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Closing Programme: Media4Democracy Fellows Meet Ambassador to EUD to Rwanda

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Rwanda, August 2019 – The EU Ambassador to Rwanda, Nicola Bellomo, met with five Media4Democracy Fellows at the close of a programme designed to strengthen them as leaders of institutions promoting media pluralism in Rwanda. The meeting also included Media4Democracy global experts, Mogens Blicher Bjerregård and Henrik Ahrens, and representatives of the EU Delegation to Rwanda.

At the meeting, the Fellows presented the results of their individual projects, which they developed during a three-week intensive programme in Copenhagen in March-April 2019 and implemented on their return to Rwanda.

“Pluralistic, independent and thriving media is at the top of our priorities,” EU Ambassador Nicola Bellomo told the group. “I am pleased to see the impact of learning and inspiration from other countries, and the building of cooperation and liaisons across the group of Fellows. The EU Delegation will follow the ongoing initiatives of this group of media leaders,” the Ambassador said.

During their time in Copenhagen, the Fellows expanded their knowledge of media freedom and pluralism, deepened their leadership skills and learned about the importance of cross-institutional coordination.  They also gained direct understanding of European standards for institutions supporting media and met professionals working for Danish journalism unions, training institutions, professional bodies and media outlets.

During four months of remote mentorship after the Copenhagen visit, each Fellow worked on projects to catalyse change within their own organisations and in Rwanda:

  • Olivier Ngabirano has launched a new network of investigative journalists.
  • Gonzaga Muganwa is strengthening advocacy aimed at improving the legal framework for media, through his organisation the Association of Rwanda Journalists.
  • Marie Louise Uwizeyimana has begun transforming the Rwanda Media Union into a fully-licensed trade union focused on improving journalists’ labour rights, and has already increased the membership base significantly.
  • Egidie Ingabire has worked on the empowerment of women in the media sector in Rwanda and on increasing the number of women working as journalists and as media leaders.
  • Edmund Kagire is working with the Rwanda Media Commission to strengthen access to information and self-regulation in the country.

Media4Democracy expert, Mr. Bjerregård, noted that the commitment of the Fellows to make a difference will surely strengthen their organisations’ ability to meet the needs of their members.

Mr. Ahrens added that the Fellowship has helped increase the level of cooperation between the Fellows’ organisations, and that this will provide a strong foundation for future joint action to address the continuing challenges for media freedom and pluralism in Rwanda.

The Fellowship with the EU Delegation to Rwanda represents the second round of the Media4Democracy Fellowship, following the successful pilot implementation in Tanzania.  The third round will launch in Copenhagen in September 2019 with five media institution leaders selected by the EU Delegation to the Kyrgyz Republic.