Mirriam Wakini Njogu

Category: Young journalist

Country/area: Kenya

Organisation: The Star Newspaper and People Daily – with the editorial help of Code for Africa (proof-reading, editing and data visualisation)

Organisation size: Small

Cover letter:

I am a 27-year-old freelance data journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya. I am enthusiastic and passionate about telling health, gender and human rights stories. I have been a communications professional for the past five years, with a focus on Communication for Development. In mid-2018, I decided to channel my passion for storytelling for organizations to storytelling using data for mainstream media. I am a member of WanaData-KE (a Code for Africa project), a network of female journalists working on changing the media landscape by producing and promoting data-driven news. It is through their monthly trainings and editorial support that I have grown so much and gained exposure as a data journalist.

My approach to news reporting has been solutions journalism, where I don’t just focus on the problem, I look into the responses, solutions and alternative means to solving social issues. In 2020, I am extending my scope to producing audio content where I’ll create thought-provoking documentaries on gender and human rights abuses. I am inspired by Outlook and Tech Tent podcasts. both produces by the BBC World Service.

I am currently a resident at the Aga Khan University Media Innovation Center in Nairobi under DEBUNK, a new digital media start up that is working on shaping storytelling around Africa. I contribute in the team as a data journalist.

For the one year and a half that I have worked as a freelance data journalist, I have encountered several challenges, the main being outdated/unavailability of data, and refusal by newsrooms around Kenya to pay for quality work done by freelancers. This, however, has not deterred me. Instead, I have used my work to leverage for media opportunities and work on growing my brand, as I fight for better wages for my fellow freelance journalists. My mentors, Catherine Gicheru (ICFJ Knight fellow and Head, Code for Kenya) and Naima Mungai (WanaData Lead, Code for Africa) keep me grounded and have supported me editorially throughout this journey.

I am excited for the stories I plan on covering this year around Intersex Persons, Female Genital Mutilation, Adolescent Parenthood, and much more. I am also excited about the online courses that I have lined up; starting with Investigative Reporting in the Digital Age from the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.

Description of portfolio:

Project 1 – Human Traffickers Ride on Desperation of Job Seekers Kenya is one of the countries with a high unemployment rate. This leads to job seekers looking for opportunities in the Gulf, and their experiences abroad are more saddening than encouraging. It is sad to note that unemployment, above anything else, makes Kenyans vulnerable to trafficking. 15.6% of these trafficking victims have attained University education. My article highlighted some of the human trafficking red flags they can look out for when seeking jobs, both locally and abroad. This was also a call to the government to take charge and deal categorically with these two issues that are interlinked; unemployment and Trafficking in Persons. According to the 2019 Trafficking in Persons report, Kenyan authorities are accused of penalizing victims for crimes they have been compelled to commit by their trafficker due to inadequate screening for trafficking indicators among vulnerable groups. More needs to be done to ensure that Kenyans do not feel the need to travel to the Middle East in search of green pastures. And even if they do, their safety shouldn’t be compromised. The biggest challenge was that data on trafficking is outdated and scarce. However, this article has been presented in Trafficking workshops w Project 2 – Anguish of Working Breastfeeding Mothers As the world pushes for exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a newborn’s life, it’s regrettable to note that only a few Kenyan employers have established breastfeeding facilities at their workplaces. No government office has a designated breastfeeding area, including the Parliament. According to a research by Philips, 52% of working women in Kenya resume work within three months after birth, contributing to a rapid decrease in breastfeeding rates. The Government of Kenya enacted the Health Act, 2017 which requires all employers to support working women to breastfeed at work by establishing lactation stations However, a huge number of institutions have not complied, which means that for the majority of the women who return to work after maternity leave, there are few sanitary places to express breast milk if they want to continue breastfeeding. Some opt to wait until they get home to breastfeed, thereby putting their health and their babies’ wellbeing at risk. This article aimed at challenging the government to implement the Health Act, to challenge institutions to create lactation stations, and to also challenge archaic beliefs about breastfeeding, such as perceptions that breastfeeding is a domestic matter and should not be accommodated in the workspace. Project 3 – Wage Implications of Menstrual Health Management In 2017, Kenya’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta signed the Basic Education Amendment Bill, which would ensure that the government provides free, sufficient and quality sanitary towels to every girl registered and enrolled in a public basic education institution and has reached puberty. Two years later, still, girls in rural areas and urban slums miss school since they can’t afford sanitary products. With the help NGOs who visit schools within slums areas to donate sanitary products to girls above the age of 12, the number has significantly reduced. A harsh reality is that girls who do not attend school due to lack of school fees cannot access these free products. The aim of this article was to show how low wages (in the informal sector) lead to women neglecting proper Menstrual Health Management due to other pressing financial needs. Employers should evaluate the whole economic situation and offer better wages in order for families to meet these needs. The article was also a call to the government and its partners to stop taking Menstrual Health Management as an

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