Day Two at the Thomson Reuters Foundation/GBC training course on Women’s Health and Opportunity kicked off with a panel with Coca Cola’s Susan Mboya and Peter Nemaenzhe who spoke about their 5 BY 20 initiative.
All the facts and numbers about how the company is trying to change the status of women in developing countries, in someway sidetracked us so that we didn’t question some of the facts given- who knew coke could be better than juice because it has two-and-a-half-times less sugar? How could we let that go by! I shudder just recalling it now.
When it was later pointed out how the opportunity passed us by - 14 journalists! -without properly representing the public, boy that was one guilt trip.
The constructive criticism (along with a recap on the journalism basics) challenged the journalists and got us rolling up our sleeves for the next speaker on one of the region’s most sensitive topics: gender-based violence.
It’s not everyday that someone with Dr. Rachel Jewkes expertise would put the issue into perspective for you. It was an eye-opener on the different types of gender violence, as each person in the group talked about how the problem exists in their country.
It was also interesting how the group professionally placed their feelings aside, and seeing some come out of their shell, as the topic was thoroughly discussed.
I was struck by how gender-based violence exists in our societies, the problem is not only about the man hitting his wife or the father abusing his daughter, it goes way deeper than that and its effects are massive -- not only on the victim but on the country at large.
Moreover, there may very well be different forms of this problem. I wondered if it exists on some other level in Egypt that we are not aware of, and if it is, then it must be addressed. Now. And it’s my duty as a journalist to go digging and finding where it exists and shed light on it.
This will not be an easy task, especially as it has to be appropriately addressed to bring about real and positive attitude change in our society.
Following the panel, the course trainers ruling came: the journalists have redeemed themselves! A writing exercise came next, posing an exciting challenge for the journalists to practice the skills they learned from the sessions.