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how the media misrepresents Ghana
The media today is prone to reporting stereotypes about developing countries. This kind of coverage far outnumbers fact-based coverage, making it difficult to filter out false information. Yet the public must rely on the media to provide non-domestic news. Therefore, should the media be tainted with misinformation, the public outlook will also be tainted, and one of the most misrepresented places in the world is Africa’s west coast.

News Reports Do Not Match Personal Experiences

Adrian Heath, a rising senior at Colgate University, recently studied abroad in Ghana during his junior year. In his descriptions of Ghana, it was clear how his perceptions had changed over time. He spoke to The Borgen Project about his mindset before departure: “I had all of the typical stereotypes in my head like poverty and AIDS. I expected to see a lot of beggars.” Heath’s head had been filled with images and stories from how the media misrepresents Ghana and other African nations.

His perception changed upon his arrival country-side. Almost immediately, he realized how skewed his perception had been. “We went out in the city and some parts were so beautiful it really surprised me… It could have been any American city.” His preconceived notions were whisked away with the beauty of Ghanaian life.

He said that there are a lot of “great spots for tourism” in Ghana, a landscape littered with beautiful beaches and resort locations. Accra is a coastal city, perfectly situated to host tourists who are interested in experiencing Ghanaian culture. The irony is that people avoid visiting due to the negative portrayal of Africa, missing out on a chance to have a positive experience in Ghana.

Ghanaians React to How the Media Misrepresents Ghana

Ghanaians are aggrieved by how the media misrepresents Ghana. Ismail Akwei, a journalist for Africa News, analyzed Ghanaian reactions to an article published by CNN. In the article, Ghanaians are portrayed as “struggl[ing] to obtain food and day-to-day services. Rolling blackouts are common and citizens often stand in long line [sic] to obtain products.”

The people of Ghana quickly turned to Twitter to express their disgust at the negligent reporting, utilizing the hashtag #CNNGetItRight. One user, Kafui Dey, tweeted: “Ghanaians are not struggling to obtain food. We are not standing in long lines to obtain products. I know. I live here.” Another Ghanaian, Nana Ama Agyemang, tweeted: “Such lazy coverage of a fantastic story by @CNN. No nuance, just the usual template ‘Africans are suffering’.”

Ghanaians have also been expressing their disdain for their elected officials, who do nothing to reverse how the media misrepresents Ghana. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was elected on a platform of change. In an open letter to the president that was published by Ghana News, Dr. Elvis Asiedu Afram pleaded for the president to enact some of the change he had promised, writing, “Mr. President, nine months after your historic assumption of office, it has become increasingly tedious to defend the change we proudly supported and campaigned for…. What was the change message about if things were to remain the same?”

Change Comes from Within Ghana

The peoples’ cries were heard when the president publicly endorsed a plan to increase Ghana’s domestic commerce, a move that would help gain independence from foreign aid and empower Ghana as a nation. An article on Ghana’s official presidency website quoted the president as saying, “Government is empowering the private sector to create jobs and wealth by working closely with industry and academia to equip young professionals with the skills required to operate competitively in the sector.”

While speaking with The Borgen Project, Heath mirrored the views of President Akufo-Addo, that Ghana needs to establish a means of domestically manufactured income in order to take care of its own and step out from beneath the shadow of colonialism. Heath was enthusiastic in his hope that this would eventually become a reality. His many interactions with emphatic Ghanaians whose love for their way of life give him hope for the future. “[As a foreigner] everyone you meet asks if you liked their country. They want you to appreciate their culture. They want you to see the beauty as they do.” There is much to appreciate about Ghana if the media chooses to shine a light on it.

– Zach Farrin
Photo: Flickr

How the Media Misrepresents South Sudan
South Sudan has spent the last five years locked in brutal civil war. A quick Google search regarding South Sudanese current affairs indicates how the media misrepresents South Sudan. It’s clear that the global news cycle focuses heavily on the darkest moments of this conflict. Al Jazeera’s South Sudanese frontpage is plastered with the following soundbites: “South Sudan: Aid Agencies Struggle to Reach those in Need,” “‘Sick and Hungry’: The Human Cost of South Sudans Civil War,” and “Maternal Death Rates in South Sudan One of World’s Highest.” Similarly, the New York Times starkly reminds its audience that in South Sudan “A Never-Ending Hunger Season Puts Millions in Danger.”

