sara 200

Notable Young South African

IAWRT South African Chapter head Sara Chitambo has been named one of 200 notable young South Africans in the Mail & Guardian’s annual edition of a project which highlights the young talent of the country.The newspaper and online outlet has run the list for just over a decade, to feature trailblazing South Africans under the age of 35.

Sara is the Project manager of ZAZI, a national women’s campaign that speaks out for women, under the motto “know your strength”. She works her messages across multiple media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, television, radio, and outdoor advertising. 

She begain in health activism, promoting public health messages using popular culture, mass media and social media. Sara was one producer on the 2105 IAWRT documentary on reproductive Health ‘Reflecting Her’, presenting the story of Susan Vele Ravuku and Agnes Tomori from the province of Limpopo. The documentay showed the strength and good humour of the women in overcoming resistance to promote female condom usage and rural women’s rights to be safe from abuse.

The south African Chapter, under Sara’s leadership has been selected to organise the inaugural IAWRT African Film Festival and regional conference later in 2016.  Full citation: Mail and Guardian 200 Young South Africans 2016.

ict for activists

ICTs for Feminist Movement Building: Activist Toolkit

A new toolkit, for using information communications technologies has drawn on the experiences of women activists, mainly in southern Africa, to outline effective use of ICT’s to bring about real change. 

The well laid out and simple to use kit focuses on women’s rights activists, and the extraordinary potential of ICTs to make campaigns for social justice more powerful in new and wider spaces.

By Just Associates (JASS, Women’sNetAssociation for Progressive Communications (APC)

Activists around the world use information and communications technologies (ICTs) to speak out and stand up against injustice, to take action against violence and inequality, and build movements for transformative change. But the big questions for many activists remain: How do we tell our own stories and make ourselves heard? How do we tell stories that empower and inspire, and challenge mainstream stories that tend to silence, erase women’s lives, experiences and voices? How do we communicate with each other and with people beyond our movements? What is the best way to develop messages that reach out to people and make our movements bigger? What tools make the most sense for our context and capacity?  How can we communicate safely and securely in a world that has become increasingly risky for activists and women’s rights activists online and offline?

ICTs for Feminist Movement Building: Activist Toolkit We hope will help YOU to:

  • Experiment and be creative about communicating
  • Think about how communications can help to build movements for social justice
  • Fight gender stereotypes and Amplify women’s voices so they can tell their own stories
  • Design strategies that make sense for their organisations and movements
  • Be safe, be smart and be secure!

The toolkit aims to assist activists to think through their communication strategies in a way that supports movement building. It offers an exciting and practical guide to writing a communication strategy and reviews a number of tools (ICTs) and technology-related campaigns which can be used in organising work. At the core, this toolkit is also about feminist practice and how to use tools to communicate in ways that are democratic, amplify women’s voices whilst challenging stereotypes and discriminatory social norms. We hope it will assist activists in making creative, safe and sustainable choices in using ICTs in our communication strategies.

JASS, in partnership with Women’s Net and APC, is proud to present the ICTs for Feminist Movement Building: Activist Toolkit to support more effective, resilient, visible and safe movements by helping activists to understand ICTs, influence how they are developed, and empower ourselves to use them and harness them to make a difference.

The tool kit is attached below or individual chapters may be downloaded from here

What drives women to chronicle the realities of a complex and violent world?

Women have been making news as writers or journalists for hundreds of years. Europe has records of female editors or writers back to the 1600’s, women journalists operated in India under the British Raj and in China in the 1800’s, and probably well before that, but journalism has been a male dominated profession until the last century. In many countries it still is.

Nupur Basu,(pictured) an Indian and international journalist and documentary filmmaker for the last 35 years, has been witness to women entering the profession in ever increasing numbers in the last three decades. 

However, numbers don’t tell the full story and as the Executive Producer of this year’s IAWRT long documentary, Women Making News she would like “to come right into 2016 to see where women are in journalism at the present juncture.”

