women making news in a world riven with conflict and dictatorial regimes

The IAWRT board has set aside funding for the screening of Velvet Revolution 

and is accepting chapter and,later, individual member proposals for screening of our film about women making news, despite adversity. 

Such activities must be non-commercial and may include workshops or panel discussions about the gender, media freedom and safety issues raised in this collaborative film

Since its completion in February 2017 Velvet Revolution has been screened at the  IAWRT Asian Women’s Film Festival in India, a paralel session at the 2016 CSW in New York, the IAWRT Nepal Women’s Film Festival, World Press Freedom Day events in London and New Delhi and at Amnesty International’s International Secretariat in London.. It has also screened at UNIC and UN Women in Delhi and at the International Short and Documentary Film Festival in Thiruvananthapuram in the Indian state of Kerala.

See the attachment for details.


Location: Industrial Design Centre, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay

Name of job: Professor

What type of projects do you do?

I make animated films and illustrated books for children. My approach to filmmaking is ethnographic.  In my films I explore the potential of animation film to represent and interpret nonverbal (sensorial) texts produced by participants, from within their aesthetic space. I collaborate with communities that have their own visual language and stories that they want to tell. I bring in my strengths as a film maker and animator and they bring in their art and approach to life.

I use a similar approach while illustrating books for children and young adults. I find the dynamics between words and images very exciting and challenging.

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

I love real life stories and I really like meeting people from all walks of life. I was always more interested in biographies than fiction. I find my work allows me that intensity of experience and engagement without guilt of being voyeuristic. For the period that I work together with a community, in that liminal space, we experience a sense of being equal and share our art, thoughts, and life stories.  It may have been a part of my life for a long time, although in terms of an informed method it may have started ten years ago.

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

The most exciting part is the interaction and the co–creation of a story. This  is when we bring together all the shared knowledge, our observations from life and being in the same space. The most challenging part is putting it together in animation that retains all that experience, ensuring it is true to their art and speaks to everyone.

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

Being an academic my interactions with mainstream animation is very limited. My work also does not fall into that space, since animation is generally accepted as humorous, entertaining and child-friendly.  My work in illustrated books has a lot of interaction with the publishing industry, which I find very challenging as well as satisfying.

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

Areas of knowledge: Storytelling, animation, illustration, research; Personality traits: curious, people-friendly, enthusiastic, optimistic, have team spirit, committed.

Has IAWRT’s network of media women around the world helped or inspired you?

Yes. Through IAWRT I have met some of the most brave, dynamic and inspiring women from different parts of the world. Their work encourages mine and their spirit motivates mine.

What are your long-term goals?

My goal or dream is to create a network of communities with whom I have worked and bring them together. Then, through such interactions create a film with them, which will explore multiple visual voices and ways of telling.

What special advice do you have for young women seeking to qualify for this type of work?

Such type of work requires passion and a love for people. We also need to be open to all ways of thinking and being. Sometimes our worldviews may clash and that is possibly because of what different experiences each individual is exposed to and our different ways of living. One person’s reality is fiction to the other. For this kind of work one needs to suspend judgment and continue to work without compromising one’s own ethics or beliefs.

Do you have any special words of warning, or encouragement, because of your experience?

It is the most beautiful and heart-warming space to be in.  It teaches you a lot about life, about yourself and others. You make friends with people who would otherwise never cross your paths and from you would miss learning about the beauty of the world.

Links to some work online.  

Nina Sabnani You Tube

Personal website 

International Women Media enhanced CADD

The hard work of the Philippines chapter paid off in spades at IAWRT’s 2017 Biennial 9  to 11 November 2017.


It was held in Quezon City, the largest city in Metro Manila. 

IAWRT-Philippines ensured the conference was a dialogue between local organizations and movements which are women-led or involve substantial female participation, and women in media from all over the world.

Activist visual artist Federico Sulapas Dominguez (also known as BoyD) who is known for work that depicts the struggles of women, farmers, indigenous peoples and other marginalized sectors, povided the Biennial design and perfomed for the delegates. 

