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Women Making News

IAWRT is seeking applications for the position of Executive Producer for the 2016 IAWRT long documentary with the theme, women making news, which is designed to allow filmmakers to focus on the daily struggle which female media practitioners experience in newsrooms. 

This theme is in tune with the vision and ideals of IAWRT and would also be a continuation of our research in the areas of inequality in the representation of gender in media. Two other IAWRT 50 minute documentaries, which consist of segments of 7-9 minutes from different countries that have been fused into one production, have been made previously. See Reflecting her (2015) and Hands on: Women. Climate. Change. (2014). The international board is keen to see proposals which experiment with a film format that would enhance this content to its full potential.

The executive producer will be part of a collaborative process to finalize the theme, choose the format, identify the local directors/producers and lead the project untill completion.

Producers with a proven track record in leading documentary projects are invited to submit an application/proposal for the project by April 24th, 2016. The completed film must be submitted by 30th November 2016.

Full details below. 

Applications are also open to African chapters or members to run the inaugural African Film Festival (AFF) and 2016 IAWRT Regional Conference.

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The IAWRT is offering financial support to members undertaking professional development studies, or media leadership and management skills training in 2016. IAWRT scholarships are available to members of more than two years standing, who are from the global south. 

The area of study should benefit the activities of IAWRT International or the local IAWRT Chapter and women in media. Recipients of IAWRT support must report on their activities during the scholarship and upon completion of the course. The Final deadline for applications is April 30th.

IAWRT Chapters or individual long-standing members in non-northern countries may also now put in proposals for chapter or local activities. Proposals can apply for any kind of activity related to gender and media. However, the International Board will prioritize activities that will reach out to as many members as possible or to a wider audience. For example:

 Follow-ups of gender mainstreaming, i.e.. workshops on strategizising the implementation of gender mainstreaming in national broadcasters or workshops on the  underrepresentation of women in the media.
 Workshop on media and women’s reproductive rights, promoting the IAWRT long documentary “Representing her”.
 Hate speech – tackling online harassment.

Deadline for proposals is set to April 30th 2016. The proposal template is to be filled out and sent together with a detailed budget in US dollars to IAWRT Secretariat ([email protected]).

In 2016, IAWRT plans to launch the organisation’s first African Film Festival (AFF), an important step aimed at showcasing the work of female African filmmakers. The International board has decided that South Africa will host the 2016 Regional Conference in conjunction with the film festival, in late october or early November.

A workshop on the implementation of the Gender Mainstreaming Project (GMP) for the three pilot countries – South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya – will also be held on the sidelines of the Regional conference and AFF. The gathering is expected to be held in September.

The ABU Pacific Media Partnership Conference 2016, will be held from August 24-27, at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Hosted by Media Niugini Limited (MNL), The conference facilitates learning, gathering of information and sharing experiences through its sessions, workshops, visits to facilities and discussions. The conference sessions introduce new and advanced technologies and discuss how the industry is developing. Workshop provide the chance to learn and understand more about the application and implementation of new technologies. To register, please visit  http://www.abu.org.my/PMPC. Further information, please contact Dr Amal Punchihewa, Director Technology & Innovation via at[email protected]

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 By IAWRT Nepal chapter

Healthy women in media has been a strong focus for IAWRT Nepal in its ongoing activities.  Yoga has been harnessed by the IAWRT Nepal chapter to assist women journalists who reported on the massive earthquake which struck Nepal on 25th April 2015.

 Chapter head, Anupa Shrestha, says “The mental and emotional impact of an earthquake is one of the major invisible consequences of disaster.”

Ms Shrestha took the picture right , on March 2, 2015, she was one of the media women reporting on the destruction. The man, Mankalu Putuwar, was searching for his possessions after his very small cottage was destroyed. He had to live in a makeshift tent after that. 

