UCU, AIIJ to host special international women’s day celebrations

By John Semakula

The Uganda Christian University School of Journalism, Media and Communication and the African Institute for Investigative Journalism (AIIJ) will host special celebrations to mark this year’s International Women’s Day. This will be in form of a dialogue made of a women’s panel. 

The celebrations targeting female journalists in Uganda will take place on Monday, March 7, at Uganda Christian University’s (UCU) main campus in Mukono on the theme “Women and Investigative Journalism: An Untapped Opportunity.”  It will be graced by top journalists, academics and media managers, including Raymond Mujuni, an investigative journalist and the Deputy, Director at AIIJ, who will host the panel discussion. International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8.

During the event at UCU, AIIJ will show a special film titled, “A Thousand Cuts” that chronicles President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on the Press in the Philippines and the spread of disinformation, plus the life of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize winner, investigative journalist, Maria Ressa, and how she goes against all odds to hold the powerful in the country accountable. 

Later, a panel of senior female journalists and communication scholars in Uganda will discuss issues related to investigative journalism and the role of women in the field. These include; Dr. Anette Kezaabu- Head of Post Graduate Studies, School of Journalism, Media and Communication, Anna Reisman- Country Representative, KAS Uganda and South Sudan, Cecilia Okoth- Multimedia investigative journalist at New Vision, Dr. Patricia Litho- Communication Specialist and Trainer,  and Gillian Nantume- Journalist at Daily Monitor.

The event marks the beginning of a long-term partnership between the School and AIIJ in training investigative journalists. The two institutions are also expected to use the event to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) sealing the partnership.

Investigative journalism plays a key role in enhancing accountability and good governance, which are pre-requisites for democracy and development. While AIIJ is renowned for its practical skills and award-winning experience in investigative journalism, UCU, being a training institution, brings to the table the conceptual aspects, research, and training skills. We, therefore, see the potential for collaboration in areas such as internship, research, visiting lectureship, teaching short courses and partnerships in securing scholarships for investigative journalism at MA and Ph.D. level at UCU.

Prof. Monica Chibita, the Dean of the School.

On his behalf, the executive director of AIIJ, Solomon Serwanjja said the celebrations at UCU are intended to commend the job and efforts by the school to advance investigative journalism in Uganda. “We also intend to use the event to encourage and interest female journalists to pursue this form of journalism. We believe that the film which we are going to show is a classic example of how far women investigative journalists can be part of public interest mission and break systematic barriers to women in investigative journalism,” Serwanjja said. “We believe that together we can pass investigative journalism mindset, skillset, and toolset to the next generation of female investigative journalists.”

UCU students of journalism showcase a production, during the launch of the FJMC, which has since been elevated into a school in 2019. Courtesy.

Until the start of this year, the UCU School of Journalism operated as a Faculty with two departments, Strategic Communication; and Journalism and Media Studies. But late last year, the University Council approved the Faculty’s elevation to a school’s status, erasing the old departments and introducing two new ones: Postgraduate and Undergraduate Studies. 

With an enrollment of over 400 students before Covid-19 struck in 2020, the school is growing rapidly, with prospects of starting a Ph.D. programme within the next one year. This will be one of the few in the East African region. 

In 2021, UCU in partnership with NLA University College, University of Kwazulu Natal, and University of Rwanda, won the highly competitive NORHED II grant worth sh7.9b to start the Ph.D. at the School.