The 2017/2018 UNESCO World Trends Report in Freedom of Expression and Media Development is a living proof that there is a lot that need to be done, to improve the state of freedom of expression globally.
Speaking on journalist security and impunity at the launch of the report, which took place in Makerere University, Kampala, Prof. Rune Ottosen a representative of the Norwegian National Commission for UNESCO and a lecturer at the Journalism and Media International Centre/Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences (JMIC/OsloMet), raised the report’s concern of increased violence against journalists, while the perpetrators continue to be left free.
Welcoming the participants to the launch, speakers from Makerere University hailed the timely and strategic launch of the report in Africa and in particular in an academic institution. Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, the Dean, School of Languages, Literature and Communication, at the Makerere University, told the participants that the University takes exceptional interest in any form of violation of freedom of expression by both state and none state actors and that the report will shed more light where media freedom has also not been respected. “This report equips the Makerere University teaching staff with current information on the global media landscape, which will ensure our students are capacitated with skills that respond to the job markets” Dr. Gerald Waluhya, a lecturer in the same department echoed Aron’s sentiments.
Bringing together media stakeholders from the academia, journalist associations, media houses, civil society/Human rights defenders, media development partners among them bilateral donors, the Kampala event held on 14th March 2018 was co-organised by OsloMet, Norwegian National Commission of UNESCO, Makerere University and UNESCO. It was also graced by the presence of H.E Ambassador Susan Eckey, the Norwegian Ambassador to Uganda, and a representative of the Swedish Embassy in Uganda.
Speaking during the opening session, Ambassador Eckey lauded UNESCO for paying special focus to the concerns on gender parity through the Global Alliance on Media and Gender and the UNESCO Gender Sensitive Indicators Media. “Women do have opinions but where are women voices in the public sphere. Why are their contributions not taken seriously and why do women remain heavily underrepresented in the media workforce?” Amb. Eckey asked the audience.
The report is funded by the Governments of Norway and Sweden and was presented by Lydia Gachungi, the Expert on Safety of journalists and Media Development in the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa. Highlighting the trends in Media Development, Ms. Gachungi urged the participants to proactively provide opportunities and build more capacity of women to develop an online presence that will liberate them from newsroom hierarchies. “We also need to support progressive policies such as cybersecurity laws, that address technology assisted gender based online women concerns online and promote Media and Information Literacy in our respective countries.” Ms. Gachungi emphasized.
The 2017/2018 edition of the World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development Report was officially launched in Uganda by Mr. Meddie Mulumba, Commissioner, Uganda Human Rights Commission. The report offers a critical analysis of new trends in media freedom, pluralism, independence and the safety of journalists. With a special focus on gender equality in the media, the report provides a global perspective that serves as an essential resource for UNESCO Member States, international organizations, civil society groups, academia and individuals, seeking to understand the changing global media landscape.