Ancient cures for modern journalists

Yoga comes from the root of ‘yuj’ in Sanskrit – the language of ancient Himalayas –  meaning to yoke, join or unite or union. That union between the mind, body and spirit has been harnessed for spiritual and physical healing for thousands of years in Nepal.  Women journalists and IAWRT members, who were still in trauma due to the earthquake, were made aware of post-traumatic stress and yoga’s utility for releasing stress and helping them to stay relaxed in stressful situations. The chapter arranged practical classes, teaching techniques to overcome and heal their trauma.

One session was conducted by Dr Janak Basnet, the Director of Wellness Hospital, Ananda Natural Therapy Centre (Medispa) in Kathmandu. He shared theoretical knowledge about healing life’s trauma with yoga and explained how post-traumatic stress disorder could be overcome through different kinds of yoga. He further outlined the benefits of a natural diet, and relaxation techniques such as head massage, body massage, sirodhara (a form of Ayurveda therapy that involves gently pouring liquids over the forehead).

The second practical session was conducted by yoga guru Roshan Pulami. All the participants along with the yoga guru, practised stress releasing yoga postures, which he advised them to continue with at home. After completing the yoga session, some participants also received extra relaxation with various types of head message. Participants reported that program had been a helpful release.

Modern cures for ancient gender issues

Of course journalists must continue on, and the chapter has continued advocating for better gender recognition in the Nepali media (which is also a crucial matter for disaster recovery programs). In a one day interaction in November 29, 2015, the findings of media monitoring research done by IAWRT in the Gender Mainstreaming Project report, Gender Equality and Social Justice in Public Media were presented and the implications of the global report for Nepali media were discussed. Anupa Shrestha, IAWRT Nepal Chapter Head also shared findings of Nepali public media research done by the chapter. Delegates agreed that Nepal needs more data on the status of equality and social justice in media. It was felt that the parameters of social justice used in the IAWRT report could be replicated to assist in the sensitization of policy makers, gender workers, and media workers (houses) about gender equality and social justice in non-news programs and public speaking.

In Nepal, the research focus is on media news, but it was felt that the Gender Mainstreaming report was valuable, as its content analysis was on non-news programs –  educational, public interest, and entertainment programming. Ms. Babita Basnet, President of the Media Advocacy Group said that non-news programs are more effective with the general population and attract more listeners and viewers. So it was important to lobby producers to be more responsible in choosing characters and presenting a broad range of women’s images. Ms. Suchitra Shrestha, Film Director, agreed that that the image of women characters should change from a limited number of stereotypes. Mr. Mahendra Bista, President of the Federation of Nepali Journalists, said that the participation of women is as important as decisions about content. He said there are efforts to increase the number of female journalists, and the Ministry of Information and Communication has drafted a gender policy for media houses to encourage the hiring of more women.

Reproductive health issues

The IAWRT chapter was pleased to see health journalists inspired to make documentaries about the various reproductive health problems that women face in Nepal after its screening of the IAWRT long documentary Reflecting Her, about reproductive health issues for women from four different countries. It reflects on the contradictions, struggles and the veil of silence around abortion in Poland, FGM in India and birthing decisions and contraception in two African countries.

Television and radio health journalists, health workers, media and IAWRT members attended and Dr. Aruna Uprety, an expert in public health, critically analysed issues raised in the documentary and compared the present status of those issues in Nepal. She started by sharing an anecdote from 18 years ago, about a woman clad in a green sari and a ragged shoe, admitted with low pulse in a serious condition, who died right in front of Dr. Uprety in the hospital where she was working at the time. It was a case of septic a septic infection after birth, and the woman’s husband told Dr. Uprety that this was to be their sixth child, and that the couple wanted an abortion; but as it wasn’t legal, the child had to be born, resulting in the mother’s death 2 days later. Dr. Uprety said abortion was made legal in 2002 in Nepal, putting us at least one step ahead of many neighbouring countries. (Approximately 25% of the world’s population lives in countries with highly restrictive abortion laws, mostly in Asia, Latin America, and Africa). However she raised other reproductive health issues which women are facing in Nepal, like the controversial commercial surrogacy policy and Chhaupadi practise (where girls and women are kept in cow sheds during their menstrual cycle). Wrapping up, Dr. Uprety talked about how ignorant Nepal’s government is when it comes to health, and said that we must revive the importance and use of traditional herbal medicines