Clearly, the South Sudanese civil war has caused a great deal of suffering. Generally, though, large news agencies provide less airtime to cover the good and instances of perseverance that exist in the face of this struggle. Without paying close scrutiny to such hope-filled details, it’s not difficult to see how the media misrepresents South Sudan. It’s difficult to realize that amongst the seemingly endless stories of pain there are moments of hope. Here are a few examples.

South Sudanese Youth Soccer

In the winter of 2018, the South Sudan Football Association (SSFA) held a youth tournament in Juba, a major South Sudanese city. The event took place over the course of series of days, one of which was national Unity Day — a South Sudanese holiday dedicated to the promotion of togetherness in the country.

Maria Dudi, the minister of sport in South Sudan, had high hopes for the event, saying “The main objective of National Unity Day is to promote the integration of diverse populations through sports of fair play and sportsmanship.” The event was supported by Japanese International Cooperation Agency, a branch of the Japanese government dedicated to developmental assistance in struggling countries.

On May 18, the Facebook page for the SSFA posted regarding intensified efforts to train a new cadre of young referees so that they are capable of operating on the world stage. These efforts, alongside youth tournaments, indicate a renewed hopefulness that South Sudan’s passion for soccer can be used as a vehicle for cooperation and global recognition.

Natural Resources

South Sudan currently faces tremendous economic challenges that are only compounded by the presence of guerrilla warfare throughout the country. Despite this, South Sudan possesses significant potential for economic development due to its abundance of natural resources.

South Sudan houses large oil reserves and vast resource-rich forests. This abundance of resources further highlights how the media misrepresents South Sudan — it’s uncommon for large-scale news agencies to remind their audiences of the economic potential of a nation supposedly destitute and wartorn.

At present, foreign involvement in South Sudan primarily focuses on humanitarian aid rather than investment, as immediate civilian welfare is the highest priority. With the help of the U.N., and the stability provided by eventual peace conferences, South Sudan has the resources to garner the attention of foreign investment, which in turn could slowly bolster its economy.

Promise of Peace Talks

A variety of major players in the African world have stepped in to contribute to South Sudanese peace efforts. Kenyan politician Raila Odinga has offered to mediate and broker peace talks between South Sudan’s rival constituents, with the aid of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). Odinga has plans to meet separately with each constituent prior to any official peace conference. South Sudanese president Salva Kiir has been openly receptive to the notion of a peace conference with his rebel rival, Dr. Riek Machar.

Additionally, the U.N. has entered the fray and imposed a June 30th deadline for the talks. Another deadline looms ahead on July 1, which is the African Union Summit slated to be held in Mauritania. While the past few years have housed a number of recent failed South Sudanese peace talks, these recent events hold a renewed sense of positive momentum and hope for the future.

– Ian Greenwood
Photo: Flickr

how the media misrepresents West Bank and GazaAn online search for “Gaza and the West Bank” will return stories of conflict, poverty and despair. For years, the media, because of continued Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the strip, have amplified a one-sided, highly critical rhetoric of Gaza. This rhetoric is true — it is hard to find positives in the war-stricken region.

But there is another part left out of the story — hope. Gaza may be politically complicated and messy, but its people and their will to improve life are not.

Voices of Gaza

The narratives found in Gaza and the strip’s economic progress show how the media misrepresents West Bank and Gaza. For example, let’s look at The Guardian’s interview with school children in the region.

While acknowledging the political tension in the area, they continue to remain cheerful and hopeful for a better future. One child says, “I would like to be a doctor so that I can treat kids from my country.” Another wants to address infrastructure, while a third wants to improve education. These children’s dreams are representative of hope for a better and more improved home not shown in media outlets.

Hope for Stability

This hopefulness may be indicative of future change. Currently, the age structure of the Gaza strip’s population has roughly 94 percent of the population under 54 years of age. As this younger generation ages, their dreams and aspirations will be shaped by the adverse conditions they live in. A willingness to change the status quo and improve life demonstrates hope, which may go a long way in restoring stability to the region.

