UgandaMOU signed

IAWRT Uganda chapter signs MOU with HRNJ-Uganda

The IAWRT Uganda Chapter and Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together on projects that promote the rights of  the country’s journalists.

The Chairperson IAWRT Uganda Chapter Ms. Sarah Nakibuuka Bakehena says that the partnership will strengthen both the institutions and ensure Gender Mainstreaming is a part of various programs aimed at providing capacity for journalists in Uganda.

The partnership gives IAWRT Uganda Chapter an opportunity to access office space and increase organizational systems capacity. The two organisations have agreed to promote each other’s activities.

Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) was established in 2005, as “a network of human rights journalists in Uganda working towards enhancing the promotion, protection and respect of human rights through defending and building the capacities of journalists.”

The MOU was signed by the Uganda Chapter Vice Chairperson Ms. Eunice Kasirye and the HRNJ Uganda Coordinator Mr. Robert Ssempala (pictured)  witnessed By Ms. Joyce Bagala, the Chapter’s Secretary General.


Increasing trust in journalism

One of IAWRT’s partner organisations, the Ethical Journalism Network (EJN) has restructured and refreshed its website. Its aimed at strengthening capacity to build trust in journalism as a cornerstone of free expression and quality communications. 

The global network, headed by Aidan White, (pic left IAWRT 2015 Biennial) was set up three years ago,  will now operate under a Board of Trustees  made up of media leaders from the United Kingdom and Norway, and has been registered as a charity in the UK . 

IAWRT member Oona Solberg remains a coordinator for both the EJN and the Norwegian Institute of Journalism. Former IAWRT President Rachael Nakitare of Kenya, who has worked on the EJN hate speech campaign, continues as an adviser. 

(pic below front with Aiden White in Dar es Salaam)   

The EJN is working with local media, IAWRT chapters,  journalists and leading academics in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East to create programs that strengthen free media in the global digital age.  It recognises that journalism is in the midst of historic change; EJN argues that the days when a professional elite controlled the flow of information to a captured audience, are gone forever. The network’s object is to put journalism at the heart of plans to promote critical thinking and ethical values – to make them the key elements in strategies for responsible public communications.

EJN works across multiple regions including crisis-hit areas such as Turkey, Georgia, and Palestine, supporting journalists in their fight for professional freedom. 

  • in China EJN is organising new work with universities and setting up a regional network to combat political threats;
  • in Asia, working with media professional groups in Pakistan and Indonesia where hard-won freedoms are coming under pressure;
  • in Africa the EJN is building its campaign Turning the Page of Hate to help media and journalists eliminate hate-speech in public discourse;
  • in the Middle East EJN supports co-operation between universities and media to support tolerance in communication;
  • in the Western Balkans, EJN works with media to strengthen internal governance and transparency.

EJN’s Director & CEO  says editors and reporters struggle to maintain their professionalism in the face of a changing culture of communications driven by the two-edged sword of digital technology.

“This technology has created an inspiring world of open information, as well as a darker side. Some corporations, governments and powerful interest groups with limited respect for democracy and human rights use stealth and surveillance to compromise our privacy rights and to exploit our personal information. At the same time technology has opened the door to more propaganda, plagiarism, malicious abuse, rumour and speculation.” 


The EJN site contains materials on the role of journalism and why ethics are an antidote to the chaos, confusion and misinformation of modern communications. There the key values that drive journalism, are outlined, and it provides an explanation of how it differs from free expression and why ethical media can inspire a new era of responsible free expression.


EJN produces detailed reports that focus on the challenges of modern journalism and, in partnership with the Missouri School of Journalism, has launched the world’s first interactive and extensive database on self-regulation, ethics and standards for media – Accountable Journalism. Numerous other resources  can be found in the EJN website, .

EJN’s work is free for use by editors, managers, journalists, students, teachers and anyone who believes in the core values of journalism.

Aidan White argues that the work of the EJN to strengthen journalism and promote communications based on voluntary principles of restraint and respect, tolerance and transparency will be crucial to secure the future of journalism.

Adapted from an article by Aidan White. 



Alka Hingorani teacher in film, photography and story-telling

I am Associate Professor at IDC-School of Design, IIT-Bombay, Powai, Mumbai, India. A photographer and art historian, my interests in Indian art lie geographically in the lower Himalayas, and thematically in issues of aesthetics and identity. 

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

I have always been a bit of learning-teaching junkie. I spent a good part of my life as a Graduate Student (and, consequently, a Graduate Student Instructor) at the University of California, Berkeley.