 Dr. Kiran Regmi, a Chief Specialist Secretary at the Ministry of Health and Population, said that access to abortion is conditional, not for family planning, but according to the needs of the couple. Two-three decades back, she said, women were hesitant about abortion but now that has changed. Nowadays, women have started going for regular checkups, and can decide for themselves if they want to have an abortion or not, and where they want to deliver their child. However she acknowledged that women are suffering reproductive health problems due to societal gender based flaws.

However In the remote areas of Nepal Dr Regmi says there is a huge gynaecology shortage to deal with the fistula problem (uterus prolapse as a result of unassisted childbirth, especially in adolescents). Efforts to assist women suffering the condition, she says, have been undermined by unskilled and unprofessional surgery to correct prolapses which were done massively on huge numbers of women in one day camps, resulting in deadly complications. Since there was a strong presence of health journalists, she talked about how her department could work closely with the health journalists regarding women’s reproductive health issues to bring positive change. Anupa Shrestha concluded the session by talking about the making of such documentaries on women’s reproductive health in and how it will bring changes to women’s lives in Nepal.

Modern Women’s health Care

The chapter celebrated the 106th International Women’s day 2016 with health checkups for female journalists. “Every Media house must be sensitive towards the health of their journalists, women journalists tend to give less priority to their own health” says Anupa Shrestha,  so the chapter celebrated women’s day with health awareness talks  in association with IMAGE CHANNEL Group of Companies and Tulasi Maya Memorial Cancer Relief Foundation and Nepal Cancer Hospital & Research Center Pvt. Ltd. PAP smear tests & breast cancer screening was made available to participants.



The Ethical Journalism Network’s five five point test for hate-speech, has been translated by UNESCO into Arabic and French and radio stations are being encouraged to use it as poster in newsrooms. The infographic can be downloaded in English here, in French here and in Arabic here

aisha 1

Cameroon sits up north between two countries that have and continue to suffer terror attacks in Central and Western Africa – Nigeria and the Central African Republic. In Nigeria, the Boko Haram terrorist group has carried out many terrible atrocities since it started an insurgency in 2009. The group, recently named the world’s deadliest terrorist organisation, has killed about a thousand Cameroonians (Aljazeera quoting government and military sources) and chased away hundreds, especially those living in border towns.  In January and February 2016, suicide bombers attacked markets in north Cameroon villages and towns, including Bodo, Mora the capital, Maroua, and most recently, Meme. The Cameroon military try to cope with the threat, awaiting final agreement on co-operative action by an 8,700-strong regional force involving Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Benin and Cameroon tasked with wiping out Boko Haram.

The dangers in those areas lead to the suspension of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) project initiated by IAWRT Cameroon Chapter, which worked with communities to educate the custodians of traditional female circumcision about the dangers and health consequences of the practice. However reporters must still venture into the northern regions to report about the conflict and its effect on the lives of Cameroonians.

Pochi Tamba Nsoh, IAWRT international secretary and member from Cameroon had a chat with her fellow compatriot Aisha Mamah Shetu who works for the state broadcaster, Cameroon Radio Television – CRTV, in the region most affected by the terror group – the Far North Region.

1. How would you describe your daily life if a journalist in the capital, Maroua?

Challenging in a region witnessing recurring terrorists attacks

2. Does the possibility of being caught in a suicide attack worry you as you go reporting?

The possibility of being caught up in an attack in the field is always present, because we are at the war front and the enemy is invisible. But it doesn’t quench the desire to see and feel what is going on and report to Cameroonians anxious to know.

