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GPU Collaborates with Partners to Train Media Managers and Editors on Sexual Harassment Prevention

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Group photo of participants

By Ramatoulie Jawo 

The Gambia Press Union (GPU), in collaboration with the European Union and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, initiated a two-day workshop on Monday aimed at equipping media managers and editors with strategies to prevent sexual harassment in The Gambia.

The workshop’s objective is to enhance workplace conditions and guarantee a secure environment for female journalists, both in newsrooms and on assignments.

As an integral aspect of its mandate, the GPU remains dedicated to safeguarding the welfare of its members through a series of capacity-building initiatives, advocating for press freedom, and nurturing a robust and dependable media landscape in The Gambia.

During the opening ceremony, Muhammad S. Bah, President of the Gambia Press Union, highlighted the urgent need for action following a comprehensive report commissioned by the GPU in August 2020, which shed light on the prevalence of sexual harassment within Gambian media agencies. In response, the GPU developed a pioneering Sexual Harassment Policy for the Media in The Gambia, published in September 2020, serving as a vital framework for combating sexual harassment and fostering a culture of respect and dignity in the workplace.

Mr. Bah emphasized the importance of enhancing the capacity of media editors and managers to collectively strive for a harassment-free media landscape, aligning with the objectives of the EU-funded Consolidation of Democratic Dispensation in The Gambia project, which aims to promote a participatory, inclusive, and rights-based democratic transition.

“We firmly believe that by enhancing the capacity of media editors and managers, we can collectively strive towards a media landscape that is free from sexual harassment in any form. This training aligns with the objectives of the EU-funded Consolidation of Democratic Dispensation in The Gambia project, which seeks to promote a participatory, inclusive, and rights-based democratic transition,” he said.

Mrs. Jainaba Faye, Head of the Country Office at the International IDEA, presented statistics derived from the Gambia Press Union’s report on sexual harassment in the media, describing the findings as distressing. The report revealed that a significant percentage of respondents had either witnessed or experienced sexual harassment within media organizations, underscoring the pressing need for preventive measures and proper reporting mechanisms.

“In August 2020, The Gambia Press Union commissioned and published a Report on Sexual Harassment in the media. This study investigated the prevalence of sexual harassment, the situations that drive the practice, and the individual as well as organizational modes of response to the issue. The respondents were drawn from 24 media organizations and freelancing journalists.

“The findings, however, are truly heartbreaking; with 22% of the respondents having heard rumors of sexual harassment in the workplace, 40% of them have heard it more than twice. 23.9% are aware of someone being sexually harassed, and 13.7% have had personal experience of sexual harassment,” she highlighted. 

Faye expressed hope that the workshop would equip participants with the knowledge and tools to effectively combat sexual harassment and establish robust reporting procedures.

Raphaël Brigandi, the European Union chargé d’affaires in The Gambia, reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to supporting gender equality and human rights, emphasizing the crucial role of the media in shaping public opinion and fostering a democratic society. He highlighted the detrimental effects of sexual harassment on professional growth and personal well-being, stressing the importance of creating conditions that respect individuals’ dignity and integrity.

“It is imperative that those at the forefront of this sector work in conditions that respect their dignity and integrity. Therefore, the EU proudly supports the Consolidation of Democratic Dispensation in The Gambia project, under which this training is conducted,” he said 

Brigandi noted the detrimental impact of unreported sexual harassment in the media, often due to societal and professional taboos.

“It is distressing to acknowledge, as highlighted in the GPU’s research, that such harassment remains largely unreported due to cultural and professional stigmas,” he stressed.

Bakary Fatty, Radio Programs Manager at GRTS Radio, shared his optimism about the training’s benefits, particularly in addressing sexual harassment and fostering respect for women in the media industry.

“This training will go a long way, and it will provide me with the necessary information to know where the problem lies. And more importantly, the tools I will be able to use and, of course, share with my colleagues to see that the issue of Sexual Harassment is addressed in the media fraternity because women should be respected,” he said. 

In 2023, the EU Delegation to The Gambia and International IDEA launched the “Supporting Consolidation to Democratic Dispensation in The Gambia” project. Funded by the EU and implemented by International IDEA, the project provides technical support to key democratic institutions, including the National Assembly, the National Human Rights Commission, and the GPU, laying the groundwork for an inclusive, participatory, gender-sensitive, and peaceful democratic transition in The Gambia.

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