 10, 2023, General and Presidential Elections.
Specifically, we ask that you join your voice with the CSOs to encourage the media to provide fair and balanced coverage of women candidates during and after the October 10, 2023, General and Presidential Elections. We also request that those media institutions who do not provide balanced coverage are held accountable through your offices for their poor service to the Liberian public who you represent. If done, your active oversight will enable Liberians to make better-informed choices in the election and ensure women candidates can engage the media on a level playing field.”
Mozettor noted that the incident has not always been a positive portrayal of women and people with disabilities during and after elections.
“This has not always been possible in the past; the positive portrayal of women and People with Disabilities during and after the elections is an investment with proven, long-term returns for both this large group of citizens and our country Liberia.
The herein-mentioned organizations would be delighted to answer any questions you may have and await your response. We look forward to working with you on this advocacy issue as we gradually toward the elections”
However, receiving the communication on behalf of the Committee, Hon. Moima Briggs Mensah, Co-chair on Post and Telecommunications urged CSOs, fejal and partners to gradually provide an evidence based communication; adding, that the lawmakers oversight responsibility can not be done by assumption.
“Our oversight function is not done by assumption but evidence. As a Committee , We will reach out to the press union also adding up our voice to what you have said. The timing is very important in these processes, because if you have everyone present they will give their commitment”.
Madam Briggs cautioned media practitioners to desist from reporting fake news. The Bong County lawmaker then admonished CSOs and right based organizations to creating more awareness to the local majority.
“In time like this we don’t want the media to assume because assumption will bring problem . It has to be done with awareness, you have to take it with media institutions, reach out to the people themselves and tell them what the media is doing wrong . The committee will do her oversight to reach press union and these media entities do more awareness, reach out to Communities “
Meanwhile , organizations that presented the communication were Women NGO Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL), Liberia Initiative for the Promotion of Rights, Identity, Diversity, and Equality (LIPRIDE), Women for Positive Change, Sisters for Sisters (Liberia), Positive Change Women and Girls Initiative (POCHAWOIN), Alliance For Women & Children, Youth Education & Humanity, National Union of Organizations of the Disabled, and NUOD.
Female Journalists Association of Liberia is a rights advocacy group for women journalists in Liberia.
Democracy International is a US–based organization working globally to support active citizens, responsive governments, and engaged civil society and political organizations to achieve a more peaceful democratic world. By developing and using new knowledge, tools, and approaches, Democracy International works to transform the lives of people and communities across four key practice areas: Politics, Governance, Peace and resilience, and Learning.