There are many strands to women making news, for example, the status of women in world newsrooms: Do they still work with editors and colleagues with patriarchal mind-sets? Are women journalists in decision making positions in newsrooms? Do they have any power to make an impact on the final outcome of a story?

First the good news: “In the recent Panama Papers investigations, which revealed how the rich and powerful stashed their disposable income in tax havens, the investigation was carried out globally by around 300 journalists. Half of them were women journalists, including those who headed the investigation”, says Nupur.

“However while women may have broken through the glass ceiling, it is the ecosystem in which women journalists have to operate that raises new concerns.”  

Nupur has herself reported from, and filmed in, highly risky environments – the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and in Afghanistan (for her full career, see Pen Profile below). “With the rise of right wing nationalist parties in different countries and groups like ISIS and Boko Haram – what are the new dangers that women reporters are facing? How do they negotiate those assignments – do they negotiate these mine fields differently from their male colleagues?” she asks.

“Women are on the frontline. The numbers of women journalists being killed in the field and in the digital arena has begun to climb. Studies have revealed that women journalists are subject to “double attacks”. Like women politicians, women journalists are trolled by obscene threats of rape and threats to abduct and kill their children, “things that would hurt us deeply” the Indian journalist observes.

Nupur says the basic identity of women in the profession of journalism, is a theme she is keen to see explored in the documentary.

“I recall Samira Sitaïl (pic:left)  the director of information @2M TV, Morocco, in the 2013 IAWRT biennial conference saying: “My name is Samira – but I think, what if it was Samir? I have been threatened. But I am not going to change my sex!  There are times, however, that society accepts us as journalists first and then a woman.”

That experience is not limited to North Africa. Nupur Basu says female journalists, across the globe are increasingly happy to build on their identity as women.

“As a feminist I believe that women journalists and filmmakers do bring their own vision into a story without compromising with the truth. Truth telling is our job – male or female – but it how we tell a story. I think women have a certain nuanced humane narrative whether it is from the front line or other areas. I would like to see those aspects being explored.”

The long documentary will weave 10-12 minute films from a number of countries into a 50 minute film, and Nupur is keen to see the diversity of ways in which the local filmmakers, applying to be part of the project, will explore such issues. “I am looking forward to very strong pitches coming in from our members from different regions pertaining to this exciting theme”.

There are many stories of women reporters showing extraordinary bravery, and perhaps, Nupur muses, one will emerge to link or drive globally diverse stories into the final production, Women Making News. “It will be both exciting and challenging to link these different micro stories together and tell a larger macro story”.

Like the ISIS killing, there are other chilling stories of attacks on digital and mainstream women journalists and their attempts to face the consequences and carry on.“An independent woman blogger from Bangladesh, Rafida Ahmed Bonya, (pic right: © Deutsche Welle / M.Magunia) who survived a machete attack on the streets of Dhaka in which her husband Avijit Roy, a well-known blogger and writer, died, is an amazing woman who now lives in the US. Or the Indian journalist, Malini Subramaniam, who writes for and has done extensive reporting on tribal rights from the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, where mobs harassed her family, stoned her car and police hounded her husband, domestic help and landlord. Another story of bravery is that of rural women in India, who have formed a rural women’s news network, and despite little to no schooling – they have become instrumental in trying to expose corruption.”

“There are similar stories of women journalists’ pushing the boundaries in their reportage from the Middle East, Afghanistan, the Philippines and Africa. There are many amazing stories and we hope to cast our net for them. Women Making News should explore what drives these women journalists to do their jobs against such heavy odds.”

Women Making News will try and probe the challenges facing women journalists across the globe in a 24×7 news ecosystem and try and explore their meaningful role as a chronicler of contemporary realities in a complex and violent world” observes Nupur.

(IAWRT Film makers have until July 7th to apply to be a part of the documentary and it is due to be completed by November.)


