Welcome to Part 2 of our January 2024 Inspirational Interview with Tobore Mit Ovuorie of Nigeria.
Tobore Ovuorie is a dogged, multiple award-winning investigative journalist, freedom of speech laureate and documentary filmmaker with a niche for development and multimedia stories. She mainly investigates human rights abuses, corruption, and health and regulatory failures. Her works, which are always hard-hitting and spark societal discussions with lives being impacted positively, demonstrate how media can be used as a vehicle for advocacy and have been instrumental in breaking the silence that surrounds certain forms of violence against women.
In this part of the interview, Tobore shares her advice for journalists seeking more accurate reporting of VAW in their communities and talks about how to engage men and boys in efforts to end VAW.
Part one of Tobore’s interview was published 6 January, 2024.
All photos are courtesy of Tobore Mit Ovuorie.
6. What would your advice be to the anti-VAW activists working in the media as journalists, editors, and producers in other parts of the world who wish to push for the media in their country or region to report about VAW in an accurate and informed way?
Such journalists should push for comprehensive understanding of the issue of VAW and this self-education must begin with the journalist himself or herself. It is key that they understand the various forms of violence, causes and impact on survivors, as well as the society. The journalist should push for his or her colleagues seeking fresh knowledge by staying up-to-date with the latest trends, research and statistics related to VAW. These will help them present accurate and up-to-date information to their audience.
Anti-VAW activists in the media should push for their colleagues to uphold the principles of ethical journalism by, for instance, prioritising the privacy of survivors by respecting their wishes and understanding that not every survivor would be comfortable with public exposure and their informed consent must be obtained before using anything, especially images and stories about them. They should also push that their colleagues must be intentional with the language used in their reports, such as avoiding victim-blaming, because the language used by the media does shape how people perceive violence against women and girls. They must be told that change may not happen overnight and it is a challenging journey.
7. One of the keys to eradicating VAW is to get men and boys on board efforts to do so. What do you think are the most effective ways of galvanising men and boys to help to end VAW?
Honestly, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy to get men and boys to help end VAW because different approaches do have cultural contexts to them. However, using sports as a platform to reach and influence a wide audience is a universal strategy and effective method to be deployed. Open and honest discussions about VAW should be encouraged during sporting activities with the impact and role men and boys could play in ending it being the core of such talks.
A very effective way to get men and boys on-board–for instance in Africa–is by encouraging male community leaders to speak out against VAW. Their actions should also match their words. Men and boys should be involved in advocacy efforts to show solidarity and commitment to the cause. Globally, stories of men who have taken a stand against VAW and who demonstrate respectful behaviour and equality in relationships should be showcased on all platforms and at every level to inspire others. Gender-sensitive education in schools should be promoted and programmes must challenge harmful stereotypes.
8. Tell us about your plans for the future. What campaigns, programmes, or projects do you have coming up in the next 5 years?
Over the next five years, I will be building partnerships, raising funds and collaborating with various stakeholders, such as working on initiatives that encourage social media platforms and tech companies to combat online VAW. I will produce and publicise stronger multimedia campaigns to educate the public about the various forms of VAW and organise workshops in schools and communities–within and outside of Nigeria–to educate people about gender equality and respectful relationships.
In the next five years, I will also introduce the #ReportHerAccurately project which seeks to promote responsible reporting on issues related to VAW and create media campaigns that would highlight survivors’ stories, thereby giving voice to the voiceless. In the next five years I will utilise stronger use of social media and online platforms to create awareness, share stories and mobilise support for the cause and collaborate with organisations to address VAW on a global scale while taking into account various regional differences. I will also address how socioeconomic status intersects with gender-based violence and develop programmes that cater to this intersection while engaging young people in awareness and educative advocacy to promote gender equality and prevent violence against women and girls. My initiatives and projects would be tailored to the various regions’ and communities’ unique structures.
9. How can The Pixel Project’s supporters engage with and support your efforts to stop violence against women?
The Pixel Project’s supporters can support my efforts by sharing my content and updates on social media platforms to raise awareness about the issue. They could accompany the shared content with necessary hash-tags in order to reach more people and amplify the message. While doing the aforementioned, they could also participate in my online discussions and comment sections of this content to promote constructive dialogues around the issue.
I need information, so I would greatly appreciate them providing me with personal stories and data related to VAW that would assist my research and reporting. My efforts could be supported by attending events I would be organising–offline and online–to show support and solidarity and I would greatly appreciate donations and them offering their time and skills to any of my organisations in this regard. Most importantly, promoting a culture of respect, consent and gender equality in their lives and spaces is a crucial way to support my efforts to end VAW.
10. In your considered opinion, how can we end VAW for good?
Ending violence against women and girls is not a short-term goal; it requires continuous efforts and commitments of individuals, families, organisations, communities and governments to change the tide. Honestly, to completely eliminate VAW is a daunting goal but progress towards ending it for good could be made by raising awareness, significantly addressing the root causes, providing robust support to survivors and creating safer and more equitable societies.
We can also end VAW for good by introducing and implementing prevention programmes that engage people of all ages, with the teaching of healthy relationship dynamics and conflict resolution skills at the core of the campaign. Empowering women economically will reduce their vulnerability to abuse and when we add the promotion of positive masculinity by educating men and boys on the importance of respecting women’s rights, we would be on the right path to ending VAW for good.