Mr Waheed Odusile, the President of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ), has appealed to female journalists to be agents of peace to help nib-in-the-bud hate speech which was rearing its ugly head in many parts of Africa.

He said hate speeches were currently dominating in the media and if that practice is not checked, it could cause mayhem and hamper the growth of the African continent.

“People just get up to say anything in the media because they want to be heard, but as journalists we must not allow this to continue in any part of Africa”, he said and urged journalists not to entertain people whose speeches had no substance in them.

Mr Odusile said this when he opened a five-day training of trainers’ workshop on “Gender equity and safety” organised by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in collaboration with FAD for female journalists, in Dakar on Thursday.

Funded by the Norwegian Union of Journalists, the workshop is being attended by 15 participants from seven African countries including Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, Uganda and Tanzania and it is aimed at training women to be change agents on gender issues in their respective countries.

Of late, there have been series of hate speeches in newspapers, social media and the airwaves in many parts of the continent of which many prominent personalities have condemned.

Mr Odusile, who is also the President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), called for more capacity training for journalists -female journalists who must be empowered to be trail blazers leading the desire for change in the society.

He said issues affecting female journalists needed prompt attention because they formed part of the key builders of the society and touted the need to break barriers and stereotypes that hinder the progress of women.

The general development of journalism in Africa, he said, would facilitate the emancipation of women for their growth and ensure that they do not play second fiddle to women anywhere.

The FAJ President urged the participants to go back and impart the knowledge they acquire to help change the gender situation in their respective countries.

On ethical issues in the journalism profession, he said, they were of great concern to FAD and regional training on ethics will soon be organised to address it.

Eva Stabell, Projet Manager and a facilitator of the workshop, said the Norwegian Government believes in press freedom and training because journalism had no boarders.

Ms Stabell said if journalists knew, the rest of society will know, hence the capacity building to further empower female journalists to keep them abreast with gender equity and safety issues.

She said international surveys showed that problems such as harassment of female journalists in the newsroom was rife as some of them were forced to leave the newsroom as a result and urged women journalists to be more assertive and be in charge of their own safety.

Jane Worthington of the IFJ’s Asia -Pacific office, said gender equity and safety training was very important and tasked women journalists to develop their own safety nets to guide them in their work.

GNA