By Alex Yomah
The Director General of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA), Emma M. Glassco has challenged the newly inducted officials of the Female Journalists Association of Liberia (FeJAL) not to settle for mediocrity while urging them to take up the cause for Gender partnership at all levels and not gender sympathy.
“Let me reecho my statement on women’s participation; we cannot settle for mediocrity; we must reach the zenith. We must champion the cause for gender partnership, having a seat at the table. Not sympathy but competition and partnership. Not complacency but hard work. We must stand up for our rightful place in society. Work hard and what men do, women do it better,” she admonished female journalists.
Female Journalists Association of Liberia (FeJAL) envisages a media landscape where women journalists are seen and treated the same as their male counterparts and its mission is to promote social justice, equal opportunities, and create a safe working environment for women in the media in Liberia.
Serving as a Guest Speaker for program marking the induction ceremony of the FeJAL officials in Paynesville on Friday, January 29, 2021, Madam Glassco began with a quote written by an American author, Ellen K. Pao, in which she said; “For everyone courageous female leader who is willing to fight for retribution for unfair treatment, there are a thousand more who walk away with the inability to surface and remove both conscious and unconscious forms of discrimination in our society”.
The NaFAA Boss said women and girls typically face higher risks and greater burdens from society, and the journalism profession is no exception, noting that the profession is heavily dominated by men and has huge risks associated.
“Women have been traditionally underrepresented in the media; sometimes they received backlashes whether it is in front of the camera, behind the camera, in the front or back, there have been fewer women in positions of power and responsibility. Their voices have not been heard until now,” she frowned.
“I think if women are visible in the media, truly visible in an empowered role, it empowers us to move visible in any area of our lives. These challenges are also experienced in Liberia. However, today, we are proud of the work some women are doing in Liberia. We are witnessing first hand a paradigm shift in women’s participation at all levels and in all professions. We experienced a woman President at the National level, now a woman Vice President, also women in Cabinet, as well as heads of SOEs and Autonomous Agencies,” Madam Glassco indicated.
Despite the gains being made in government, the Guest Speaker expressed dissatisfaction in the leadership of the Press Union of Liberia for not been gender sensitive.
“In the journalism profession women have been taking up key roles. But I am discouraged that at the leadership level of the PUL, there is no woman represented,” Madam Glassco intimated.
She also noted that women are playing senior managerial roles, citing the role of the State-run media House, Liberia Broadcasting System headed by Estella Liberty Kermoh and that other women are making significant contributions in both the media and governmental institutions.
“These are just few, but much more needs to be done. We can’t just be satisfied with women crawling up the ladder one by one, and saying, ‘Well, we got one more woman to the top, working side by side with men’. There is absolutely no reason for which women can’t achieve breakthroughs in the work Gender partnership. In fact, women can even do better, because of the natural passion for completion and perfection,” she motivated.
According to the Guest Speaker, women engaging men in the fight for gender equality is the single biggest leverage women have. She added, “Men control the power in government, commerce, science and academia, when we stop blaming them and start engaging them, we have taken the single biggest step towards full Gender partnership”.
She then challenged women to pursue excellence and be bold to speak out. She said, “Let your voices be heard at the decision making table. To the leadership, it is more than just taking up power and position. It goes way beyond that. It is about service and the one thing that holds people together. Trust is absolutely fundamental to getting anything done. Organizations are the biggest issues that people don’t talk about, but impede progress”.
The induction ceremony invited former and current government officials including, representatives of the Ministry of Information Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), Liberia News Agency (LINA), former Gender Minister, Julius Duncan Cassell including the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) the Publisher Association of Liberia (PAL), Internews, LMC, CEMESP among others.
FeJAL officials inducted include, Madam Siatta Scott Johnson, President; C. Winnie Saywah Jimmy, Vice President; Zoquay Beysolow Konneh, Secretary General and Lieseh Haroe, Financial Secretary respectively. The official induction had been overdue as the result of internal bickering which among other things lasted for nearly a year before the official induction.
In remarks, the Managing Editor of the Inquirer Newspaper, Atty. Philip Wesseh used the occasion to caution the officials of FeJAL to seek unity, stating that the leadership has been at loggerhead for a long time, urging the female group to bring together those that are disenchanted.
The Inquirer Managing Editor’s statement buttressed earlier statements made by Malcolm Joseph who admonished FeJAL to strive for unity among its members.
However, FeJAL President, Madam Siatta Scott Johnson outlined achievements and strive made for the successful induction ceremony. She also vowed to continuously strive for peace and stability always and advocate for female Journalists’ rights and advancement in both journalism profession and Liberia at large.