The Samoa Observer won three of seven awards at the inaugural Increased Political Participation of Women in Samoa (I.P.P.W.S) Media Awards for Excellence in Gender-Sensitive Election Reporting last night.
Reporters, Lanuola Tusani Tupufia and Sarafina Sanerivi won awards in the print category of the competition with the Samoa Observer recognised by the United Nations Development Programme and UN Women for the “Most outstanding News Outlet” in terms of gender sensitive reporting.
The awards were presented by UN Resident Coordinator, Lizbeth Cullity. The Editor of the Samoa Observer, Mata’afa Keni Lesa, accepted the award on behalf of the Samoa Observer.
The awards ceremony was held at the S.T.A Fale. It was attended by Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa and Members of Parliament, Faimalotoa Kika Stowers and Gatoloaifaana Amataga Gidlow.
Two awards for broadcasting and interviews with women election candidates went to Talamua Media and its journalist Lagi Keresoma. Veteran broadcaster, Va’asiliega Iupati was also recognised for his work on Radio 2AP with a series of talk back programmes with women candidates.
The awards recognize journalists and media outlets for coverage that is not only balanced, but also challenges gender stereotypes and raises awareness about the importance of women’s political participation and representation.
Vice Chancellor of the National University of Samoa, Professor Fui Asofou So'o, congratulated all the award winners.
“First of all I must congratulate the winning journalists whose hard work will be recognized tonight through the first I.P.P.W.S media awards for excellence in gender sensitive election coverage in Samoa,” he said.
“Such initiative aims to promote best in journalism practices and sets professional standards for others to follow.
“In an effort to ensure future journalists and current media professionals are best prepared and equipped to impart the learned knowledge through their reporting on gender equality in politics.”
The vice chancellor then touched on some stereotypes that Samoa faces.
“Stereotypes are prevalent in every day media; women are often portrayed solely as homemakers and carers of the families and dependent on men or as objects of male attention,” he said.
“As such there is a link of participation of women in media and improvements in their representation; One could argue that men are also subjected to stereotyping in the media; they are typically characterized as powerful and dominant.
“There is little room for alternative visions of masculinity; the media tends to demean men in caring or domestic roles and those who oppose violence.
“Such portrayals can influence perceptions in terms of what society can expect from men and women but also what they can expect from themselves, they promote imbalanced visions of the roles of women and men in society.” According to the vice Chancellor, Media plays a vital role on the topic of gender equity.
“Media practitioners have to understand this in order to be able to play and effective role in gender equality,” he said.
The evening was hosted by UN Women’s Country Programme Coordinator, Suisala Mele Maualaivao.
Some 26 entries were submitted from the local media.