Hope is not limited to just children. During Eid, the Muslim holiday, fireworks and joyful celebrations continue to take place. In the midst of the cities’ rubble stands the resilient spirit of Gaza’s residents. The people continue to go on with life, waiting out internal conflicts between Hamas and Fatah and external political conflicts with Israel.

Gaza’s Economic Improvements

Aside from U.N.-based aid, Gaza has also emphasized improving its economic conditions, showing yet another way how the media misrepresents West Bank and Gaza. Recent conflict has eroded much of decade-long progress, however, and since 2000, the strip had shown signs of promise with GDP growth rates surging towards 26 percent near 2004.

Fast growing sectors such as information and communications technology had seen increases of 20 to 30 percent. The economic outlook of Gaza seemed positive to say the least. Years later, the economy has been hit hard by conflict, but the strip remains vigilant in its effort to rebuild and modernize.

Efforts to Revive the Strip

Investors, despite adverse economic climates from war, have increased consumer projects in the past decade with goals of reviving the strip. It is easy to see how the media misrepresents West Bank and Gaza with its constant display of war-torn buildings and destroyed streets. Malls, coffee shops, and up-scale restaurants all exist in the conflict-stricken area.

As Peter Hitchens, a journalist in Gaza wrote in 2010, “Can anyone think of a siege in history, from Syracuse to Leningrad, where the shops of the besieged city have been full of Snickers bars and Chinese motorbikes, and where European Union and other foreign aid projects streams of cash (often yours) into the pockets of thousands?”

Today, the world has changed from Hitchens’ experience in 2010, but the Snickers bars and Chinese motorbikes exist. The media have ensured we are well aware of recent developments between Israel and Palestinian militant groups. But in order to move forward, belief that good can come about from a harrowing scenario is necessary.

– Mrinal Singh
Photo: Flickr

how the media misrepresents Timor-Leste
Timor-Leste is repeatedly referred to as a “tiny half-island nation of 1.2 million.” It is framed as an “impoverished country” that has fallen prey to the resource curse that so often afflicts countries with an oil-dependent economy. In the context of its current political transition, skepticism abounds regarding the country’s ability to rise above the temptations of corruption and combat the country’s high poverty rates.

Despite High Poverty, Timor-Leste Has Made Great Progress

Such media coverage fails to take into account the notable progress being made by this newly autonomous country. In order to avoid detracting from this progress, it is essential to garner an understanding of how the media misrepresents Timor-Leste —a nation whose independence was only recently obtained, after the turn of the 21st century. After centuries of Portuguese colonial occupation, the Timorese fought valiantly for their independence, only to be occupied by Indonesian forces nine days later. This period of occupation lasted a little over a quarter of a century. In May 2002, Timor-Leste gained its independence.

Nearly two decades later, the media repeatedly employs statics in order to evaluate how the newly independent country is functioning. These statistics include a 40 percent poverty rate accompanied by a 60 percent unemployment rate. Highlighting standalone statistics is an example of how the media misrepresents Timor-Leste. This practice becomes problematic because these statistics are not representative of the progress being made.

While a poverty rate of 40 percent may appear grim, this statistic fails to account for the vast decline in poverty since 2001, which was an astonishing 71 percent. In a little over a decade, the number of people living in poverty dropped by roughly 44 percent. The poverty rate statistic also fails to represent the declining numbers of undernourished people. Between 2005 and 2007, the rate was 34 percent; by 2014, the rate was at 28.8 percent.

Despite its progress, the Timorese government does acknowledge that its poverty rates remain high. To combat this, Timor-Leste has partnered with the Asian Development Bank in order to invest in infrastructure. These large investments are being put towards road development, supplying clean water to urban centers and vocational education.

The Media Misrepresents Timor-Leste by Ignoring Its Peaceful Transitions of Power

Rather than reporting on the progress made by these development initiatives, the news about Timor-Leste focuses on the uncertainty—and in some cases violence—surrounding the recently held elections. This uncertainty is the result of the country’s history of frequent political instability. Particularly in 2006, political instability had disastrous consequences. That year, the prime minister was forced to resign from his post. His resignation was the outcome of expansive rioting that resulted in 150,000 deaths and displacements. It is natural that the Timorese would be concerned about a repeat of these events.

