Courage, compassion, and commitment in the face of challenges —these were demonstrated by the women journalists and researchers who shared their stories on March 8, International Women’s Day.
Organized by the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) and the Journalism & Media International Center (JMIC) at OsloMet, the online event “Challenges to the Safety of Women Journalists” was moderated by Elisabeth Eide, veteran journalist, writer, and professor of journalism studies. IAWRT president Violet Gonda opened the program, while Oona Solberg of OsloMet delivered the closing remarks.
The discussions revolved around the obstacles women journalists face in different parts of the world, and how they continue to stand up against threats and attacks. The momentous event brought together eleven speakers from Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East:
Oleksandra Hrybenko from Ukraine, a PhD student at the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at OsloMet in Norway
Inna Berezkina from Russia, speaking from exile, programme coordinator at the School of Civic Education
Najiba Ayubi, US-based Afghan journalist and activist for human rights and media freedom, Director General of DHSA/The Killid Group, and chapter head of IAWRT in Afghanistan
Kreshma Fakhri, Turkey-based journalist working with The Killid Group since 2009, reporting on corruption, human rights, violence against women and children, and civil war in Afghanistan
Birgitte Jallov from Denmark, Director of EMPOWERHOUSE, an initiative supporting community media and civil society organizations towards sustainability
Therese San Diego Torres, IAWRT Philippines Board Member and Research, Policy, and Advocacy Director at the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC)
Rand Sabbagh, Berlin-based Syrian feminist journalist and researcher and Deputy Director at the Syrian Women Journalists Network
Dr. Naila Hamdy from Egypt, associate professor at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at The American University in Cairo, Egypt, and associate dean for research and graduate studies at the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy (GAPP)
Raziah Quallateon Mwawanga from Tanzania, media expert, trainer, mentor and consultant, and member of IAWRT Tanzania, East African and Tanzania Editors Society and Forum, and Tanzania Media Women’s Association
Nabeelah Shabbir, British-Pakistani journalist based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and Senior Research Associate at the International Center for Journalists
Sonali Dhawan, researcher from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) who previously served as program officer with the American Bar Association Center for Human Rights
Among the highlights were the sharing of the speakers from Ukraine and Russia. With all eyes on their respective home countries, they talked about the experiences of journalists who stayed in Ukraine despite being targeted by the Russian army and facing threats of harassment and rape. They expressed their support for Russian journalists who continue to speak the truth amid the ban and shutdown of all independent media, and the detention, torture, and killing of journalists and human rights defenders.
During the program, participants also witnessed a performance by IAWRT Philippines member Marilyn Mirana, who sang “Easy to Lose Hope” against a backdrop of images of women displaying messages of support for journalists and media workers. The song was dedicated to Veronica Guerin, a crime reporter from Ireland who was murdered by drug lords in June 1996.
The keynote presentation provided a glimmer of hope, as it featured the Digital Safe House (DSH) for Women Journalists spearheaded by IAWRT and International Media Support (IMS) with IAWRT Philippines as beneficiary. A pilot project, the DSH is an online platform featuring a reporting mechanism for Filipino women journalists under threat or attack, as well as a portal of resources such as safety training, peer support and counseling, and legal assistance.
Inna Berezkina from Russia, speaking from exile, said, “I hope people will be judged by their deeds, not the color of their passport, because evil has no nationality. And I believe that solidarity shouldn’t have it either.”
The online event provided a venue for women across the globe to listen to each other’s stories and strengthen their solidarity in order to overcome the common struggle against threats and attacks on female truth tellers.
The webinar is a cooperation between International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) and JMIC.
The speakers include Inna Berezkina, School of Civic Education in Russia, Ukrainian journalist Oleksandra Hrybenko, Kreshma Fakhri and Najiba Ayubi from IAWRT Afghanistan and Birgitte Jallov from IAWRT Denmark.
Therese San Diego will present experiences from a digital safe house in the Philippines by IAWRT, to be followed by Raiza Quallateon Mwawanga from IAWRT Tanzania, Naila Hamdy, from The American University in Cairo (AUC) in Egypt, Rand Sabbagh from the Syrian Female Journalists Network (SFJN), Sonali Dhawan from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)and Nabeelah Shabbir from International Center for Journalists (ICFJ).
The webinar is a follow up from last year’s event on new research on media and gender, when a special issue of journalism education on gender and media was launched. This year we want to focus on the experiences with the Digital Safe House (DSH) in the Philippines to see which experiences can be relevant in other parts of the world – and of course look at challenges to the safety of women journalists in the light of the war on Ukraine.