15 – 17 June, Austria; a round table discussion, organised by the Ethical Journalists Network, during the Global Editors Network Summit to debate how media can build trust in the digital newsroom.

The digital newsroom is a 21st century reality. But how do we maintain the traditions of accuracy, reliability and ethical quality when we are bombarded on all sides – by self-interest, spin, public relations and strident social media? How can journalism embrace change and build public trust in our news brand? We have invited delegates at the GEN summit to bring their ideas to the table.

The EJN’s director of communications and campaigns, Tom Law will be joined for the session by Geir Terje Ruud, founder of the Oslo Media House, who will be speaking at the Global Editors Network summit on automation in the newsroom the previous day. If you would like to attend, email Tom at [email protected]

mom june

Name: Ngunan Adamu

What do you do? Radio Producer/Presenter for BBC Radio Merseyside and a social entrepreneur

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

I have always had a passion for working with disengaged and disadvantaged women and young people, using media, especially radio, to empower and educate the masses.

As a Nigerian scouser, my love for people and humanity came from my parents. In my father, a doctor working for the British Council, UN and WHO, I saw the passion that he put into his work, working on HIV/AIDS education for the African community on the stigma surrounding the virus and how to live a fulfilled life after diagnosis. However, it was his work with the mental health community internationally, that spurred me to want to work with communities but also to use journalism to highlight the issues facing them.

My mother, a strong woman raising three children in the UK on her own, demonstrated the power of giving, kindness and acceptance.  Our home was a half-way house for those suffering from mental health and refugees/asylum seekers. This gave me the skills needed to be accepting of others.

As a graduate trainee journalist, my first job was as a health report for Voice newspaper, which was a local newspaper based in Toxteth, Liverpool, writing stories that affected people’s health. This experience gave me access to the growing diverse community of Liverpool and the different organisations that tackled health and integration.

Because of my passion for disengaged and disadvantaged communities, my reputation grew amongst my BBC colleagues as the ‘Outreach girl’ giving me access to brilliant projects such as BBC News School Report, BBC Radio 1Xtra UTakeover, BBC Hackney Academy, BBC Step Up and Connecting Classrooms with the British Council; but also covering stories such as Stop and Search police powers, Gun and Gang Violence, teenage mothers etc…

I graduated with a BA (hons) in Journalism from Liverpool John Moores University in 2003 and I managed to get into the  BBC through work experience after several attempts of applying through the normal jobs portal route and I’ve been here ever since.

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

I love covering personal stories of inspiration but also international stories that showcase the talent in Africa and the Caribbean, as my show is aimed at the African and Caribbean community.

The most challenging part of my job is the sensitive stories: in 2014 I was sent to Nigeria to cover the one year anniversary of the missing Chibok school girls as a foreign field producer, but was lucky to have reported on it for a few stations. It was a bitter sweet experience, it’s the type of story that journalists are waiting for but speaking to girls who had been at the school was heartbreaking.

However, on a day to day basis, the most challenging part is managing your time and understanding that you can’t do or cover everything.

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

Every day is different, no one day is the same, in one week I interviewed Seal the singer, Gyptian the dancehall artist and Chuck D from Public Enemy, the following week I interviewed a woman who had been in a polyamorous relationship, the following week it was the floods in the Caribbean, so you can never predict your week.

There’s nothing that I don’t like about the industry apart from the amount of hours you have to give to make sure that you have quality content

What are your long-term goals?

My long term goal, which I am currently working on, is to have my own online radio station and radio academy working with women over the age of 25.

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

Be passionate, stand out and do your research. When emailing a fellow journalist or producer, research what stories they have covered or shows they have worked on. Know the industry inside and out: know which papers are affiliated to certain political groups, get involved in your school or university papers, radio or TV stations, apply for work experience or shadowing opportunities.

Once you have done all of the above, email an editor or journalist and ask to meet for a tea or coffee, just to find out what their jobs entails and what their vision is for the industry or their department as well as what skills and experience they are looking for, but don’t forget to sell yourself.