However, Giteroano Neves, a Timor-Leste policy analyst, points out that the political climate at that time was very different from the one today. Timor-Leste had just emerged from internal conflict and was experiencing an unexpected influx of oil revenues. Since then, Neves states that the country has been relatively stable.

From 2017 to 2018, the Freedom House Organization updated Timor-Leste’s freedom status from “partly free” to “free.” One of the factors influencing this change in status was the successful 2017 presidential and primary elections, in which the country amicably transferred power between political parties for the second time since independence. According to a European Union observer mission, the elections were “peaceful and generally well administered.” Furthermore, the winning parties are united on the next steps for the country.

The 2018 winning coalition, called the Parliamentary Majority Alliance, is comprised of both the National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction and the newly formed People’s Liberation Party (PLP). The PLP promotes investment in the basic needs of the people such as roads, water access, education and healthcare. The party as a whole is also in support of the investment in larger infrastructure projects, such as the South Coast Petroleum Corridor.

Economic Development a Bright Spot in Timor-Leste’s Future

Timor-Leste’s economy is highly dependent on its oil economy, which currently funds the vast majority of the state’s expenditures. However, oil revenues have been declining. Fortunately, the country was recently able to negotiate maritime borders with Australia, which provided Timor-Leste access to 70 to 80 percent of the Greater Sunrise gas field. Even with this acquisition, the country is expanding its efforts to grow other sectors of the economy, such as coffee and tourism.

By insistently reporting on Timor-Leste’s shortcomings, the media is overlooking the progress that is being made in the country. In order to avoid this oversight, poverty reduction supporters need to be aware of how the media misrepresents Timor-Leste. This misrepresentation detracts from the discussion on how current development endeavors could be made more effective. It fails to reveal an avenue in which external organizations can provide support for these development agendas. Worst of all, it demoralizes those working hardest to make improvements. Timor-Leste is still maturing; the focus should be on fostering this growth.

– Joanna Dooley
Photo: Flickr

Media Misrepresents GuyanaGuyana is a country abundant in coconut trees, sapodilla and spices. It is unique in its distance from the norms of the Caribbean and in not being racially unified. It also has one of the highest emigration rates in the world, partially due to high rates of poverty. Despite these downsides, the county has developed a strong sense of Indian and African cultures.

How the Media Misrepresents Guyana as Non-Caribbean

While Guyana is located at the tip of South America, the nation does not participate in Caribbean culture. One way the media misrepresents Guyana is that many Caribbean countries speak languages such as French and some form of Creole in addition to English, while Guyana citizens only speak English which is possibly why it is seen as an outcast.

In fact, Guyana is the only country in South America whose official language in English. This is due to Guyana being one of the only countries in the Caribbean that was under the rule of the British Empire. This also explains the demographics of the country: an almost even divide between Indians and Africans, stemming from the arrival of African slaves and Indian indentured servants. This means that the culture of a typical Guyanese may not specifically match that of someone from a country such as Barbados or Grenada.

However, many of the concepts of daily life in Guyana are not foreign to the Caribbean. For instance, some of the most popular genres of music listened to are calypso, chutney and soca. Among these genres are artists such as Machel Montano, Sparrow and Ravi B. Once again, although there are differences between the prominent cultures of Guyana and the rest of the Caribbean, these rhythms offer a sense of connection and community among them.

Another aspect of life connecting Guyana to the Caribbean that is overlooked is food. Famous dishes that are part of everyday life include saltfish, curry, plantains and callaloo. The main reason why the media misrepresents Guyana is because, depending on the town, village and country, foods go by different names. For example, while Guyana knows an oft-used root as cassava, the Dominican Republic knows it as yucca. The same dishes are identified differently in separate areas of the Caribbean, causing the dishes to be seen as distinguished.

How the Media Portrays the Guyanese

On the other hand, another way the media misrepresents Guyana is by claiming the population is racially homogenous and unified. What the public fails to see is that the country is almost equally divided between Indo-Guyanese and Afro-Guyanese, but is also home to many other minorities such as Amerindians and Chinese. Approximately 40 percent of Guyana’s population is of East Indian descent, 30 percent is of African descent, 20 percent is mixed and 10 percent is Amerindian.

