lis iawrt flowers_edited-1

By Nonee Walsh

Long serving IAWRT member Elisabeth Kirkby has passed yet another milestone in her full and productive life, celebrating her 95th birthday with her family, north of Sydney, Australia, on January 26th 2015. Lis has forged several dynamic careers since the 1940’s, as an actress, broadcaster, politician and farmer and she recently completed her doctoral thesis

Lis kirkby has been a member of the IAWRT since the early 1960’s and served on the international board from 1972 and as President from 1976 -1980.

Lis’s radio career began In Malaysia, where she lived during the uprising dubbed the ‘Malayan Emergency, rising to become head of the Talks and Features Unit of Radio Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur. Some IAWRT members were fortunate to be on a tour of Kuala Lumpur with Lis in 2011, when she pointed out the balcony where, in 1957, she worked on the radio broadcast of the handover of power from the British. Lis also pointed out the site of a theatre company she helped establish, and reminisced about using the equipment now housed at the Radio Malaysia Museum. 

In 1965, she was employed by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, when it had only just begun to allow married women to remain in the workforce. Lis worked in the Schools Division, and as a light entertainment producer. In 1966, she became the first on air presenter of a daily women’s programmeMorning Call’. Lis says The programme was fully-scripted, remarks were not permitted and the interviews were devoted to cooking, children’s health, books and sometimes a discussion with a prominent woman. Current affairs, politics were banned”. However, political activism has always been a part Lis’s life. Lis opposed the Vietnam War and Australia’s involvement, from the 1960’s, and was an early member of Australia’s second-wave feminist organisation, the Women’s Electoral Lobby, as well as numerous other women’s and human rights groups.

Lis became a household name in Australian in the 1970’s with role of Lucy Sutcliffe in a high rating soap opera called  Number 96 . It was a programme about daily lives, but was ground breaking as it dealt with sexuality, breast cancer, reproductive issues and homosexuality. (My parents considered it to be too riské for me to watch – I had to find out at what was happening from high-school friends).

She continued theatre and television acting and entered politics. She was the Australian Democrats New South Wales state leader for many years, elected to the New South Wales Parliament upper house, serving from 1981-1998, and for several years part of a group which effectively held the balance of power over government legislaton. She campaigned to decriminalise homosexuality, to improve workers’ rights, conditions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and to establish equal rights and opportunities for women. 

After that Lis became a sheep grazier in a town called Temora and served in local government. In 2012 she was awarded the national Medal of the Order of Australia, for “…service to the Parliament of New South Wales, to the community of Temora, and to the performing arts.

Between 2002 and 2014 Lis completed her bachelor of arts and then doctoral studies at The University of Sydney, becoming Australia’s oldest university graduate. Dr Kirkby’s PhD thesis, was entitled Will we ever learn from history: the impact of economic orthodoxy on unemployment during the Great Depression in Australia. Of her thesis, she said: “I am more and more involved in this thesis as a matter of putting forward what I believe are principles of social justice, and it is not some airy fairy idea of total equality. There’s no such thing as total equality, but a progressive society has to be fair, and it is not fair when a financial firm in New York can make a profit that is greater than the gross domestic product of a small country.” Thesis is Available here

Speaking to Sydney University staff after that latest achievement, Lis said “It really is infuriating that people assume you can’t do something because of your age.” See TV report here.

IAWRT wishes Lis well for the future, and as she says “there is always something to do”, we are in no doubt that we will be hearing from her again soon. 


Sydney University

N.S.W. Parliament

The story of IAWRT 


ilang quijano MOM

Name: Ilang-Ilang Quijano

Location: Philippines

What do you do?

I am a journalist-filmmaker working in alternative media in the Philippines. I sit on the National Council of Altermidya (People’s Alternative Media Network), a national network of independent and progressive media outfits and institutions. Right now, I am involved in multimedia production (all stages of production from conceptualization, scripting, shooting and editing) and write feature and opinion articles for the Altermidya website. I am also involved in Altermidya’s training programs on video for social change, community radio, and citizen journalism. I am also a documentary filmmaker.

