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Rwandan Media Leaders Complete M4D Fellowship in Copenhagen

Media4Democracy and EU Delegations Explore Importance of Access to Information
World Press Freedom Day 3 May – How Disinformation Challenges Elections and Democracy

Denmark, April 2019 – Five young leaders of media institutions in Rwanda have completed an intensive fellowship programme in Copenhagen and returned home to apply their new skills as the country marks the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide.

The Media4Democracy fellowship programme Strengthening Institutional Leaders in Support of Media Pluralism was undertaken in close collaboration with the EU Delegation to Rwanda. The programme aims at building the knowledge and skills of Fellows to serve as change agents to strengthen media pluralism and freedom of expression in their home country.

The Fellows spent three weeks in Copenhagen in March 2019 and were based at the Danish Union of Journalists. Media4Democracy Fellowship Coordinators, Mogens Blicher Bjerregård and Henrik Ahrens, led the group through a challenging curriculum consisting of training in leadership, project development, and management of media institutions, as well as a series of meetings with a wide range of professionals working for effective media institutions and media outlets in Denmark.

Through training and coaching, the Fellows strengthened their ability to take on the challenges of leadership within the Rwandan media sector.  Mr. Ahrens, Fellowship Training Coordinator says:

“This month, Rwandans mark 25 years since a genocide that killed hundreds of thousands of people. It’s still a tremendous challenge for the society to shape a collective conscience that will enable descendants of victims and perpetrators to confront this past together. The media plays a significant role in creating a discourse and giving people a voice. Supporting freedom of media through the Media4Democracy fellowship programme can, therefore, have an immediate impact on Rwandans as they deal with the past and face their future.”

The Fellows will meet with the EU Delegation after their return to present their individual projects focused on strengthening the media institutions where they work:

  • Edmund Kagire’s project focuses on strengthening access to information with the aim of boosting transparency, accountability and freedom of expression in Rwanda. A study will identify gaps in the current ATI regime and will provide recommendations for a more effective implementation and application of the existing law.
  • Olivier Ngabirano is developing a strong network for investigative journalism to support accountability, justice and human rights in Rwanda. The network will provide capacity building for journalists, and financially support and advise journalists in producing investigative stories.
  • Marie Louise Uwizeyimana’s project aims at strengthening the Rwandan Media Union to improve journalists’ working conditions. A series of meetings will be convened with media owners, journalists, union representatives, and government and media stakeholders to raise awareness of the importance of the Rwandan Media Union.
  • Gonzaga Muganwa’s project will improve the advocacy capacity of the Rwanda Journalists Association to increase press freedom in Rwanda. Suggested activities include the organisation of roundtables and consultative meetings among media opinion leaders and the development of a training curriculum on a journalists’ code of conduct, as well as the analysis of Rwandan media laws.
  • Ingabire Egidie will work to empower women in the media sector by increasing the female presence in newsrooms. The project is targeting young Rwandans at high school to generate interest in the media and journalism profession. The project will also collaborate with schools and parents to improve support for girls who wish to pursue a career within the media sector.

The programme in Copenhagen will be followed by four months of mentoring provided by the Fellowship Coordinators to support Fellows’ ongoing efforts to share knowledge, experience and inspiration within their own organisations and across the media sector. Fellowship Coordinator Mogens Blicher Bjerregård says:

On the return to daily life and challenges in Rwanda it can be difficult for Fellows to find time and local support to implement their new ideas inspired by the programme in Denmark. Thus, it is extremely important to assist the Fellows in maintaining the energy to implement their projects. This is why remote mentoring and coaching by the coordinators will take place regularly until the end of the project, when we will follow-up with a final mission to Rwanda to support the fellows and their projects in Rwanda”.

The first Media4Democracy fellowship was carried out in collaboration with the EU Delegation in Tanzania in 2018. The next fellowship is planned with the EU Delegation to Kyrgyzstan and will launch with an assessment mission to Bishkek in May to review the media institution landscape and identify potential Fellows.