While there are political and social tensions between the groups over issues such as land, culture and governmental rule, what this array of cultures illustrates is that the country is able to combine all of them to create one unique nationality: Guyanese. This can also be related to why Guyana is commonly not seen as part of the Caribbean.

Additionally, this allows for the country to have multiple backgrounds, making its history rich and complex. For instance, when African slaves were forcibly brought to Guyana and refused to work, those of East Indian descent were brought from India as indentured servants. Meanwhile, Amerindians share the bloodline of the indigenous people of Guyana.

How the Media Fails to Show Guyana’s Progress

Keeping in mind the several groups that reside in Guyana, it must be noted that the country has one of the highest emigration rates in world at 55 percent. What this means is that 55 percent of Guyanese citizens live abroad in countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom. Currently, approximately two-thirds of Guyana’s population lives in poverty. This is due to the fact that many people citizens live in rural areas and must work as agricultural laborers, which does not provide sufficient profit because the country’s productivity is so low.

Again, despite this negative aspect, the media misrepresents Guyana by failing to report the positive efforts of the World Bank and the United Nations, clouding the country’s progression. In fact, currently, the World Bank is working to allocate funds toward the improvement of infrastructure, quality of health, education and water services in Guyana. Additionally, while the demographics of the indigenous groups of Guyana may be low, the U.N. is working to improve their financial means and stability, aiming to better their overall quality of life.

While Guyana is struggling in some areas, the country has developed strong individual cultures while also building a national identity. Furthermore, while there are high rates of poverty throughout Guyana, the country is taking steps toward improving the quality of life for citizens. Overall, Guyana’s strong sense of culture shows persistence, resilience and community.

– Jessica Ramtahal
Photo: Flickr

How the Media Misrepresents Myanmar
How does one remain faithful in the face of death? This is the question many Rohingya Muslims are currently faced with, both in Myanmar and in the refugee camps in surrounding countries to which they have scattered in the past two years. They are trying to survive amid governmental strife, warfare, abuse and trafficking since an acceleration of cultural oppression and threats that started in 2011.

Government military campaigns in Myanmar have caused more than 700,000 individuals to flee to refugee camps in search of safety and stability. While searching for safety and aid, women and children have reported gang rape and murders by military officials, and even exploitation in the countries they reached hoping to find help. Another 100,000 refugees fled the country to escape the inevitable harm of monsoon season. Even as they travel to receive aid, it is possible that they will at least be injured.

However, featuring this kind of information exclusively in news headlines is how the media misrepresents Myanmar. Citizens of Myanmar are actually living resilient and fulfilling lives with support and aid from humanitarian efforts. They are able to focus their energy on a bright future ahead.

Programs Helping Myanmar Youths and Families

In 2012, with the help of UNICEF, Myanmar began the “Seven Things This Year Initiative,” a project working with mothers and children to promote “key family health practices.” The project encouraged proper planning for each family. As of 2016, this project is being evaluated for sustainability; however, it has already benefited many displaced refugees and expectant mothers.

In 2018, training programs are providing opportunities for successful integration into communities by offering education and vocational training through apps. Residents participating in training can gain skills in business training, basic budgeting, English fundamentals and nutrition safety.

Only focusing on just one part of the population is also how the media misrepresents Myanmar. For example, another population misrepresented or underrepresented by media in Myanmar is the youth within the community. Resiliency training and practice is a priority focus for youth in the education system.

The Myanmar Red Cross Society has more than 44,000 volunteers, 1,300 of whom are active youth members. They assist with planning and participation in programming initiatives which promote safe learning facilities, proper healthcare, water and sanitation intervention, disaster management, school safety plans and exercises, risk reduction and resilience education. By doing this, Myanmar youth are encouraging engagement in the community and empowering future leadership within the country.

The Media Represents Myanmar by Not Reporting on Its Largest City

Focusing on the southern portions of the country, where most of the Rohingya crisis is located, is also how the media misrepresents Myanmar. While that crisis is highly relevant and impacting more than just the southern region, Yangon, which is highly populated and located in the northern part of the country, is currently thriving compared to years past, with a low percentage of poverty (16 percent) and positive record of births, sanitation and adequate nutrition.

