Despite everything that marred 2022, the New Year brings signs of hope, many originating in people fighting against the evils of war, poverty, and corruption, and who are advocating more just models of being and living together. WACC members and partners have a role to play in this struggle.
Despite some successes at COP 15 (biodiversity) and COP 27 (climate change), genuine safeguards for biodiversity and climate justice will still require long-term advocacy by communication practitioners to keep the issues in the public eye and to hold governments to account.
In Ukraine, a catastrophic war rages on, bringing destruction, depravation, and crimes against humanity. Less well known, however, is that six million people in the state of Tigray, Ethiopia, are facing mass starvation – with young children dying of acute malnutrition. More than 80% of hospitals and health centres have been damaged or destroyed and there are no ambulance services. Internet blackouts have added to the psychological torture faced by families desperate to hear from their loved ones. Both conflicts must remain visible in the media.
In Europe, radical-right movements are active in the political mainstream of Sweden, Italy, Hungary, Poland, and France. Over more than a decade, extremist views have been normalised so that they now dictate the terms of public debate on issues such as migration. Unfortunately, they also find a ready home on unregulated social media.
Nevertheless, there are of hope in the role played by independent news outlets that shine a spotlight on these and other worrying developments. There are signs of hope in the work of women authors such as Svetlana Alexievich, Margaret Attwood, Elena Ferrante, Toni Morrison, and Barbara Kingsolver. In 2022, Kingsolver published what might well be her Nobel-prize winning novel “Demon Copperhead”. It tells the story of social neglect and the impact of opioids in Southern Appalachia, which over the past three decades and more have devastated the lives of generations of kids.
WACC is in the business of discovering such signs of hope. It supports people and communities who are using their right to communicate to tell their stories. Looking ahead, we shall organize a series of online workshops on themes like digital justice – what is it all about? what can ordinary people do? – as well as initiating a new program studying media representations of violence against women and girls. We are also planning “conversation circles” on themes covered by WACC’s journal Media Development.
As an integral part of WACC, you are invited to join the clamour for greater social justice for women and men everywhere. You are the signs of hope!
Philip Lee, General Secretary. PL[at]waccglobal.org