Empowering Yemeni women journalists in Mukalla

UNESCO organized a training for women journalists based in Mukalla, Hadhramaut governorate, Yemen (Photo: Saeed Al Batati)

23.08.2017 - UNESCO Office in Doha

Within the framework of UNESCO’s efforts to promote freedom of expression and media development, UNESCO Cluster Office for Yemen and the GCC organized a training for women journalists based in Mukalla, Hadhramaut governorate, Yemen from 13 to 24 August 2017.

UNESCO undertook this initiative as part of its efforts to support Yemeni media in promoting peace and dialogue and based on gaps identified by local partners in assisting the media sector in times of crisis, including the need for capacity-building opportunities to respond to the lack of representation of women journalists in the newsroom in certain areas of Yemen and the lack of representation of women's stories and voices in local and foreign media content

The training was led by Saeed Al-Batati, freelance journalist based in Mukalla and regular contributor to foreign media including Gulf News, Al Jazeera English, New York Times, the Guardian and Foreign Policy, and implemented by the Hadhramout Establishment for Human Development (HEHD), a local non-profit organization.

As part of the course, trainees wrote stories on themes such as cultural heritage, response to the humanitarian crisis, the situation of IDPs, migration to Europe and women's rights. 

Commenting on the workshop, Sarah Ba-Gubair, who was among the group of trainees, said she learned a lot from this capacity-building opportunity including on “visual journalism, the importance of analysis, gathering facts and pitching new ideas to editors and foreign media outlets". "We definitely need more Yemeni women journalists in the media sector because it is so important to highlight women's stories and show the rest of the world what we are currently going through," she added.

Saeed Al Batati, the lead trainer for the workshop said: "Despite the significant demand for news and updates from southern Yemen, no single bilingual female journalists works as a reporter for local and foreign media outlets. Highly qualified English speaking women have the potential to fill this gap in reporting provided they are equipped with advanced skills in journalism".

Shaim bin Othman, who was also trained over the past ten days, stressed the importance of the workshop given the present context and said it opened her eyes to new possibilities for her future. "I have now more  knowledge to write news and produce quality reports that will allow me to keep up with the situation in the country and report information to people living in Mukalla," she said.

Dr. Saleh Aram, Chairman of HEHD, added: "There is a huge gap in local English-language media, especially, in the number of female journalists in the newsroom. We hope this workshop can contribute to providing the media sector with equipped journalists to contribute to its development". 

The training focused on advanced journalism skills such as media ethics, safety guidelines and digital safety (using UNESCO Reporters Without Borders Safety Guide for Journalists), thematic sessions on lifeline programming, writing on cultural heritage but also on techniques to increase their visibility and pitch stories to foreign editors. The trainees were also asked to conduct practical exercises by conducting interviews and write stories based on the information collected.