Between 2018 and 2022, Myanmar is focusing on citizen’s health and nutrition, sanitation and hygiene, education, child protection, social policy and the monitoring of child rights. This focus will allow for proper access to healthcare, improved quality of life, the promotion of a safe, inclusive, and non-violent community, poverty reduction, recovery from violence and exploitation and establish welfare.

While in the midst of transition throughout the country, resilient Myanmar residents are seeking and finding opportunities that are empowering. Resiliency partnered with wisdom and discernment in their use of technology will light their path and empower their strength.

– Ashley Cooper
Photo: Flickr

Media Misrepresents Côte d’Ivoire
A good story can be hard to find. The term “good” is used here to mean positive or uplifting, and to find a “good” story reported about a developing country can require even further digging. The media misrepresents Côte d’Ivoire, and this can lead to uninformed conclusions about developing nations. Media outlets often correctly assume the tales that will catch public attention are only the ones of despair and depravity.

Côte d’Ivoire and France

Claimed by the French in 1893 during the European furor to divide Africa, Côte d’Ivoire’s people resisted occupation as colonizers imposed their culture and encouraged the planting of cash crops such as cocoa and coffee, thus beginning the exploitation of the country’s rich land and resources.

Côte d’Ivoire achieved independence from France in 1960. In the decades following, Côte d’Ivoire kept lucrative ties with its former colonizers, growing in economic wealth over the three-decade presidency of Félix Houphouët-Boigny. Since the 1990s, civil conflicts resulted in thousands of civilian and military casualties and the displacement of one million people.

There’ve been human rights and free speech violations, military mutinies, and the continuation of the illegal ivory trade. These are the stories that will barrage any search for information on Côte d’Ivoire.

Searching for the “Côte d’Ivoire”

If one sought out a better understanding of Côte d’Ivoire through mainstream media outlets, one’s sure to see a storm of instability and misfortune. Top search results from mainstream media sources paint a picture of toxic waste, violent uprisings and leaders committing war crimes. These misrepresentations box Côte d’Ivoire into a one-dimensional existence afforded to many African nations by first world lenses — primarily, one of chaos and dependence.

After the end of the First Ivorian Civil War, several thousand French and United Nations troops remained in the country to help implement the Ouagadougou Political Agreement. The United Nations Peacekeeping review for 2017 stated, “The collective efforts of our uniformed and civilian personnel have resulted in progress on the ground this year. We ended our operation in the Ivory Coast in June, where we have left behind a legacy of stability and peace after a presidential crisis in 2010 when some 3,000 Ivorians were killed and 300,000 became refugees.”

Presidential Progress

As of 2016, there has been measured progress in the realm of free speech and press. During Laurent Gbagbo’s presidency, much of the country’s media was state-produced to prevent criticism. In the first years of Alassane Ouattara’s presidency, the country’s media remained under the control of the state to keep media platforms closed to Gbagbo’s constituents who aimed to continue his crusade.

But in recent years, new spaces have been created for independent press and legislation. For instance, new legislation was drafted in 2016 to prohibit imprisonment of journalists and reduce fines for journalistic infractions. In December that same year, the broadcasting regulator in Côte d’Ivoire announced spaces would be open for private television stations; soon after this occurrence, four new privately-owned television channels were approved.

Cocoa and Economics

Côte d’Ivoire is the largest exporter of cocoa, producing more than twice as much as Indonesia, the next largest exporter. Encouraged by the French colonizers, Côte d’Ivoire devoted substantial land and resources to the production of cocoa. But after decades of farming, the nation’s aged trees and infertile soil made it susceptible to the effects of climate change.

To combat the destabilizing possibility of cocoa’s decline, the third-party organization Cocoa Life vowed to invest $400 million in educating and providing new technology to 200,000 cocoa farmers in the hope of one day reaching one million community members. The ultimate goal of the initiative is to have all the second largest chocolate producer Mondelēz International Inc.’s cocoa sustainably sourced.

By the end of 2017, Cocoa Life reached 120,500 cocoa farmers in 1,085 communities; this feat lead to sustainable sourcing of 35 percent of Mondelēz International’s cocoa.

Gender in Côte d’Ivoire

Côte d’Ivoire’s cocoa farming industry holds a 70 percent gender pay gap. Cocoa Life focuses on increasing women’s land ownership, promoting women leadership positions, and enrolling young women in youth-oriented programs improving their livelihoods through financial freedom and entrepreneurial skills.

