Through her ICFJ Knight Fellowship, Catherine Gicheru created the Africa Women Journalism Project (AWJP), a network of female journalists and data analysts who team up to produce data-driven coverage of underreported health, gender and economic issues.
As director of AWJP, Gicheru leads a team of editors, mentors, data specialists and designers who work with journalists in seven countries – Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. AWJP offers training and support to improve the skills of African women journalists. It also provides members with opportunities to work collaboratively on cross-border journalism projects that highlight neglected issues and communities. AWJP’s 34 fellows have produced over 150 stories, videos and graphic explainers on underreported issues.
“The Africa Women Journalism Project is a network of women journalists that aspire to change the narrative that surrounds women,” said Gicheru in a video featuring two AWJP fellows from Senegal.
Gicheru aims not only to increase women’s representation in the news but also to elevate women as leaders in newsrooms, which are often dominated by men. Through intensive training and mentorship, the AWJP fellows are improving their journalism and becoming agents of change in their communities and workplaces.
Sira Sow, who created the first radio program on gender-based violence in Ndoffane, Senegal, said that she was able to develop an online radio station on YouTube thanks to the support of the fellowship. “There are people who come tell us that these reports are very important because they’ve allowed them to really know what gender-based violence is,” Sow said.
The AWJP fellowship allowed Fatou Warkha, the founder of a content production platform in Senegal focused on women’s rights, to participate in specialized trainings, including data-journalism workshops that allowed her to add important data to her stories about violence against women.
“The AWJP network: you join, you never leave,” said Gicheru. “You are part of a big family and growing family.”
Gicheru has been an ICFJ Knight Fellow since 2016. Earlier in her fellowship, Gicheru led a panAfrican women’s data journalism network, WanaData ("daughters of data" in Swahili). “I really value the fellowship because it has given me the opportunity to try, fail, succeed,” she said.