More Female Voices in the Press // The Center for Journalistic Investigations has launched a database of female experts from Moldova, Ukraine, Armenia, and Georgia

Tatiana Gherța

The Center for  Investigative Journalism from Moldova (CIJM) launched an interactive database on Tuesday, November 21, featuring contacts of female experts in various fields. The WIJN database includes information and contact details of experts from four countries: the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, and Armenia. This new tool, dedicated to journalists, was developed within the Women Investigative Journalist Network - WIJN, with the support of International Media Support from Denmark. Experts present at the launch event welcomed the initiative of the Club of Investigative Journalists and emphasized the importance of maintaining gender balance in the media.

At the time of the launch, the database contains information on 39 experts from the Republic of Moldova, trained in different fields, and over 70 experts from Ukraine, Georgia, and Armenia. Cornelia Cozonac, the president of CIJM, mentioned that the selection of experts to be included in the database is based on criteria of professionalism and notoriety, taking into account the availability of women to be contacted by journalists, and permission to publish personal data andcontact information.

The site features a simple structure. Depending on the field of interest, users can enter a keyword in the "Search Expert" box, and the search engine will generate information about experts in the requested field.

In addition to identifying experts, the database can be supplemented. Alongside the contact details and portfolio information of the experts included in the WIJN database, the platform allows users to interact directly with the experts by sending online messages.

Experts from the fields of anti-corruption, health, education, and social assistance were invited to the discussions—a priority for a broader project conducted by CIJM and the Association of Independent Press, with the support of GIZ-Moldova and the European Union. The experts noted that this tool not only aims to present women who can provide expertise, arguments, and facts in specific fields but can also challenge stereotypes related to the role of women in society.

Ala Revenco, an expert in children's rights, anti-corruption, budget transparency, and combating corruption in the education system, and co-founder of the Public Association Solidar Parents, highlighted that in recent years there has been low interest from the mass media regarding the opinions of experts. Most of the time, the viewpoint of the authorities is presented, and the comments of the experts are left in the shadows.

Compared to a few years ago, the presence of experts on TV and radio has significantly decreased. It has become a tradition to call politicians, and experts are no longer invited to contradict what the authorities say. This must be corrected to return to the format in which both politicians and civil society are present on shows. Women are in demand in print media and news portals; here, we are in demand. We spend our time on a voluntary basis. For me, it's a surprise; it really deserves to be such a database. (...) I also come with a suggestion to TV and radio to hold debates and invite civil society to the topics they address," said Ala Revenco.

"Today, medicine needs experts. Our patients search Google for information about the illnesses they have and look for self-treatments there. We have researchers with useful, up-to-the-minute information. Today, the problems are not only about treatment. We lack the culture to prevent some diseases. Today the argument is still valid: 'I heard from a neighbor.' Non-professionals, without medical education, are often lost in this sphere, and it's a seriuos problem. It is welcome to have more health experts," remarked the public health expert, Doctor of Medical Sciences, Luminița Suveica.

"Changing stereotypes related to the role of women in society. In this field, it is much wider. I will recommend more experts to apply to this portal. Social assistance is a feminized field, but they are little promoted. It is necessary that, especially in the context of social protection reform, women should be involved. The presence of female experts in the media will allow a change in approach. The presence of women is too little. This is an indicator related to the rights of women and men in the Republic of Moldova," remarked the expert in the field of social policies, Anastasia Oceretnii.

The expert in public finance and management, budget transparency, and anti-corruption, Tatiana Savva, argued that the reason why women are less present in the public space is due to the fact that their commitments differ from those of men.

"During the last 13 years as an expert, I was lucky to have good collaboration with the mass media. My submissions were not for ratings but were based on the fact that I had proven experience in what I did throughout the year. Everything was based on facts, data, legislation, and arguments about what could be done better. Why don't women make it to TV in the evening? Basically, because we have other commitments and roles. Understanding the challenges is not necessarily possible, and there is one more element: when you get on TV, you need to look good. I participated in shows with politicians where I brought added value. It should be noted that researching any topic takes time. This is not about gender discrimination, but what does HE/HER expert mean? Who are they, and what have they shown over the years? It's a challenge of time, commitments, money, and budgets, but also the way the media works at the moment. It is easier for us to send a message by email; I think this can be done with the help of popularizing this database," said Savva.

Through the platform, journalists can access and request information, including from experts from Ukraine, Georgia, and Armenia. The project's authors appealed to the users of the platform to fill the database with new names that are of interest to the general public and for the expertise they have in various fields.

The database was developed within the framework of the Women Investigative Journalists Network (WIJN) - the Network of Investigative Journalists from the countries of the Eastern Partnership, by the Center for Investigative Journalism from Moldova (CIJM) together with the Institute for Regional Press Development in Ukraine, Monitor-Studio from Georgia and Media Initiative from Armenia, with support from International Media Support (IMS) from Denmark.

The Club of Investigative Journalists took place within the Project "Consolidating a Network of Investigative Journalists in the Republic of Moldova and Increasing their Capacity to Investigate Corruption Cases" carried out by the Center for Journalistic Investigations and the Independent Press Association, with the support of the project "Strengthening the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Mechanisms in the Republic of Moldova", co-financed by the European Union, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and implemented by the German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ).

Tatiana Gherța

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