Côte d’Ivoire’s gender statistics are sobering. In a country where agriculture is the major source of income only 18 percent of the land is owned by women; in rural areas, 75 percent of women live in poverty; and on top of all that financial debilitation, 36 percent of women in Côte d’Ivoire are victims of physical and/or psychological violence, including female circumcision.

In 2017, the Centre for Women Entrepreneurs of Attécoubé opened in the suburbs of Abidjan. At the opening, the U.N. Women’s Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka stated the center’s goals, “This center is a link between established and starting-up women entrepreneurs, and a chain of solidarity between the U.N., the Government, bilateral partners and civil society.”

Discovering Solidarity

President Ouattara officially joined the HeForShe global solidarity movement, and pledged to end female circumcision and support the end of all forms of violence against women by 2020.

The media misrepresents Côte d’Ivoire and innumerable other developing nations to pander to an audience who lusts for the sensationalization of the struggles of others to make them feel better about themselves. We should all do our part not to revel in decay, for it is all our responsibility to seek a full and well rounded portrait of those we do not know.

– Carolina Sherwood Bigelow
Photo: Flickr

media misrepresents Iraq
For more than a decade, Iraq has generated a lot of coverage across international news outlets. A large portion of this coverage continues to focus on the perilous security situation which continues to plague the country. Furthermore, extremist activities such as suicide bombings and other forms of armed conflict remain in the spotlight. Although these issues do exist, the media misrepresents Iraq by omitting its positive progress.

Media’s Focus on Iraq’s History of Conflict

In general, Iraq is viewed as a massive military blunder on the part of the United States and coalition forces. It is argued that after the removal of the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, the country further devolved into armed conflict among different factions, particularly ISIS and al-Qaida, who have continued to perpetuate violent activities in the region. In addition, increasing tensions between Kurdish forces and the Iraqi government are also highlighted. 

While it is true that Iraq’s economy, infrastructure and civilian population has been devastated by violence, there is reason for hope. Following the removal of Saddam Hussein, Iraq created the Council of Representatives (COR), a newly elected 275-member parliament. For the first time in more than half a decade, Iraq would have a democratically elected body. In April 2014, Iraq further expanded the COR to 328 members through a national legislative election. Also, the Iraqi people witnessed a peaceful transition of power from former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to new Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi. 

On June 10, 2014, The Washington Post reported that ISIS insurgents seized the Iraqi city of Mosul, leading to a retreat of Iraq’s security forces. Much of the coverage afterward would continue to focus on the atrocities carried out by ISIS in Iraq and Syria. In December 2017, the Iraqi government formally announced the defeat of ISIS in Mosul and other urban strongholds across the region. ISIS’ defeat is a major step in the stabilization of the current security situation in Iraq. 

Media Misrepresents Iraq with Inadequate Reporting on Economic Progress

The media’s continued coverage of major security issues is another way in which the media misrepresents Iraq. The current focus fails to recognize the positive changes Iraq has seen in multiple areas. For example, the mortality rate for children under five years of age has dropped by 23 percent since 2000.

Currently, oil refineries make up 90 percent of Iraq’s exports in the global economy. Recognizing this trend, the Iraqi government has signed major contracts with large companies in the petroleum industry. In an effort to seek foreign investment, Iraq has also begun to initiate sweeping institutional and economic reforms across the country. However, reporting on Iraq’s current economic status has been largely negative due to continued armed conflict. This is another way in which the media misrepresents Iraq. 

To aid in rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure and bolster economic growth, the U.S. and other countries have pledged a $30 billion line of credit for the country. In addition, Iraq is slated to receive roughly $199 million in foreign assistance from the U.S. for FY 2019. Continued foreign aid and an extended line of credit are essential for progress in the war-torn country. 

Iraq’s current status is often viewed negatively. Misrepresentation by the media overlooks many of the positive things Iraq has accomplished in recent years. These achievements provide a glance into a much brighter future for the country, one in which Iraqi citizens can experience a higher quality of life and greater economic opportunities. 

– Colby McCoy
Photo: Flickr

How the Media Misrepresents UgandaMany people believe Uganda to be a nation in tatters because of how the media misrepresents Uganda. This is most likely because Uganda has very little known about it aside from when things are going or have gone wrong for the nation. The truth is simple: Uganda, just like any other place in the world has had its share of problems. It’s had corruption, misfortune and hostility.

