Peru: "Women leadership starts with families encouraging girls to become leaders"

Nélida Maquera is a journalist at Radio Onda Azul and the president of the Puno Delegation of the National Association of Journalists (ANP) in Peru. On the occasion of International Women's Day, we talk with her about the political and social crisis the country has been going through since December 2022, how repression is affecting journalists, and the situation of women journalists in Peru.

Credits: Nélida Maquera

The ANP has registered more than 150 attacks on the media since December 2022, following the social and political crisis in the country. Could you explain how this outbreak has impacted the journalism community and, in particular, journalists in the Puno region?

Definitely, the excessive use of the armed forces in our country has led to limitations in news coverage by journalists and media workers. Official information about the events is very restricted. Furthermore, the negative attitude and distorted view that media outlets from the capital have about media and information from the provinces are framing all journalists and media outlets located far from the capital in a negative way. 

In the current situation of repression, are women journalists experiencing any specific threats or violence for being women?

At present, all (male and female) journalists face a similar situation of excessive use of force. The police and the military do not make distinctions. We are all attacked in the same way.

What safety advice would you give to women journalists reporting in contexts of repression and violence?

To be careful, to be fully identified as “press”, either with a badge and/or a vest. Above all, they must have the necessary legal knowledge in the event of a possible arrest: shout out your name and position, and indicate that an abuse is being committed by the military and/or police authorities.

What are the challenges facing women journalists in Peru and, in particular, in inland regions such as Puno?

As a woman journalist, the main challenge in my country is to continue adding courageous women journalists who are not afraid of making mistakes. In Puno, the most important thing  is to encourage my colleagues and make them feel supported. We are always ready to be at the forefront.

As a journalist and union leader, would you say that there are more and more women in leadership positions in the media and in unions? Are we moving in the right direction?

It is a constant struggle and it entails a lot of work, because women's leadership also starts with families encouraging girls to become leaders. There are definitely few women in leadership positions in the media and trade unions. There is still some fear, progress is slow.

Any message you would like to convey to women journalists around the world on the occasion of 8 March?

Every day, our journalistic work invites us to feel on an equal footing with men. Each day is important for us, because our message has a direct impact on society.

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