3 Maroua is a Muslim part of Cameroon. How easy is it for you to work there as a woman?

Maroua is both for Muslims and Christians, but the people are closely tied to their cultural values in a way that it is difficult to distinguish a Muslim from a Christian. Their dressing, food, etc. it is a tradition that has a very high esteem for a woman. A woman is mother, sister, wife – that goes with lots of respect. She is respected by all, consulted for major decisions in the family and she plays a central role in most organisation, but in a discreet manner. She will not mix up herself in public with men but her role is primordial.

We are not actually afraid because we work under safe conditions, in the field we are mostly surrounded by different security units like the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR) gendarmes (police) and other military. But we always have in mind that another attack can occur anywhere anytime.

The terrorist group is the same, using different means to attain its goal, to attack to kill as many people as possible. Some of its tactics that keep changing are, suicide bombing, kidnapping, slaughter of people and cattle, burning down of villages, gunning etc

4. What do you and your colleagues fear most?

Many considered my transfer to this region, the Far North, as punishment, but to me it was a challenge and I love challenges for they give an opportunity to prove who you are and what you are capable of doing. It has been a wonderful experience for a woman like myself transferred to Maroua at the risk of terrorist attacks. As advice I will say working in a conflict zone is the same as reporting elsewhere, there is no “zero risk”, in life, just strictly follow security instructions to discover what pleasure it gives working in a conflict zone as a journalist. [email protected].

For a summary of the discussion on conflict reporting and gender issues at the IAWRT 36th Biennial  involving Aunohita Mojumdar, who reported from Afghanistan for more than a decade, Yasmine Ryan who specialises in covering Tunisia, Liberia and Algeria chaired by Bibiana Peine, see the IAWRT Biennial report

Global media safety. #impunity

It would seem to be a reasonable assumption that reporting from conflict and war is the most dangerous form of journalism, but global statistics on almost 2, 300 media worker deaths in the last 15 years, show that this is not so. 25 years of contribution towards safer journalism, the 25th report on journalists and media staff killed since 1990 released on 3 February 2016, by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) reveals that more than 95 percent of media workers died in their own countries and in peace time.

“Many of the murdered are local beat reporters whose names do not resonate in the media. These are different from by-lined war correspondents, who knowingly risk their lives, sometimes mistaken for combatants, get fatally caught in the crossfire, or walk on a land mine” said Jim Broumelha, President of the IFJ, at the conference, News organizations standing up for the safety of media professionals.

This observation is chillingly illustrated by the female death toll for 2015. Of the the six women who were murdered all were local journalists. In the second most dangerous country for journalists to operate in, the Philippines, investigative journalist Melinda Magsino-Lubis was gunned down; in Somalia, Hindiyo Haji Mohamed, a journalist with the national television station SNTV, was killed by a car bomb; In South Sudan, Dalia Marko and Randa George were among five journalists and six others who were killed in an ambush near the Darfur region; in France, Charlie Hebdo contributor Elsa Cayat was among those murdered by gunmen who attacked their office, and in the US, Alison Parker was killed as she reported live on WDBJ7 TV along with her cameraman. And the lack of a strong civil sociaty allows the continuation of this sort of impunity. Jom Boumelha  no less than 75 percent were murdered outright, such as killed by a gunman escaping on the back of a motorcycle, shot or stabbed to death near their home or office, or found dead after having been abducted and tortured – murder has become the easiest, perhaps cheapest and most effective way of silencing troublesome journalists…. The killers of the vast majority of journalists are never brought to justice.”

Two issues arise from such global initiatives to end impunity against media, one is whether the use of death tolls obscures the greater threat to local journalists. Tolls are often used in road safety messages but the fact is that road accident injury rates are usually seven – ten times greater in number and cost to society, and the same is probably true for the media toll, deaths are not an accurate measure of the severity or consequences of violence against the media. As IAWRT Board member Abeer Saady says “it is very hard for a local journalist, more incidents are local and a lot are being left unreported. The harassment is very deliberate……. How can we protect the local journalists who work on the ground, even protecting them from the big [international] news agencies who employ them?

