Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Bid to Bolster Rights Reporting in DRC

Two-week Goma workshop for female reporters geared to boosting coverage of human rights violations.
By Blake Evans-Pritchard

An IWPR training course has helped women journalists from the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, learn how to cover human rights abuses, in particular sexual violence that continues to blight the country.

Seven female journalists from five radio stations across North and South Kivu were selected to take part in the course, which also aimed at providing them with the skills they need to work for print and online media.

In the eastern DRC, where rape remains widespread, covering sexual violence is extremely challenging for female journalists, especially given the male-dominated nature of the media.

Years of war have left their mark in the region, hampering efforts to improve women’s rights and turning sexual violence into an endemic problem.

“Women still remain under-represented in the Congolese media, particularly in the east of the country,” said Blake Evans-Pritchard, IWPR Africa editor, who travelled from The Hague to deliver the training. “IWPR’s support for this group of journalists is an important step towards redressing this balance and making sure that women also get a voice in the country.”

Training female journalists in eastern DRC is also important in order to raise international awareness of sexual violence in the region. Female journalists are much more likely than their male counterparts to win the trust of victims, and so increase coverage of the scourge.

The course, which took place between August 23 and September 3 in the eastern Congolese town of Goma, was conducted in French by Evans-Pritchard, and consisted of a mixture of classroom-based discussion and exercises, combined with individual mentoring sessions.

It built on previous training sessions by developing female journalists’ news reporting skills and providing them with an understanding of the steps involved in working for print and online media.

“The training went very well,” said participant Lucie Bindu. “We learned many things and we expanded what we already knew. I was particularly glad to have the opportunity to talk personally with the trainer, since it was good to have an exchange of ideas face-to-face.

“The practical exercises that we did in the classroom were especially useful, since, without practice, theory is nothing.”

Participant Sarah Nsimire commented, “The training provided an excellent opportunity to strengthen our reporting skills in the written media. Personally, the one-on-one discussions really helped me focus my approach to drafting articles and generated some useful ideas about how to structure my research.”

“It was wonderful to spend two weeks working with such an enthusiastic group of journalists,” Evans-Pritchard said. “I probably learnt as much as they did, and it was great to see first-hand how they work and the difficulties that they often encounter on the ground. This will make it much easier for me to provide targeted feedback on the work that they do for IWPR.”

The journalists’ stories on sexual violence, human rights and justice issues will appear on the IWPR website in the coming weeks.

Blake Evans-Pritichard is IWPR’s Africa editor.