Journalists prepare to bring development to the forefront
After spending three days at a workshop organized by UNICEF in conjunction with the Press Syndicate, 30 Egyptian journalists emerged ready to bring developmental issues to the forefront of public debate.
“The media can complement and encourage the work being done out on the field,” said Nasser Sobhi, a journalist for Al Watani newspaper and an attendee at the workshop. “The role of the media with regards to development is that of illumination. We need to shed light on the positive efforts being made and offer constructive criticism on the things that need to be changed.”
Aiming to provide journalists with the knowledge and tools to report adequately and effectively on issues concerning women and children in Egypt, the workshop featured presentations on the portrayal of women in Egyptian media, the situation of youth in Egypt, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as well as an introduction to DevInfo, a database system that can be used to monitor, organize and display information on development indicators and the MDGs in particular.
The presentations focused on the development challenges facing Egypt, especially with regard to women and children. Dr. Sahar Hegazi, Chief of Communication for Development at UNICEF, discussed the political, economic, social and legal obstacles to gender equality. This was followed by an overview of the MDGs presented by Communication Officer at the office of the Resident Coordinator in Egypt Inji Galal. Meanwhile, Salma Wahba, UNICEF Adolescence Officer, presented the preliminary results of the study, Survey of Young People in Egypt. Conducted in collaboration with the Information and Decision Support Center and the International Population Council, the study discussed the status of youth with regard to health, education, employment and political participation.
Nadine Hamam, a journalist for Al Ahram, was particularly impressed with the introduction to DevInfo. “DevInfo is fantastic,” she said. “I am the kind of journalist that likes to include numbers and statistics in my work, but sometimes that is difficult for me.”
Along with many of her colleagues, Hamam reports often on the work of international agencies and non-governmental organizations. She believes the database will make her coverage of development news more effective.
Hamida Abdul Moneim, a writer for Al Gomhoria, was most interested in the MDGs. “I enjoyed learning more about them and comparing the goals with what’s happening here,” she said. Abdul Moneim would like to focus more of her reporting on equality and the environment.
'We in UNICEF believe in the power of the media as a main advocate for children's rights,” said Hala Abu Khatwa, UNICEF Communication Specialist. “Improving journalists’ access to the latest reliable data and their ability to analyze research findings leads to public dialogue around children's issues and strengthens social responsibility. A well documented report can change society."