In 2020, WAN-IFRA Women in News launched a new initiative to promote coverage of marginalised and at risk communities throughout WIN markets in Sub Saharan Africa, and to provide support to journalists as well as media organisations feeling the financial strain of Covid-19.
Since introducing the initiative, more than 70 journalists have been awarded a SIRI reporting assignment, and 30 organisations have received small grants to help either cover the stories of, or bring news and information to, marginalised communities.
“The SIRI grant gave me an opportunity to tell extraordinary stories of individuals (particularly women and girls) and rural community organisations that are striving each day for better livelihoods … but lack exposure to media spaces that can profile their great work,” said Ezelina Kamaliza, a recipient from Malawi.
In Zimbabwe, Locadia Mavhudzi used the funding to seal the gap left after the country’s largest media company downsized.“The (assignment) helped me remain afloat and relevant in the newsmaking world. I managed to tell the Covid-19 story, unpacking complex community perspectives on the pandemic and raising awareness on national response mechanisms,” Mavhudzi said.
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Women Media Owners For Change in Rwanda applied for a SIRI grant in 2020 to help women journalists report on gender-specific issues relating to Covid-19. A total of 102 stories were published through the grant. Stories showed the devastating impact of COVID-19 on Women in all their roles, from single-parent breadwinners to mothers, teachers, entrepreneurs and carers.
In Tanzania, Women Writers Forum used a grant to train and mentor 20 journalists from various mediums and regions on investigative journalism and the social impact of Covid-19. The journalists pitched story ideas to mentors who helped them refine their stories for greater impact.
So far in 2021, 27 women journalists have been awarded reporting assignments, and 16 media organisations received financing to cover costs related to reporting activities focusing on social impact, short term reporting contract and personal protective equipment.
More than 90 women journalists and 46 organisations, representing print, digital, radio and journalism-support entities, applied for the first round of funding in 2021.
“The high number of entries in this round is testimony to the interest in ensuring stories of the under-represented get told in mainstream media,” said WIN Africa Director Jane Godia. “It also reflects the severe financial strain on individuals and organisations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has been reaffirmed by ongoing research conducted within our community ”
A second round of SIRI grants will open on 30th May 2021. Priority themes for 2021 are gender equality; poverty and social issues; diversity of thought and opinion; public-interest investigative journalism; and health and safety reporting, all tying into the overarching theme of marginalised and at risk communities. Link to applications