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Media study reveals gender bias in Nigerian

According to the outcome of the 2010 Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) research released on September29 , gender inequality still persists in Nigerian ,

Globally, women, the research indicated are still significantly underrepresented and misrepresented in news media coverage despite significant change since the project began 15 years ago.

The research in 108 countries, including Nigeria, coordinated by the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) revealed that 76 percent of people heard of and  read about in the world media are male.

The project has been held every five years since 1995.

Women’s participation in the news in Nigeria is relatively low compared with men.

Majority of the news subjects for all the news media monitored by the 14 member team lead by Nkem Fab-Ukozor of The Media and Gender Enlightenment Initiative (MEEEIN) were men.

In the latest report, 14% of the news subjects were female, while 86% were male. In 2005, 17% of the news subjects were female, while 83% were male.

There was however an improvement in the score card of female reporters in Nigeria. The GMMP 2005 national result showed that female reporters were just 4 (5%) out of the 75 reporters recorded, and had very few or no reports in the seven major topic areas.

There was however an increase of female reporters according to the 2010 report who actually had good number of reports in all major topic areas except in celebrity, arts and media, and sports.

There were even more women reporters in Science and Health reporting with  58% of the stories reported by female and 42% by male.

Contrary to expectations, there seems to be a drop in the number of female news presenters. The 2005 national result showed female dominance in news presentation, but this year’s showed male dominance in all aspects of news delivery including presentation, announcing and reporting.

Other results obtained by the Nigerian monitors include among others:
* 15 (40%) out of the 38 news presenters were females, while 23 (60%) were males. 44% of the announcers were females, while 56% were males. 18 (26%) out of the 75 reporters recorded were females, while 57(74%) were males.

Fab-Uzor, head of the research team based at the department of Mass Communication, Imo State University, Owerri,  said the outcome of the exercise in Nigeria like that of 2005 was worrisome

“The import is that issues concerning women will continue to witness less media coverage, except there is a gender balance in the number of reporters in the country’s media,” she stated.

This situation according to her will also work against access of women to the media, recognizing that male reporters who dominate the media industry do not seem to be interested in the views of female news subjects or in female topical areas such as ‘the girl-child.’

Programme Officer and Gender Focal Person of the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria, Betty Abah, said the result of the research confirmed the fact that “women have remained largely underreported, and in the majority of cases where they make it into the news pages at all, the reports are laced with sentiments and stereotypes.”

“Every newsroom should embark on a soul-search, and affirmative action, and ensure that their charity of justice starts from home. They should empower female journalists, ensure they are entrusted with so-called ‘manly’ jobs because women are capable, that is if they are not better!” Abah stated.

Chairman of the Lagos Chapter of the National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Dupe Osikanlu – Olaoye commended the conduct of the exercise, noting that it will provide a basis for advocacy on the need for better portrayal of women by the media.