The second issue is that attacks on women, especially sexual harassment, have always been under reported. According to Mindy Ran the co-chair of the IFJ gender council, the decision to keep data on the women journalists killed, is: “in recognition of the many years of under-reporting of deaths and violence against women, and women journalists.” Zuliana Lainez, IFJ executive committee member, says “The overall figures for attacks on journalists can be misleading about the security risks facing women journalists.” It is a rare case when perpetrators are brought to justice, such as this month’s sentencing over the kidnap and torture of Colombian journalist Jineth Bedoya in Lima in 2000. Her awards include the 2001 Courage in Journalism Award of the International Women’s Media Foundation, and despite being abducted again in 2003, she continues to work as a journalist. (Jineth Bedoya pic: by Esther Vargas)

Again we return to the threats to local media women, Zuliana Lainez says “Depending on the culture and position of women journalists, the type of the threat to them may be different … Local women journalists also face a particular type of violence aimed at violating their private or family life. In some societies, all it takes to disqualify a newspaper’s report is to attack the journalist’s reputation.” The social media debate in India over sedition accusations against Delhi university students abound with sexualised accusations against women supporters of the students. The social media attacks on Indian TV journalist and columnist Barkha Dutt, as she describes it as an ‘Anti-National Sickular Presstitute’ are just one example of such gender specific personalised attacks. 

An International Women’s Media Foundation global survey had almost two-thirds of 1,000 media women respondents saying they had experienced some form of intimidation, threats or abuse in relation to their work, ranging in severity from name-calling to death threats. It also found that most incidents of harassment and violence were never reported by women journalists because they fear being considered too vulnerable or too weak to do investigative work in the field. Now as media is increasingly availed from online sources, the threats to women are coming more out into the open. It is hardly reassuring that data collected by Demos, shows that female journalists experience roughly three times as many abusive comments as their male counterparts on Twitter.

In the 2015 UNESCO report Building Digital Safety for Journalists, online abuse of female journalists was pointed out as one of the main challenges in building digital safety. The Organization for Security and Co‑operation in Europe’s Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović convened an expert meeting in 2015 because of the danger of female voices online being silenced, “Female journalists and bloggers throughout the globe are being inundated with threats of murder, rape, physical violence and graphic imagery via email, commenting sections and across all social media platforms” she said.

New Challenges to Freedom of Expression: Countering Online Abuse of Female Journalists has a number of specific recommendations on how to best ensure that existing legal frameworks be used to support female journalists and prevent online harassment. Prominent amongst the recommendations is the need for employers to proactively support journalists being harassed online. Dunja Mijatović says she called on the OSCE participating States to declare, unequivocally, that any effort to silence women online must be regarded as a direct attack on our fundamental freedoms, while refraining from drafting new laws to restrict abusive speech on the internet, as they may have a chilling effect on freedom of expression. Along with a copy of those recommendations, the publication contains a number of essays from prominent journalists, academics and organizations recounting their experiences dealing with online threats against female journalists.

Whether impunity is in abusing or threatening media, especially women, online or in actual violence, as the IFJ President Jim Boumelha says impunity, “occurs when there is the absence of political will to back the investigations.“  He warns that while there are numerous instruments adopted by the UN, most are non-binding; “the major hindrance for the protection of journalists derives not from the scope of the rights but from implementation deficits”. And today’s sad reality is that not many journalists can rely on international institutions to defend their rights when they disappear or are jailed or murdered.”

In the meantime, there are tens of thousands of male and female journalists around the world who utilise the democratic space which is available to tell the stories which empower and matter. 

by Nonee Walsh





Building Digital Safety for Journalists