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

Almost everything about it is awesome: creating a safe space for students to read, write, think, analyze, trip over their own thoughts, recover, eyes shining, as they walk the tight-rope of doubt and rumination again! It is all both challenging and satisfying. The other aspect that is fun and formidable is time and resources for research. My own is currently in the area of education: content design for English language learning in resource-constrained areas, with an emphasis on equipping and allowing children to become content creators rather than mere consumers. We collaborate on storytelling, storyboarding, book illustration, book design, and short animation films (work-in-progress) based on those books and stories. It’s a dream!

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

I love the company of students, the promise and reality of friendships and collaborations across disciplines in a place like IIT. I deeply dislike the hierarchical structure of decision-making and the huge burden of inconsequential administrative work, beyond the call of reason.

What are your long-term goals?

To forever be amongst students.

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

If you don’t love it, leave it. Teaching is never going to make you money; you do it because you could not easily live without it.

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

Luckily, an interest in a variety of different disciplines including photography, architecture, art history, evolutionary biology, cosmology—science, in general, I suppose, a love for photography, film (esp. analyses), and for making things: pottery, woodworking, origami are special joys, though I’m a novice at each.

Alka’s book on her work with mohras and mohra-makers in Himachal Pradesh is called Making Faces: Self and Image Creation in a Himalayan Valley (University of Hawai’i Press, 2013; Niyogi Books, New Delhi, 2013). More information on the book here.


The Inaugural IAWRT African Film Festival introduced an amazing diversity of black women: trendy fashonistas in Manhattan; a woman who takes on champion wrestlers in a Burkina Faso village; an Egyptian woman taking us through the unrest and a South African ‘virgin-vegan’. Women questioned or tested their relationships, their sexuality, and women’s roles in their homes, in their cultures and in politics.

The well curated presentation of features and documentaries at the Bioscope in Johannesburg, South Africa, on the 28th and 29th of October, 2016, featured African based and expatriate women producers, along with two IAWRT produced international documentaries. It well and truly addressed the lack of diversity and women’s voices in film, with passion humour and skill.

Members of IAWRT from around the world attended opening night at the independent film house in trendy Fox St, Maboneng, which featured Africa’s first screening of the acclaimed film In the Morning, directed by Nefertite Nguvu (pic left with  Sara Chitambo, South African IAWRT Chapter head and Regional Conference and film festival team-leader). 

The delegates had come from several days of stimulating discussion about strategies to reduce the under-representation of women in African media, both as content producers and sources of stories. The limited range of portrayals of women is constantly being battled (and addressed) in numerous innovative ways by female media professionals. However, the power of independent producers to break down barriers was wonderfully portrayed at this film festival.

Nguvu’s debut feature-film examining love, friendship and marriage and it’s change and decline in a group of nine friends, took place over the course of 24 hours in Brooklyn, New York. The U.S. director told the audience that the crowd- funded drama was partially promoted by her exhaustion with the one-dimensional portrayal of black women on US Television. She wanted to examine love and its dimensions, through “regular folk”. And she simply wanted to examine the timeless questions about love.



Members of the audience were appreciative of her ability to create likeable, multi-dimensional black male characters who did not live lives of constant violent conflict. In the Morning has received a number of accolades including the jury award for ‘Best International Film’ at Siena, Italy’s 1st annual Terra Di Siena Film Festival “for the great ability in directing a convincing ensemble … with great skill and direction, penetrating into the depths of human soul.” 

The audience was taken on a completely different direction with a much lower budget, village-based documentary, The Fight Goes On by Laurentine Bayala from Burkina Faso. Notwithstanding the title, it was not dealing with the wider conflict in that country, but the universal violence of the uneven division of labour in the home between males and females. The ensuing battle, both physical and psychological, between the macho wrestlers of the village and their strong wives ended with an unrepentantly gentle twist.

Another award-winning film from an expatriate director, Cameroon born Canadian, Dorothy Atabong, Sounds of Tears, is a heart-breaking portrayal of forbidden love and the perpetuation of patriarchal notions of shame, which lead to murders by family members. So-called honour killings are continuing even in more liberal cultures such as Canada.

The South African section, in many ways had a lighter touch, whilst again effectively highlighting the frustrations and loneliness associated with cultural and religious impositions on women.  The three selections were funded by the National Film and Video Foundation, an agency of the South African Department of Arts and Culture, as part of the Blingola female filmmaker project.

The delightful short film, A Groom’s Price by Mmabatho Monthso, has Meme and her two aunties, who she dragoons in to help her, using her own finances to pay a groom price for her long-term boyfriend, Musa. He cannot propose because he can’t afford the bride price. The quirky short film pokes fun at the continued existence of Lobola (originally it was paying a bride price in cattle) in the modern South African economy.