The planning committee chaired by the IAWRT Treasurer, Violet Gonda, and international board members, Abeer Saady and Iphigénie Marcoux Fortier worked with the Philippines chapter to finalize the agenda. It includes timely presentations on challenges for Philipino women journalists, women covering wars on terrorism, and women in the media covering disasters as well as the launch of the IAWRT Safety handbook for women journalists. (see full program below) 

pic: Some of our hosts; photographed by Jo Maline Manangum; courtesy of Kodao Productions)

IAWRT President Gunilla Ivarsson says the board felt the Philippines was a very natural choice – “IAWRT-Philippines has done a very good job with restarting and rebuilding the local chapter. It is very active, creative and the members do their work with great credibility and responsibility”.

“One of IAWRT’s most exciting recent activities is happening in the Philippines where the chapter and its head, Jola Diones-Mamangum, is working on the mobile disaster response radio project – also a good reason for conferencing in the Philippines” she said.

The head of IAWRT-Philippines says, “more than three years of rebuilding the chapter is bringing together a committed group of broadcasters whose journalism tries to bring under-reported issues to the fore.”  Jola wants to show the world the situation for the media and women in the Philippines and that will be the theme of  the 3 day conference.

“The Philippines prides itself as Asia’s first republic and as a democracy with a vibrant press and mass media sector.  Beneath the veneer of an inclusive society, however, are festering issues” she says.

“Poor women lead the fight in occupying vacant government housing as well as vast tracts of land in the control of landlords.  In other parts of the country, women ‘contractual’ workers die in factory fires without government attempts to even list down their names.  In disaster-hit areas, women bear the brunt of problems brought about by government inaction on forced relocation, joblessness, sexual and human trafficking and the lack of social services.”

Jola says one of the most urgent issues to highlight is the approach to news by the corporate media. “Struggles by women for social justice meet with vitriolic campaigns in dominant mass media outfits and on social media.  It is a state of affairs that compels Filipino women broadcasters in radio and television to continuously redefine their journalism to better serve marginalized sectors in society, not the least of whom are poor women.”  

“We want to make the biennial event a showcase for the positive work that women in the media can do – as well as to recruit more members in both mainstream and alternative media –  through increasing the chapter’s profile.”

Topics include media and women and social justice; gender-based conflict reportage; women in natural disasters and covering the war on terror internationally along with the difficulties of reporting land based conflict in the Philippines.

Time has been set aside to screen or feature media productions, including this year’s IAWRT documentary – Velvet Revolution.  The IAWRT board has heard comments from members coming to the biennial, that they want to have more time for screenings. IAWRT members who want their work to be shown should send an online link to [email protected] This is open to members regardless of wether they will attend. Stay tuned to our facebook site as some sessions will be live streamed. (pic: veteran Philippines joirnalist Inday Espina Varona, featured in Velvet Revolution)

An entire day will be dedicated to organizational development. The IAWRT President says the 2017 Biennial will be a bit special, “since we really must make the time to work on our internal development – modernizing the election process, conducting a strategic workshop around the evaluation report through FOKUS, and doing some creative and strategic thinking around fundraising and the Gender Mainstreaming Project.”

The President encourages members to start looking now for local sponsorship to help them attend the biennia ans spread the word about IAWRT. “Funders want something in return – so why not offer to organize a workshop/panel when you come back home -in return for the sponsorship – sharing the insights and the work and projects that we are doing.”

Journalists who are coming to the Philippines to report on the  ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) summit in Manilla, which is expecting the leaders of China, the US, Russia, India, Japan and Australia to attend, have a golden opportunity to to meet and learn about local issues from a Philippines perspective by attending the IAWRT Biennial beforehand. See you there in November! contact [email protected] for more detals.

About our Biennial Design Artist


Federico Sulapas Dominguez is known as BoyD  (boy dee) to friends and the progressive movement in the Philippines. He is a well-known progressive visual artist in the Philippines who was born in the municipality of Maluko, Province of Bukidnon in Mindanao. He is descended from the Tagalogs of Bulacan province in Luzon and Mandaya of Davao Oriental on his father’s side and natives of Surigao Del Norte on his mother’s side. He studied Architecture at the University of Mindanao and Fine Arts (Visual Communication) at the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

Among his favorite themes are the environment, agriculture, disaster-preparedness and social issues.

A master colorist, he is hailed for infusing indigenous and people’s culture in his paintings, drawings and murals, it is often said a Dominguez art piece could never be mistaken for anyone else’s. BoyD credits his decades of activism in the development of his award-winning and increasingly popular art.