Why did this type of work interest you, and how did you get started?

I started in journalism writing for our student publication at the University of the Philippines, Manila. As a student journalist, I co-wrote an article with my father, a doctor, on the effects of aerial spraying of pesticides in a community in Southern Philippines. The article was published in a national newspaper, and we got sued for libel. Click for more details. The case got me interested in writing about social issues. My first job was in 2002 as a reporter for Pinoy Weekly, a start-up weekly print newspaper that catered to marginalized communities of workers, urban poor, migrants, indigenous peoples, women and youth.  As it was independent media, I got to write freely on human rights, the environment, land rights, women’s rights, public policy and other pressing social issues. I eventually became the Executive Director of Pinoy Media Center, the publisher of Pinoy Weekly, and also ventured into documentary filmmaking, multimedia production, and citizen journalism training. 

I received my Master’s degree in journalism as a fellow of the Konrad Adenauer Asian Center for Journalism. I am a past director of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines. More recently, I studied documentary filmmaking through the Goethe Institute in Manila and Jakarta and got to participate in various film festivals in the Philippines and abroad. Right now I am also a board member of the IAWRT -Philippines Chapter. 

What part of this job do you personally find most satisfying? Most challenging?

The work is satisfying because you see and feel the enthusiastic responses of communities whenever we report or highlight their issues and concerns, which are mostly misrepresented or underreported by the corporate mainstream media. You become part of their empowerment. The most challenging thing is always the lack of income — as sustainability is always an issue in independent and non-profit media. Threats of harassment and censorship are also very real in the Philippines, and always a challenge, especially for alternative media practitioners.

What do you like and not like about working in this industry?

I like the editorial independence and freedom in alternative media to report on issues that matter, and in ways that can lead to empowerment and social change. I like the fact that I can be enterprising, choose my own stories, and even contribute to other news outfits or look for other producers and partners for documentaries I’m interested in doing. The multimedia landscape is also very exciting—the technology to create powerful documentaries, web series, and other multimedia works is now more accessible, and there is a wide variety of forms that one can use, and experiment with, for storytelling. 

What I do not like about the media industry is that in general, it does not pay well for independent journalists or even for its own employees. (That is why we work, not just on press freedom issues, but for the welfare of journalists as well.) I also do not like the fact that producers and editors are also frequently looking for content that “sells” and not necessarily content that matters.

What are your long-term goals?

My long-term goal is for the alternative media in the Philippines to flourish even more, especially in the provinces where it is badly needed by poor or marginalized communities. Personally, my goal is to train and educate more independent media practitioners and to help in establishing alternative media outfits. I’d also like to produce or direct more compelling and creative documentaries, and to write more narrative and investigative reports on issues that are close to my heart.

What special advice do you have for a student seeking to qualify for this position?

My advice to students is to be enterprising in their stores and not be inhibited by the traditional news beat system, or reporting solely within the confines of the corridors of power—which mostly manipulate the news agenda. Go to non-traditional news sources, seek out communities and people in their daily lives, and find out how public policies or social phenomenon affect them. Always be critical. Get to know the people you are covering as intimately as possible. As much as possible, give voice to the voiceless; afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. For women journalists, my advice is that every issue affects women in special ways: find out how and you will have a story, most likely one that can only be told by a woman.

Do you have any special words of warning or encouragement as a result of your experience?

There is this quote that was used by student publications during the period of Martial Law in the Philippines; I think that it is still relevant today: “In the midst of a deafening cry for change in a society beset with inequalities, journalism cannot find a neutral sanctuary. Either it contributes to the prolonging of the night, or helps in the ushering of a new dawn. After all, to write is already to choose.”

These are my strongest assets/skills, areas of knowledge, personality traits and values are….

