African data journalism fund launches new contest for stories on gender equality and the challenges women face in accessing health care and services

African data journalism fund launches new contest for stories on gender equality and the challenges women face in accessing health care and services

Journalists in six African countries — South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria — can win a fully paid study tour to major United States newsrooms as part of a new impactAFRICA reporting contest.

impactAFRICA is seeking stories that shed light on the challenges women and girls face in accessing health care and health services, and solutions to improve the quality of life for them and their families.

Gender inequality is not just an abstract issue. It directly impacts the health and lives of women and girls across the continent, as well as societies and communities. According to UNWomen, 8 in 10 of all new HIV patients are women. Girls across Africa still suffer from a lack of proper sanitation at schools, contributing to a higher dropout rate than amongst boys. A lack of family planning contributes to preventable deaths of women and to keeping a family in poverty.

“African women are often the backbone of their communities and economies, but many of the health challenges they face — and the resulting impacts on society — remain underreported. Poor media coverage translates into poor public understanding of the issues,” explains impactAFRICA programme manager Haji Mohamed Dawjee. “We are therefore looking for stories that help demystify complex issues and give both citizens and policy makers actionable information for better decision-making.”

An independent international jury will choose winners in three categories: best community impact; best audience engagement; and best use of data. The winners will spend 10 days visiting newsrooms in three cities in the United States and learning from some of the world’s top digital media outlets.

Journalists who have published, broadcast or produced impactful stories on any platform and in any medium in at least one of the target countries during the period from November 15, 2016 to March 15, 2017. The best submissions will showcase solutions and offer evidence that the reportage has had a positive impact on policies or services.

impactAFRICA is the continent’s largest fund for data-driven investigative storytelling, offering $500,000 in cash grants and technology support, along with editorial mentorship, across a series of funding rounds for pioneering journalism that uses data or digital tools to tackle development issues such as public healthcare, water, sanitation, the effects of air and water pollution on African communities, climate change and its effects on farming communities and food baskets, and other development issues related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

“All impactAFRICA winners help shine a light on blind spots in our societies, using digital and data journalism to help expose under-reported issues in ways that give people information they can use to make better informed decisions,” says Code for Africa director, Justin Arenstein. “Our aim is to support journalism that engages and empowers people.”

Code for Africa, in partnership with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), underwrites impactAFRICA as part of a range of journalism initiatives designed to help African media prepare for a more digital future. Arenstein founded both Code for Africa and impactAFRICA as part of an ICFJ Knight Journalism Fellowship.

The Challenges of Women in Africa contest is the second topic-specific impactAFRICA competition. The first contest, which closed on the July 15, focused on water and sanitation issues. impactAFRICA also offers project grants for investigative data projects, with winners covering issues ranging from illegal fishing and maternal health challenges, to collusion in the funeral industry in Africa. The next call for investigative grant proposals will be in 2017.


The partners

Code for Africa (CfAfrica) is the custodian of impactAFRICA and is the continent’s largest independent open data and civic technology initiative. It operates as a federation of autonomous country-based digital innovation organisations that support ‘citizen labs’ in five countries and major projects in a further 15 countries. CfAfrica runs Africa’s OpenGov Fellowships and also embeds innovation fellows into newsrooms and social justice organisations to help liberate data of public interest, or to build tools that help empower citizens. In addition to fellowships and CitizenLabs, CfAfrica runs the $1 million per year innovateAFRICA fund and the $500,000 per year impactAFRICA fund, which both award seed grants to civic pioneers for experiments with everything from camera drones and environmental sensors, to encryption for whistleblowers and data-driven semantic analysis tools for investigative watchdogs. CfAfrica also curates continental resources such as theafricanSPENDING portal of budget transparency resources, the openAFRICA data portal, thesourceAFRICA document repository and the connectedAFRICA transparency toolkit for tracking the often hidden social networks and economic interests in politics. CfAfrica is an initiative of the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ).

International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) is at the forefront of the news revolution. Its programmes empower journalists and engage citizens with new technologies and best practices. ICFJ’s networks of reporters and media entrepreneurs are transforming the field. ICFJ believes that better journalism leads to better lives. Over the past 30 years, ICFJ has worked with more than 92,000 professional and citizen journalists and media managers from 180 countries. ICFJ work through strong local partners, such as Code for Africa, and a network of dedicated alumni. For more information, go to www.icfj.org.

This article was originally on impactafrica.fund on November 21st 2016.

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