An active member of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines, BoyD has been featured in solo and group exhibits in the Philippines and abroad. He currently works as a freelance graphic designer, art director, painter and illustrator. He is also a musician who plays the harmonica in concerts and mass mobilizations. BoyD was a recipient of the Asian Public Intellectual (API) Fellowship Grant from 2013 to 2014.


Six media murders in 2017

By Nonee Walsh

The Global Alliance on Media and Gender has added its voice to international NGO condemnation of the high murder rate of Mexican journalists.

In May, the broad daylight shooting of veteran crime reporter Javier Valdez from the Mexico City-based daily La Jornada, was followed quickly by the  wounding of Sonia Cordova and the death of her journalist son, Jonathan in a shooting in Autlan, in the neighboring state of Jalisco.They worked on the family run Semanario Costeno weekly magazine.

Protests erupted in several Mexican cities. (pic: Candles for Freedom of the press: Mexico City. Protoplasmakid / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0) and a number of prominent Mexican news outlets went dark for a “Day Without Journalism” to protest the murder of Valdez and  journalists across the country. They blacked out sites or only published stories about journalist murders.

The continued brazen killings of media workers this year have included the death of Miroslava Breach, a 54-year-old correspondent for Chihuahua’s La Jornada, who was shot in her car as she prepared to take her son to school. It was reported that the last story she worked on was about drug cartels covertly backing mayoral candidates.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) says that when journalists cover subjects linked to organized crime or political corruption (especially at the local level) they immediately become targets and are often executed in cold blood. “Most of these crimes go unpunished, with Mexico’s pervasive corruption accounting for the impunity” it says. 

Last year a record 11 journalists were killed, according to the freedom of expression NGO, Articulo 19.

Mexico has become the third most dangerous country in the world for journalists, after Syria and Afghanistan. It is the western hemisphere’s deadliest country for media workers. RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index ranked Mexico at 147 out of 180 countries. Articulo 19 says 105 journalists have been murdered since 2000. Scores of journalists have disappeared.

GAMAG says a serious problem is the vulnerability suffered by Mexican journalists, particularly women, because of widespread violence and intimidation. Women’s Communication and Information (CIMAC) which covers Mexico and Central America, says women journalists receive threats against themselves and their children as an intimidation tactic.

Violence to prevent women journalists from exercising freedom of expression

Mexico is well known for unprosecuted sexual assaults on women, and female journalist are expecially succeptable to sexual assualts – physically and by cyber attack.

GAMAG says that The First Report on Violence Against Women Journalists, published by CIMAC,  found that in recent years, 433 women journalists in Mexico have been victims of gender-based violence. Between 2005 and 2017, 19 women journalists were murdered. 

“It [The CIMAC report] shows that often it is the state apparatus that tries to intimidate women; in Mexico, 60% of aggressors are government officials. Most of these journalists covered corruption and links between government and organized crime. Thus, violence is the mechanism to prevent women journalists from exercising freedom of expression in patriarchal societies like Mexico.”

A sector to investigate attacks on Mexico’s press has been in place for more than a decade. Since 2010, the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE) has received 798 complaints about serious physical violence against journalists, 47 of them murders. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports that only three of the complaints have resulted in convictions and sentences. It concludes, “the impunity is almost total”.

Estimates vary, but it is thought that 30 Mexican journalists have been murdered in connection with their work since December 2012, when Peña Nieto began his presidential term with the promise of a new order.

“Every crime against a journalist is an attack on freedom of expression and on society as whole” 

These were Peña Nieto’s words on 19 May 2017 at a meeting of 24 Mexican state governors and officials.  Articulo 19 says this was was his first public reaction to the wave of journalist killings. The President announced a series of measures to provide journalists with more protection and to combat impunity for crimes of violence against them. He promised “As president, I assure you that we will act with firmness to arrest and punish those responsible” Official statement .

In a cautious response, RSF “took note” of the pledge. We welcome the undertakings given by President Peña Nieto and we expect them to be followed up by action,” said Balbina Flores, RSF’s representative in Mexico. “We will remain vigilant and will closely monitor the implementation of the announced measures, which are very urgent, given the terrible violence to which journalists have been exposed for more than a decade.”.

 The Global Alliance on Media and Gender says it “strongly calls on the Mexican authorities to investigate these killings and to ensure that the perpetrators are not left unpunished.”