Aggressiveness, compassion, creativity and critical mindedness

Links to your media projects

Documentary: “Heart of the City” tells about the life-and-death struggle of Manila’s urban poor settlers whose homes are about to be demolished.
Watch here:

Documentary Trailer: “Daughters of Cordillera” tells the story of Piya, a young activist, who visits her hometown in Bontoc, Mountain Province, to reconnect with her indigenous roots. Watch here:

Various AlterMidya multimedia productions. Watch here:

An opinion piece on human rights reporting published by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility. Read here:

An investigative narrative report on a mining-affected community published in Pinoy Weekly. Read here:

sanga Mwalimu resize_edited-2

By IAWRT-Tanzania Chapter

The Report on Gender Equity and Social Justice in Public Media, compiled from monitoring by chapters of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT), has shown that women and girls are not engaged fully as sources of information or in decision making bodies at different levels compared to male counterparts. 

The Report on Gender Mainstreaming Monitoring in the Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC) further said that the gender inequality gap that exists between men and women denies women’s rights to enjoy different opportunities, including wages.

At the official launch of the report in Dar es Salaam, the guest of honour and Executive Director of the Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA), Edda Sanga (pictured with head of IAWRT Tanzania Rose Haji Mwalimu) called on the government to abide by the Beijing Platform Declaration on the advancement of women and the South African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Development, to ensure women are engaged at all levels of decision making bodies in order to bridge the existing gap and enhance the development of the country.

Sanga however, called on women themselves to be aggressive and united, to ensure that the gender equality agenda is pushed through by a common voice. Those who are already at top of the ladder should ensure they get down and uplift the status of others, especially those at grass roots level.

Rose Haji Mwalimu said women also need to be self-aware and value their contribution to the community. She said a failure to do so will reinforce the existing gender gap between men and women. Despite the burden women carry and the contribution women make in the community they have been denied their right to hold top positions at workplaces and do not access media information.

As a way forward, participants to the launch came up with a collaborative strategy to popularize the report nationally, internationally and in the local community. One strategy is to circulate the report widely to different stakeholders, to include the report in different workshops and seminars and to translate the report into Kiswahili for the community to understand the relevance of the contents to them.

Another strategy is to hold discussions in and around electronic media and to use social media platform as well as the existing websites of partner organizations like TAMWA and others to publize the report.

Such engagements will influence journalists to be more engaged with gender issues so they can mainstream gender into their daily undertakings and influence media owners and media decision makers to create interest in gender issues. (Pictured left Razia Mwawanga, IAWRT – Tanzania Treasuer Chapter and director of the programme, leads discussion).

The Tanzania workshop also included the screening of the ‘Reflecting Her’ an IAWRT produced documentary on reproductive health in a number of countries.

The workshop is part of IAWRT’s ongoing project on gender mainstreaming, which includes holding fact-based events aiming to inform media parctitioners, to reverse the lack of progress in making gender issues central to media output. Workshops continue at the local level and in global forums, principally through side events at the Commission on the Status of Women. 

Photo (2)

The dynamism and innovation of Archana Kapoor,  the head of the IAWRT India chapter, has been recognised in the 2016 Devi awardsThey are run by The Sunday Standard, a publication of the New Indian Express Group, to recognise hard work and achievement, against all odds. The annual awards honour 20 exceptional women from the southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telengana. 

Archana Kapoor was nominated for her work in founding Radio Mewat, through a NGO which she established called SMART (Seeking Modern Applications for Real Transformation). It focuses on providing communications and technological tools to transform economically backward communities. The award-winning Radio Mewat, is a community station which services and informs an impoverished district about 70 km from New Delhi.

The Managing Trustee of the IAWRT India chapter was honoured for for her contribution to women’s empowerment through the  radio station. Read more about Archana’s work.

The ceremony was held on January 11, 2016 and the awards were presented by the External Affairs Minister of India, Sushma Swaraj.  IAWRT Vice President Ananya Chakraborti, also from India, says she is proud of Ms Kapoor

The IAWRT India Chapter elected Archana Kapoor, to lead its large membership in December following the chapter’ success in organising the highly stimulating IAWRT biennial in New Delhi, under the leadership of Reena Mohan.