CEMESP Trains Female Journalists on Women Digital Rights and Online Abuses

By: Wremeongar Joe*

Mr. Malcolm Joseph

The Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding (CEMESP) and partners have held a one-day specialized training workshop on  women’s  Digital rights and online  Abuses  in Monrovia.

With support from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands- through The Media Foundation for West Africa, and in partnership with the Female journalists Association of Liberia, CEMESP training brought together 40 women journalists and bloggers who operate various platforms in Liberia.

The training is part of a project aimed at increasing public awareness and respect for online rights, particularly women’s rights online.

Mrs. Siata Scott

Malcolm Joseph, the Executive Director for the Center for Media studies and Peacebuilding in his opening remarks said, Liberia’s online ecosystem continues to expand, offering the potential for the democratic and overall development of the country.

He said despite this, there is, however, a wide gender gap in terms of access, affordability, and utilization of digital platforms in the country.

The training which was held on Wednesday, March 17, 2021, at iCampus  upper Carey Street in Monrovia addressed various topics including Introduction to Digital Rights, Mapping Women’s Rights Online, Digital Storytelling & Women’s Rights Online Advocacy in Liberia and Introduction to Social Media & Online Privacy.

It also sought to address the problem of Identifying and Dealing with Online Abuses against Women in Liberia.

Ms. Maureen Sieh

According to CEMESP, the workshop was also designed “to train the participants on the effective ways of promoting women’s rights online in Liberia and further fashion ways of how journalists and bloggers  can collaborate and contribute to Women’s Rights Online advocacy to increase public awareness and respect for online rights to help ensure that an enabling internet environment is created for women to access and use the Internet and benefit from its potential”.

Press Union of Liberia President Charles Cuffey attended the formal opening of the event and remarked that many women and girls in Liberia lack a basic understanding of what it means to be online.

“Many of our women, girls, and even journalists have experienced online abuses without knowing that they have been abused”, Cuffey remarked.

The President of the Press Union of Liberia emphasized the need to teach Liberian journalists content creation online.

Cyber Security practitioner Lauren Kolleh lectured the participants on social media usage before Media Development & Women Rights Specialist–Madam Maureen Sieh made two separate, interactive presentations on digital rights and identifying and dealing with online abuses.

Also making a presentation at the training was Local Voices Liberia Executive Director Alpha Senkpeni who delivered on Digital Story Telling.

In his presentation, Senkpeni admonished the journalists and bloggers to be creative and use online storytelling as a key way of effective journalism in the 21st century.

Many of the female journalists at the event shared experiences of various forms of online abuse and inquired about the best possible ways of raising alarm, reporting, and documenting abuse of women and girls on-and-off cyberspace.

They thanked CEMESP and its international partners for organizing and the training and committed to forming a small working group that could begin the process of documenting online rights abuses.

The coordinator of the Female Journalists Association who also attended Wednesday’s training remarked that she was happy to see women get firsthand knowledge about “their online rights”.

Mrs. Siatta Scott Johnson said she will be working with women journalists and bloggers in Liberia to begin to document and follow up on women’s online rights violations.

Despite signing onto several international rights protocols, Liberia is among several countries in Africa that is yet to enact a digital rights law.

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