In Mali, a country that ranks 158 out of 162 countries on the Gender Equality Index, Internews trained women in storytelling skills, including fact-checking, and gender and conflict-sensitive reporting. Women’s voices are underrepresented in Malian media leadership and ownership, and women journalists have had less opportunity to develop journalism skills. To address this gap, Internews with support from the American people, trained 16 women journalists in Mali to become trainers and content producers for women.
The journalists were from various media outlets representing radio, TV, print and online media and bloggers from across the country. For the first time in their careers, many of the journalists tackled the subject of fake news, fact checking, gender and conflict-sensitive journalism, radio production techniques, coverage of electoral processes and political activities, and prevention of radicalization and violent extremism.
Many of the participants quickly put their new skills into practice. Just a week after the training was completed, protestors had taken to the streets unhappy with the Government’s handling of Mali's long-running conflict, an economic crisis, and disputed elections. Maimouna Sidibé from Radio Rampart coordinated a radio talk show with both pro and anti-government political and civil society groups to discuss the political crisis and exit strategies. Hamidou Doumbia, the influential leader of an emerging political party, YELEMA, called in to the talk show to share his perspectives on the political crisis in Mali. Other callers included members of civil society organizations and ordinary citizens. Think Peace, a local NGO Internews had invited to the training, works to improve peace and governance in the country through youth engagement. They immediately contracted with six of the trainers to train their staff in various regions of Mali on video production techniques using smart phones.
“Many people claim they are journalists, but unfortunately, they do not have the skills. It helped us to not only sharpen our skills, but also to get prepared to share the new skills received with others for the benefit of our viewers, listeners, and readers’’, stressed Mossokoro Sérémé, a participant from the regional Office of Mali’s national television station in Sikasso, southern Mali.
The women were inspired by the training to start producing stories in their regions, and to embrace new careers in the media sector. Bintou Coulibaly, who writes for Notrenation.com, an online publication, plans to try radio. Each of the women came up with a peer-to-peer training action plan that they are rolling out in their local communities with support and mentorship from Internews.
Internews’ media development activities are part of the Empowering Malians through Election, Reform and Governance Efforts Program (EMERGE) funded in Mali by USAID and the Swiss Development Cooperation. This five-year program aims at advancing peace, reconciliation and more accountable governance through credible and inclusive national elections in Mali.