Breaking Barriers: Somali women journalists triumph through empowerment training

Women journalists in Galmudug gather to train on camera during SJS training session supported by German Embassy. | Photo/ SJS.
Women journalists in Galmudug gather to train on camera during SJS training session supported by German Embassy. | Photo/ SJS.

 Raa’ido Ali Isse, an energetic young radio journalist at Radio Dhambaal in Adado, Galmudug State of Somalia, has emerged victorious after facing significant hurdles in her seven-year media career.

Overcoming challenges of limited skill-based training and a male-dominated profession that hindered her promotion, Raa’ido found a turning point through the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) training supported by the German Embassy in Nairobi in 2022.

“I was inspired by the training I received, which gave me the courage to encourage and train other fellow female journalists and deliver what I have learned,” says Raa’ido, who returned to her radio station in Adado to support other women journalists with the skills gained, even launching her own female journalist association.

In a deeply patriarchal society like Somalia, discussing women’s issues publicly can be challenging, and women journalists often face abuse and sexism. Despite these obstacles, Raa’ido’s success story underscores the resilience of female journalists striving for better opportunities.

While numerous organizations in Somalia offer training to journalists, Raa’ido emphasizes that only a handful make a significant impact.

“It changed my career and my future,” she affirms.

SJS reports that over six months, they provided training to over 100 women journalists who had previously lacked such opportunities. The program focused on instilling professional journalism skills, leadership, and advocacy skills, aiming to equip participants with the tools to ascend to higher positions and gain recognition in their current workplaces.

Reflecting on the initiative’s impact, Raa’ido and her colleagues express optimism about their prospects for promotion, noting the emergence of female producers at their radio station and their aspirations for leadership roles in the near future.

Hamdi Barale, who struggled to find a job for over a year, found a lifeline through training sessions held in Mogadishu.

“The training touched my life and taught us how female journalists can become self-sufficient,” says Hamdi, now a news presenter at Radio Mogadishu, but also she excels in filming high-quality content independently.

She regularly shares short videos on rural life and animal herding across her social media platforms.

“I am now proficient in capturing high-quality content with the camera and can independently produce my own programs. This has enhanced my opportunities,” Hamdi remarked.

Najma Mohamed, based in the conflict-ridden Sool, Sanaag, and Cayn regions, embraced a dual role as a producer and camera person after the SJS training. Despite the challenges of the SSC regions, Najma’s determination led her to complete the training in Garowe, more than 300km away, marking a transformative journey that increased her strength and confidence.

Najma Mohamed is video journalist based in SSC. | Photo/ SJS.

Abdalle Mumin, the general secretary of SJS, highlighted the success achieved through an assessment that gauged the knowledge and needs of participants. The training, supported by Germany, selected women based on their diverse geographical locations, focusing on those who often lack opportunities and those hailing from marginalised communities.

“We conducted an assessment to understand the knowledge and skills of the girls, identifying their learning preferences and gaps. Evaluating the most efficient method for swiftly transforming training into practical skills, we achieved great success,” explained Mumin.

Shukri Adan from Baidoa, who had worked for four years without professional training, underwent a significant transformation after participating in the training held in her town, Baidoa, in November 2022.

Shukri Adan and her colleagues during SJS training session in Baidoa on 22 November, 2022. | Photo/SJS.

“When I received the training, my ambition has changed,” says Shukri, who moved to Mogadishu and secured a journalist job with higher pay, attributing her success to the rare opportunity provided by SJS and Germany.

These success stories affirm that tailored training initiatives empower women journalists in Somalia, building their confidence and inspiring them to pursue their dreams despite the challenges of a dangerous profession.

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