One of Uganda’s most pivotal alliances is with the United States. Uganda and the U.S. established diplomatic relations in 1962 after Uganda gained its independence from the United Kingdom.

In January 2018, the Ugandan government and agencies were condemned for the mistreatment of incoming refugees. Corruption from multiple corners of government was found and squashed by U.N. aid agencies.

Some of the people meant to help refugees find new homes made up “ghost” refugees to push up numbers for extra funding. There was also notable evidence of extortion of refugees from anything to goods and what little money they had to sexual acts.

Amb Pacifici has praised Uganda and its Prime Minister for continued efforts and communication during challenging times in regard to regional issues. Most recently, in Kampala, the Ministry of Education announced that it would launch a framework into better sexuality education for students. This furthers the knowledge of Uganda’s hopeful youth.

The Ministry acknowledges the importance of the young minds and hopes that this will help guide the country to a more enriched development from the ground up. The guidelines will also allow for the public schools to follow along with the private school teachings when teaching sexuality education. None of this is mentioned in U.S. media leading to further evidence of how the media misrepresents Uganda.

The United States focuses on the problems of Uganda in media and less on how Uganda is turning itself around. One article, in particular, stood out but there was very little coverage overall on Uganda in the U.S. media when searched. Miniscule coverage of the positives going on in Uganda and an emphasis on continued problems of the region is yet another example of how the media misrepresents Uganda.

A recent CNN article gave multiple examples such as “modern colonization” and “secret deals,” fueling continued greed and corruption in Africa which robs the people of culture.

There are always bound to be conflicts in other countries but conflicts only ever make up part of a country’s story of progression. The media continues to misrepresent the true potential of Uganda, adding confusion to conflict.

Uganda shouldn’t be written off or labeled as a lost cause but rather seen for its truth, for the strength of its people and their rich culture. No place or thing can be ignored if true progress is to take place.

– Gustavo Lomas
Photo: Flickr

How the Media Misrepresents KazakhstanKazakhstan, located in Central Asia, has long been viewed by the world as a post-communist, backward state — politically oppressive, economically regressive and socially intolerant. This image is an example of how the media misrepresents Kazakhstan, displaying it as a totally different world from that of developed Euro-American countries.

How the Media Misrepresents Kazakhstan

A close examination of the lives of people in Kazakhstan and of its actual political and economic situation, including the perspectives of diverse sources, reveals how the media misrepresents Kazakhstan, fueled by the after-effects of the Cold War. Many people, especially in the U.S., received misrepresentative information about Kazakhstan from the American comedy film “Borat,” a parody of Kazakhstan’s culture rather than an accurate portrayal.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s long-advocated approach of “economy first, political reforms later” is described by British human rights advocate Hugh Williamson as a visage of “economy first, political reforms never” instead. Williamson claims that Kazakhstan is moving politically backward with “no free elections, little permitted open speech and the government significantly represses human rights.”

Current Developments in Kazakhstan

However, slow but apparent democratic progress in Kazakhstan has been recorded. It has been previously hindered because of the state of total economic collapse after the breakdown of the Soviet Union in 1991. Since then, however, its economy has flourished and Kazakhstan is now an upper-middle-income country, according to the World Bank.

Democratic development in Kazakhstan includes the Secular Constitution established in 1995, which outlines a separation of powers of the executive, legislative and judicial branches. Elections were also delivered in a multiparty parliament in 2012.

Further Progress in the Nation

In early 2016, Kazakhstan launched the Fostering Productive Innovations Project in cooperation with the World Bank. This is where ongoing science commercialization projects based on international standards of scientific excellence and high commercialization potential were developed.

In addition, Kazakhstan launched its first ever five-year program for Digital Kazakhstan 2020 which aims at creating the “Digital Silk Road.” This will provide support for the development of digital infrastructure and invest in human capital.

How the media misrepresents Kazakhstan extends to the nation’s political, economic, social and technological development. It is easy to dispel these cultural myths about Kazakhstan after looking into this exotic land through the lens of objective historical and social analysis.

– Heulwen Leung
Photo: Google