|© UNICEF Nepal/2012/Basnet|
|Nilipha Subba, one of the top award winners, is presented with a laptop for producing consistently high-quality stories on children and women's issues.|
By John Brittain and Ashma Shrestha Basnet
KATHMANDU, Nepal, 11 May 2012 – Fifty journalists in Nepal have been awarded for highlighting the harsh realities facing the country’s children and women.
The journalists, from 30 of Nepal’s 75 districts, have collectively published over 400 stories in various national and local media over the last two years. The writers, over half of whom are women, have all been engaged in a two-year long collaboration between UNICEF and the Nepal Press Institute (NPI), which has provided ongoing training and support to the participants.
The programme was intended to encourage the journalists to report not only on topics that the mainstream Nepali media concentrates on – mainly politics – but also on the many issues which affect the lives of children and women. The stories have generated a major response, creating a demand among the media for more such features.
“A public space and expectation has been created for them and by them,” said Hanaa Singer, UNICEF Representative in Nepal, “and the fascinating voice of women talking about women’s issues is being heard.”
Dedicated coverage of children’s and women’s issues
The award ceremony was also a chance for many of the journalists to share some of their own stories.
"I did an investigative story on citizenship and how women and children are suffering in the absence of it," said Chadani Hamal, a correspondent of the Nagarik national daily newspaper. "My story led to a visit by Constituent Assembly members and the stateless women were heard by the CA members. This is the first time they have been taken seriously in this way."
Nilipha Subba, a Dharan-based journalist, was one of the top award winners. She received a laptop for the consistently high quality of her work. "When I started my career, everyone told me that I would get nowhere writing stories on children and women," she said. "Now this award is my answer to those people, and I am sure this laptop will help me to continue writing such stories."
|© UNICEF Nepal/2012/Basnet|
|A participant receives a camera for producing high-quality stories on children and women's issues.|
One of the male participants, Rakesh Prasad Chaudhary, a radio and television journalist from Mahottari, also spoke up. "Before the training, I seldom wrote about children and women," he said. "Now after writing a whole series of stories on these issues, I have realized that we can make a career by covering these issues as well."
Mala Karn from Saptari, in eastern Nepal, also won a laptop. She said that the training had helped boost her confidence, and after the training, she negotiated with her newspaper editor to dedicate a page to children’s and women's issues. She now coordinates that page.
Ensuring children and women are heard
UNICEF had partnered with Nepal Press Institute (NPI) to roll out the initiative at three focal points across the country.
NPI and its affiliate, the Regional Media Resource Centre, helped the journalists by advising them on content and editing their stories, while also helping ensure that their work was published in the local and national media.
As an incentive, cameras were presented to all the journalists who published consistently, and three laptops were presented to the best performing journalists.
“The direct support of UNICEF in the project has now ended, but the space created by the journalists has remained open,” said Ms. Singer, “and the women and children of Nepal have found a larger forum in which to speak and be heard.”