The Africa chapters of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) are building a continental Action Plan against online harassment of women journalists within and beyond Africa.
The Action Plan build up kick started with an engagement of over 260 female journalists from at least eleven countries in Africa and beyond came together 20 November 2021 to discuss the true face of online harassment against women journalists.
Some of the report findings put it that online attacks against women journalists have political motives. Political actors, extremist networks and partisan media as instigators and amplifiers of online violence against women journalists.
The first engagement was held under the theme, African Women Journalists Navigating Digital Safety under the moderation of IAWRT Secretary Nankwanga Eunice Kasirye who challenged the participants to be deliberate and intentional in identifying the different forms of online harassment, be able to isolate such incidences for pro-active solutions to protect the victims as well as putting to book the perpetrators of harassment.
Violet Gonda, the President of IAWRT, encouraged participants to share and learn from each other the different manifestations of violence and harassment both online and offline expressing optimism of devising defensive mechanisms and protection against all forms of harassment through working together with different partners and associates
Lydia Gachungi, the Regional Expert for Safety of Journalists and Media Development at UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa, explored the findings of the UNESCO’s report challenging IAWRT through her networks to ensure the silent oppressed voices are truly represented beyond the boardrooms and efforts stretch up to rural and upcountry stakeholders.
Grace Githiaga, an online safety and tools expert from IAWRT Kenya, challenged women journalists to take personal responsibility and take caution while using online spaces.
Rose Mwalimu, a senior IAWRT member also an expert on media and gender issues. explored the gravity of violence offline that eventually manifests into the digital online spaces.
IAWRT members from Tanzania, Cameroon and Uganda shared their personal experience in the face of online and offline violence and harassment while in their line of duty.
The engagement attracted participants from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Mozambique and USA.
The journalist Jocylynne Nakibuule was interviewed by her colleague Eunice Kasirye from Uganda for the podcast Insight Talk.
This is a collaborative podcast made by and about female journalists on the rise of security concerns in times of COVID, sharing insights about the challenges and breakthroughs while covering the pandemic.
The podcast was one of four made by members of International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT), coordinated by the Long Documentary and Mentoring Committees and financed by JMIC´s flexible fund.
Four women from four different countries made their first podcast on a chosen topic, while receiving mentoring from other members.
The podcasts were made from India, Pakistan and Kenya in addition to Uganda – and can be listened to here:
The Arabic translation of the safety handbook for women journalists “What if…?” is being distributed to students of journalism at An-Najah National University in Nablus and other universities in the West Bank in the beginning of January 2022.
The book is written by JMIC trainer Abeer Saady for International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) and supported UNESCO and Norwegian Union of Journalists and others.
After the Rig on press freedom – a cooperation project with JMIC/OsloMet – 42 students of journalism at An-Najah University made an excursion to Ramallah. They visited several institutions and handed over the recently printed version of the safety handbook in Arabic.
The first stop was The Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation (PYALARA) – an institution training media students – and met with its director, Hania Al-Bitar, and staff working in the media field.
They also met with the representative of the Coalition for Accountability and Transparency (AMAN), Jihad Harb. AMAN cooperates with media faculties at the Palestinian universities to develop and train students on investigative reporting.
Then the participants visited the Palestinian Radio and Television Corporation (PBC), where they met with a number of officials who briefed them on the departments of the institution and the stages of media work in it.
The tour concluded with a visit to Wafa News Agency, where Kholoud Assaf, the editing manager, gave a detailed presentation about the agency, its development and its role in the Arab and international media arena.
These visits included discussions between the students and officials on press freedom and the challenges it faces in the Palestinian reality. 80 copies of the safety book was also given to the Women Studies Center, which trains female journalists on media and gender (among other topics relevant to gender).
In commemoration of the International Women’s 2021, the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) together with the Journalism and Media International Center (JMIC) Oslo organized and hosted a webinar themed: Marginalization and stereotypes: How to build gender awareness among journalism educators.
On the International Women’s Day 8 March 2021, International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) and JMIC will launch a special issue of the Journalism Education journal, addressing how to build gender awareness among journalism educators, challenging marginalization and stereotypes.
The digital event is to take place at 8 am in New York, 1 pm in London, 2 pm. in Oslo/Berlin, 630 pm in New Delhi and 9 pm in Manila.
A globally composed panel will address experiences on how to mainstream gender perspectives in journalism education with speakers from India, Nepal, Uganda, United Kingdom and Norway.