Lebanese Media Challenged in Covering Elections: Abu-Fadil

Lebanese media covering elections face a double challenge: reporting events tied to antiquated sectarian-based laws and grasping draft legislation aimed at reforming what’s on the books.

They must also deal with constraints on journalists and their organizations that hamper newsgathering and dissemination, Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil told reporters at a forum in Amman.

Magda Abu-Fadil on challenges in covering Lebanese elections

Magda Abu-Fadil on challenges in covering Lebanese elections

Her presentation drew on attempts by Lebanon’s National Commission on Parliamentary Electoral Law to streamline procedures, regulations on campaign finances, advertising, the voting age, establishing a quota for women candidates, permitting voters to cast their ballots in their place of residence, and, ensuring that serving cabinet members don’t double as legislators.

She showed video clips on a satirical campaign mocking politicians’ hollow promises, a spot on the divisiveness of sectarianism, the symbiotic relationship between the media and politicians, and how Lebanese youth view their elected officials.

Abu-Fadil also stressed the importance of being able to decypher government budgets and how public funds are spent.

A common thread at the forum was learning all about the candidates, their programs, the parties involved, campaign promises, policies, electoral rules and procedures, the vote counting process, surveys, and security measures.

Amman conferees discuss elections coverage in their countries

Amman conferees discuss elections coverage in their countries

The two-day seminar in November 2013 grouped Jordanian journalists who had attended training workshops on elections coverage with counterparts from Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, Palestine and Iraq who had covered elections in their own countries as well as regionally and internationally.

Mai Shams El Din discusses Egypt's elections

Mai Shams El Din discusses Egypt’s elections

It was funded by the European Union and organized by UNESCO‘s Amman office .

UNESCO project manager Rut Gomez Sobrino and EU's Patricia Pennetier

UNESCO project manager Rut Gomez Sobrino and EU’s Patricia Pennetier

Abu-Fadil Article As Part of EWIC Public Outreach Project

An article by Media Unlimited director Abu-Fadil entitled “Arts: Women Journalists and Women’s Press: Central Arab States” [Arts Women Journalists and womens press central arab states Abu Fadil] was selected to be used as part of the Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures’ Public Outreach Project.

Arts Women Journalists and women's press central Arab states Abu Fadil-1

The outreach project covers a range of community organizations, including K-12 teachers and the media, with a goal of disseminating knowledge about women and Islamic cultures.

The project is funded by a Henry Luce Foundation grant, and the public outreach is organized by EWIC’s General Editor, Suad Joseph as well as Associate Editors, Bahar Davary, Marilyn Booth, Sarah Gualtieri and Elora Shehabuddin.

As part of the project, the article published in 2007 will be made available on the Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures and General Editor’s website.

It will also be published as a brochure and in brief format to be handed out to local agencies, NGOs, schools, religious institutions, and interfaith organizations.

Dr. Suad Joseph is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Women and Gender Studies at the University of California, Davis.

MU Trains Lebanese Journos to Cover Women’s Economic Empowerment

A series of countrywide workshops introduced Lebanese journalists to women’s economic empowerment in rural areas in a bid to improve media coverage of the often-neglected topic.

Magda Abu-Fadil with Tripoli journalists

Magda Abu-Fadil with Tripoli journalists

Print, online and broadcast journalists based in various regions of Lebanon learned how to define women’s economic empowerment, how to enter the terminology in their media lexicon and how to cover topics related to promoting gender equality.

Abu-Fadil with Bekaa-based journalists

Abu-Fadil with Bekaa-based journalists

MU director Magda Abu-Fadil conducted a series of mini-courses in the Bekaa Valley city of Zahle, the northern port city of Tripoli and the southern city of Tyre where reporters, correspondents, cameramen and photographers became better acquainted with agriculture-based cooperatives that help women become financially independent.

The sessions included knowledge about existing impediments to empowerment.

Abu-Fadil also discussed how advocacy through traditional and social media can enhance women’s economic empowerment, and reviewed case studies of successful initiatives.

The three two-day workshops in February and March organized by the Collective for Research and Training on Development – Action (CRTDA) brought together reporters and civil society representatives from various towns and cities in Lebanon.

They followed an initial course aimed at journalists in the Lebanese capital Beirut.

Abu-Fadil and CRTDA’s Hayat Mershad with Beirut journalists

Abu-Fadil and CRTDA’s Hayat Mershad with Beirut journalists

A session focused on women in the Lebanese economy, how gender equality translates into smart economics, and, how the CRTDA has helped rural women set up cooperatives and their economic impact.

Trainees in Tyre

Trainees in Tyre

Trainees were given examples of cooperatives in the country’s Bekaa, South and Akkar regions aimed at building women’s productive and leadership skills, facilitating their access to local and international markets and supporting participatory governance and leadership.

A session by journalist Saada Allaw featured results of a media audit on coverage of women’s economic empowerment and gender equality issues.

Saada Allaw shares media study results with Tyre journalists

Saada Allaw shares media study results with Tyre journalists

Participants were then tasked with writing a piece for publication in their respective media, which will be reviewed and edited on a third training day weeks after the initial workshop.

The best coverage from workshops across the country will be awarded and will be published on CRTDA’s website.


Arab Women Beat Men on Twitter: Sayyidati

Arab women are making great strides in their use of social media, often outrunning their male counterparts on Twitter, according to studies.

The shift from traditional to digital, social and interactive media is a natural for women, notably in the Arab world where conservative societies have been slow to accept females in high visibility roles, Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil said.

“Thanks to such media, you feel women have a presence, are speaking out more, communicating more, interacting more with their societies, and perhaps with people they don’t even know, and have proved themselves,” she told Maysaa Al Amoudi on the Rotana satellite channel show “Sayyidati” (My Lady).

Women have been able to reach far wider audiences than they would through traditional media, she explained, adding that they have to develop by mastering different social media tools and platforms.