MONROVIA – With the commencement of campaign and political activities leading up to the October 10, 2023 elections and beyond, journalists and media institutions have been urged to remember other sectors of the country that equally require media attention, just as politicians do.
By Henry Karmo [email protected]
One group in society seeking publicity and attention from the media is the disabled community. As a means of ensuring that the media remains attuned to issues affecting disabled individuals, a network of journalists under the banner “Journalist Network on Disability Reporting” has been launched.
The launch was organized by AIFO. AIFO is a professional non-profit health and development organization that creates opportunities for individuals affected by leprosy, persons with disabilities, women, children, and members of impoverished and vulnerable groups. They do this through focused healthcare, education, and economic empowerment initiatives in Liberia. Their aim is to provide a better quality of life and drive large-scale positive change.
Speaking at the launch, Rev. Fallah Boimah, Deputy Director for Administration at the National Commission on Disability, expressed gratitude to AIFO for their initiative. He also urged journalists in the network to play a more active role in promoting the activities and concerns of disabled people.
“I want to encourage the media to support disabled individuals; we are your brothers and sisters. Please stand by us, as our success is intertwined with yours. Our journey towards success relies on your advocacy. The level of support the disability community receives is a direct result of the media’s role in highlighting our issues.”
About the Network: The primary objective of the Journalist Network for Disability Reporting is to enhance media representation, awareness, and understanding of disability issues. The Network aims to promote inclusive reporting by encouraging journalists to adopt inclusive language, perspectives, and coverage of disability-related stories. This approach will showcase the diverse experiences and accomplishments of individuals with disabilities.
Additionally, the network will increase public awareness and understanding of various disabilities. It will challenge misconceptions, debunk stereotypes, and advocate for change through well-researched and empathetic reporting. Leveraging the power of media, the network will also advocate for policy changes, improvements in accessibility, and societal shifts that benefit people with disabilities.
As part of its mission, the network will amplify the voices of individuals with disabilities by providing them with a platform to directly share their stories, experiences, and insights. Furthermore, it will facilitate networking among journalists interested in disability reporting, enabling the exchange of best practices, resources, and experiences.
The network’s overarching mission is to empower journalists and media professionals to effectively report on disability-related issues with accuracy, sensitivity, and inclusivity. The ultimate goal is to reshape the narrative surrounding disabilities, fostering awareness, understanding, and advocacy, while amplifying the voices and experiences of individuals with disabilities.
The network envisions a media landscape where disability issues are prominently and responsibly covered, contributing to a society that respects and values the rights and contributions of people with disabilities. This vision encompasses a society in which accurate and empathetic reporting drives positive change, promotes inclusivity, and challenges stereotypes, ultimately leading to a more inclusive and equitable society for all.
The Coordinated Action on Disability (CAD) program is a four-year intervention aiming to transform systems and institutions in Liberia to include Persons with Disabilities in development processes. This program positions them as advocates and agents of change for an equitable and inclusive society.
CAD-L’s journey commenced with an Inception phase (pilot project) of 12 months in January 2020, which was extended until May 31, 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The full phase of the CAD-L program began on September 1, 2021. This initiative coordinates the efforts of duty bearers (employers, entrepreneurs, policy makers, law enforcement, among others), rights holders (persons with disabilities and leprosy patients), organizations of persons with disabilities (DPOs), organizations of women with disabilities (OWWDs), as well as institutions and civil society organizations representing them. Their collective goal is to enhance the economic independence of PWDs, granting them access to socio-economic and sexual reproductive health rights (SRHRs), and the means to communicate their entitlements effectively.