In the wonderfully titled Virgin Vegan, Reabetswe Moeti also approaches women making their own choices. The sitcom writer uses her skills to tell a story about the diaspora and young people challenging cultural understandings , with a large dose of familial love. Our hero Thato returns to her township in Limpopo province to face a huge table of carfully prepared meats prepared to celebrate her return from the UK with an Masters in Business Administration. Unfortunatley she has changed and now observes a strict vegan diet, while her family expects her to lead their butchery business. Of course, misunderstandings lead to things going hilariously awry, when her family mishears ‘vegan’ as for “virgin” and tries to ‘fix’ the problem.

The delicate and moving UNomalanga and the Witch, the winner of the Best Short Film Award in 2015 at the Durban International Film Festival, took a more gentle turn. it was revealing about the loneliness of outsiders, and women trying to fulfil roles they may not be meant for.  It portrays a friendship between a newly married woman and a mysterious neighbour who is shunned by the local community. Ultimately the relationship develops into love and desire, in a community which is unlikely forgive their transgressions.

The festival also gave voice to a Queer women project, playing a loop of Straightup Media’s Pink Shorts between films. The group responsible, Jen, Keke, Dez, Didi and Dutwice have shot ten episodes this year, mostly featuring the queer women answering questions as ‘regular folk’ on everything from being single, to gender roles, to who likes what in the bedroom. (available on YouTube). 

The feature film The Trace of the Butterfly brought the audience back to the pain of loss and bravery of those involved in the civil unrest and the consequent killings of demonstrators which Egyptians suffered after the 25 January revolution. The award winning documentary by Amal Ramsis begins after the massive response to the death of Mina Daniel eight months later, at the Maspero massacre in October 2011. It traces the impact of the death of an activistw ho styled himself after his hero Che Gevara, through his surviving sister, Mary.

The director’s interest was piqued by Mary publicly accusing the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) of killing her brother and 27 other Coptic Christians during a peaceful march. Mary had held a red flag with Mina’s photo on it, in every march, since then. The Trace of the Butterfly was shot over two years of unrest, providing an intimate view of  many activists of all religions, who are not generally known as heroes, at home and in the streets, .

In the process the film documents the sufferings and struggles that women go through in a society like Egypt, along with the pain of losing someone close, and the ways of dealing with it.

The Festival also showcased IAWRT’S documentaries Reflecting her  (available by contacting [email protected]) and Hands on – Women Change – women seeking solutions which can be viewed here.

Media coverage:



Ananya 2016_edited-1

A new challenge

Ananya Chakraborti, the Vice President of IAWRT International, has accepted a new position as the Chairperson of the West Bengal  Commission for the Protection of Child Rights. Ananya says she is looking forward to the challenging assignment.

The state government body exists under the National Commission for Protection of Child rights, which was formed in 2005. She expects the most challenging aspects to be twofold: to ensure that every child gets access to education, and every child is safe from any form of abuse, sexual or otherwise.

Now in its third year of operation, the state commission has the broad mandate to protect the rights of all children, regardless of income or social status.  The work of the six-member (plus Chairperson) commission covers the entire state of Bengal which includes one of the largest cities in India, its capital Kolkata, and has a population of over 91 million people. It is bordered by the countries of Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan and is constantly coping with the challenges of migration and trafficking.

The organisation has the functions of both monitoring the effective use of numerous laws to protect children, and educating to make protection of children a central part of social culture, not just the law. The West Bengal state’s second Child Protection Day was an example of this type of role, in 2016 the theme was “stop child labor, start education”. Media report here.

The Commission has the power to receive and investigate complaints, recommend prosecution or action, initiate court test cases or investigate any violations of children’s rights. It engages in data collection and research, regularly reporting publicly and to government. This work fed into the National Commission on issues such as the right of children to education and health, protection against sexual crimes, forced child labor, child marriages, juvenile justice and investigating how authorities, such as Police, respond to crimes against children or minors.

Ms Chakraborti, who worked extensively on trafficking in South Asia through an IAWRT funded project for five years, says she is looking forward to doing further work for trafficked minors through this new position.

She was selected for the role of Commission Chairperson after a career which has included over twenty years as a journalist in print and television media, as an award winning documentary film maker, media educator and researcher.

Apart from this responsibility, Ananya will be a member of the West Bengal Woman’s Commission and also Chair the Kolkata District complaints committee to prevent, investigate and redress sexual harassment in the workplace for women. 

“I thank IAWRT and FOKUS for supporting me in my trafficking project. I have strong reasons to believe that the work that I did during those five years was partly instrumental in making the State of West Bengal consider me for this position.”