From now on, you are a walking talking CV!

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

Always be prepared, don’t take your position for granted, once you lose passion for the industry it’s time to move on. I’ve worked for the BBC for almost 11 years and I’ve worked for so many different departments, some unrelated to journalism, but I picked up so many new skills and experiences – always be prepared for any opportunity.

My word of warning would be to not give up or be disheartened when things are not moving as fast as you would have liked and never be too familiar, although you might be in a creative environment you must always remain professional

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

My strongest assets are being able to approach anyone and making interviewees feel relaxed and at ease during my interview.

My areas of knowledge are Africa, specifically Nigeria, music, women, youth and politics. However I do love health and wellbeing and technology

I’m passionate about being Nigerian and Scouse; And I value people, I am a humanist; I believe that everyone should be able to live a fulfilled and positive life and my job as a journalist to give the listeners the information to be able to make informed decisions through the stories I cover.

Some of Ngunan Adamu’s work may be found here.

long doco image rs

Applications closed

Women Making News is the theme for the Long Documentary production, 2016.  IAWRT will build on the same method of production used in 2014 and 2015, using five short films made by members in different countries.

 Nupur Basu, senior journalist and filmmaker from the India chapter, has been selected as the Executive Producer of the Long Documentary. She will have the overall responsibility for the project, give the specifications, and edit the short documentaries into one long documentary.

TIMELINE: July 7 – Deadline to receive all film proposals

July 8 to July 20 – The EP and long documentary committee pick the final proposals.

July 21 to July 25 – Financial disbursements to selected directors.

July 26 to September 30 – Filming and rough cut delivery.

October 1 to November 20 – Final edit by EP in India.

If you are an experienced filmmaker with proven credentials, you can submit a resumé and upload a show reel. See full documentation and application form in attachments, below.

ngos comittee Un

“Space for ordinary people to exercise their fundamental freedoms – and to participate in their own governance – is closing at a rapid and disturbing pace worldwide.

And ground zero, shamefully, is the very place where these rights should be thriving: The United Nations, one of whose pillars, ironically, is human rights.” Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.

pic: Committee on NGO’s 2016 resumes session;  

More than 230 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from around the world have joined forces to protest about a crucial United Nations committee shutting out voices which some states (countries) do not want to hear.

The 19 member, Committee on NGOs has now made the controversial decision to refuse consultative status to the high profile advocate of media freedom, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) “At a time when such a voice is sorely needed” according to UN Special Rapporteur, Maina Kiai. He says many other NGOs working on human rights issues are being stymied. “Those who faced the greatest obstacles were those working on sexual orientation and gender identity, minority rights, or sexual and reproductive rights.” The Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (YCSRR) was also refused consultative status at the May-June meeting.

The committee is the main gateway for civic organisations to engage with the UN, It recommends consultative status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).That status allows NGOs access to UN forums, including the Human Rights Council, to submit information, lobby diplomats, and organize side events (IAWRT has had consultative status with ECOSOC since 1985).

CPJ has been reporting sexualised violence against women media workers since its first report in 2011, The silencing crime: Sexual violence and journalists. Their work is a valuable resource for media advocacy and capacity-building organisations such as IAWRT, which promotes gender equity in the media. Such work, including the 2016 annual publication, Attacks on the Press: Gender and Media Freedom Worldwide forms part of the research base for the 2016 IAWRT long documentary film – Women Making News – which will probe these issues.

CPJ: “Kafkaesqe bureaucratic limbo”

The Committee to Protect Journalists often launches its annual monitoring of attacks on the media in conjunction with the United Nations.

“It is sad that the UN., which has taken up the issue of press freedom through Security Council and General Assembly resolutions and through the adoption of the UN. Action Plan, has denied accreditation to CPJ, which has deep and useful knowledge that could inform decision making,” says the Executive Director Joel Simon.

The CPJ first applied for consultative status in 2012, and was deferred seven times, it says that was based on arcane UN. procedure, “the accreditation process has been one of Kafka-esqe bureaucratic limbo.”[1] The May-June session had 245 applications deferred from earlier sessions before it, that was reduced to 235, 188 NGO’s did receive consultative status. 

The CPJ voting was: Yes: Greece, Guinea, Israel, Mauritania, USA, Uruguay; No: Azerbaijan, Burundi, China, Cuba, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russia,South Africa, Sudan, Venezuela. There were 3 abstentions: India, Iran and Turkey.

Cuba, Azerbaijan, China and Iran were on CPJ’s 2015 list the 10 Most Censored Countries in the annual publication, Attacks on the Press.

Joel Simon says “A small group of countries with poor press freedom records are using bureaucratic delaying tactics to sabotage and undermine any efforts that call their own abusive policies into high relief.”

The committee on NGOs has also deferred, for the 18th time, an application by an organisation working to end discrimination against people based on caste – the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN).

 “A tool of states that do not respect human rights”

The International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) now has an unenviable record. It is the NGO made to wait the longest for a decision – nine years. Two more questions from India lead to the latest delay. “Since 2008, India has asked 77 questions, many of them repetitive and previously responded to” it says in a statement.

“The UN Committee on NGOs has become infamous as a tool of states that do not respect human rights and civil society. The Committee’s practice of repeatedly deferring NGO applications for consultative status with the UN has reached such an alarming extent that it undermines global human rights.”

IDSN Executive Director Rikke Nöhrlind says ECOSOC status is crucial for IDSN’s work “without it, opportunities to discuss the impact of and solutions to the horrific human rights and development challenges brought about by caste discrimination will be lost.”

 KKF:“defamed and then silenced”

In January the committee blocked the application of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF) without allowing it to defend itself against a claim that it ‘undermined the unity of the state of Vietnam’.

The International Service for Human Rights New York co-director Eleanor Openshaw says the practices of the Committee hit a new low, when it allowed accusations to be made against the KKF, but denied the NGO the right to speak at a regular Q&A session.

“In so doing, the Committee allowed for an NGO to be defamed and then silenced, in violation of the fundamental principles of freedom of expression, association and due process that should guide the Committee’s work” she said.

The KKF, established at a global gathering in the US in 1985, has been vocal about Vietnamese government land grabs and human rights abuses of Khmer-Krom people living in the Mekong Delta. In 2012 Vietnam successfully argued in ECOSOC that it should not be granted consultative status.

“Hijacking, and closing the main door for NGOs”

The letter, from the national and international NGO’s, accuses the Committee of politicising its administrative role, particularly by obstructing human rights organisations working on issues with which States disagree. It called on members of ECOSOC to reform the practice of the Committee, and institute a political, fair and transparent system.

Even getting the NGO’s concerns before the committee was not easy. In the May-June meeting, a protracted and tense argument about the right of an NGO representative to speak during its sessions preceded ISHR delivering a statement.

The letter, copied to UN leaders, takes a moderate tone whilst citing the findings of the 2014 report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association.

However, Maina Kiai was scathing about the committee’s May-June session: “the same governments that are restricting NGOs domestically are stepping up efforts to take away NGOs’ voices on the international stage as well” he said.

“The United Nations is an arena where some of the world’s most significant political decisions are made. Ordinary people, though civil society organizations that may have a different view from their government, must have a voice in this process.

To be clear, this responsibility is not simply about boosting civil society’s profile. It’s also about the effectiveness and credibility of the United Nations as a whole.”

By Nonee Walsh


In late May 2016 The United Nations human rights office added its voice to the concerns raised about the denial of consultative status to CPJ. In late July, 2016, an ECOSOC vote finally gave CPJ the right to officially access U.N. bodies and processes.



[1] Reference to works of German writer Franz Kafka, variously understood to include being nightmarishly complex, bizarre or an illogical terror of endless interrogations.