“The GAMAG calls on news media owners to ensure safe and secure conditions for the journalists they employ.”

The horrendous situation in Mexico, along with the extra pressure on Mexico’s female media workers is by no means unique, with the RSF accompanying the release of the 2017 World Press Freedom Index with a somber warning.  “We have reached the age of post-truth, propaganda, and suppression of freedoms – especially in democracies.”

“The index highlights the danger of a tipping point in the state of media freedom, especially in leading democratic countries.”

RSF argues that journalism is being weakened by democracy’s erosion.

Other media on women in Mexico.

Is this the most dangerous place to be a female journalist right now? by Andalusia Knoll Solof

Mexican journalists say no to silence and yes to death  by Ann Deslandes

Dangerous Work: Female Journalists in Mexico Women across Frontiers


Two IAWRT India Chapter members in prestigious awards

The animation section of India’s most prominent film accolade, the National Film Awards has been won by Nina Sabnani.

She won the Rajat Kamal award for for best animation film ‘Hum Chitra Banate Hai or We Make Images.The judging panel described it as “A playfully warm story that brings to life India’s traditional art by incorporating it innovatively in the animation itself.”  

Nina curated the animation segment in the 13th IAWRT Asian Film Festival held in New Delhi in March 2016. In 2015, she co-designed the beautiful IAWRT Biennial conference schedule with Priyanka Chhabra, which used paintings by the same Bhil artist, Sher Singh Bhi.

Nina is an artist and film storyteller and is currently Professor at the Industrial Design Centre, IIT Bombay.

The film We make Images is an animated interpretation of an origin myth from the Bhil community in Madhya Pradesh – Adivasi tribal people of central India.


Another active member of the IAWRT India Chapter, Anjali Monteiro and her spouse,K.P. Jayassankar, received a special mention in the best book on cinema section of the Nationals for A fly in the Curry an exploration of independent documentary films in India

Both are Professors and award-winning documentary filmmakers at the School of Media and Cultural Studies, Tata Institute of
Social Sciences, Mumbai.

Their book revisits the relationships between film-makers and their narratives and “sets new standards in form and context in cinema studies” according to the judges of the 64th National Film awards.

The awards were established in 1954, and are now administered, by India’s Directorate of Film Festivals. Full list of winners.

The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, presented the awards at a ceremony in New Delhi, on 3 May 2107. 

This was followed by the inauguration of the National Film Festival, where the award-winning films were screened for the public.


Media coverage: National Film Awards 2017: IIT Bombay Professor’s Animation Film Wins Rajat Kamal


“It is easy to feel humble before the struggle she has been performing”

The tireless crusade for freedom of expression of Najiba Ayubi from Afghanistan has been recognised by the Swedish Section of  Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in its annual Press Freedom prize.

Unfortunately she was unable to travel to Sweden to pick up her 1100 (USD approx) as she was working as  a jury member for the UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize and attending the associated conference being held in Jakarta, Indonesia. 

The independent jury had the sad task of unanimously recommending that the 2017 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize* go to a journalist who may not even be alive. It goes to  Dawit Isaak, an imprisoned Eritrean-Swedish journalist, “in recognition of his courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression.”

Mr. Isaak was arrested with other journalists in a crackdown on Eretrian media in September 2001. Independent media hasbeen banned in Eretria since then. Despite ‘quiet diplomacy’ by the government of Sweden, “The last time he was heard from was in 2005 [and] his present location is unknown.” according to UNESCO.

Eritrea is at the bottom of the RSF press freedom index. Afghanistan is placed at 120 out of 180 countries. In Afghanistan, Najiba Ayubi has faced down many verbal attacks on her reporting about politics and women’s’ rights, and there have been some physical attacks on her home and radio stations, since her return after the fall of the Taliban in 2001. 

As the head of Killid Media Group, she remains active in charting the future of Afghanistan, according to the Swedish section of RSF.  It said “Najiba Ayubi is working in a country where it is almost impossible working as a journalist. Her fight is an inspiration all over the world, and she is herself an evidence of the difference a journalist can create.”

“Reporters Without Borders is very proud to give this year’s prize to Najiba Ayubi. It is easy to feel humble before the struggle she has been performing for so many years, against both Taliban and traditional structures” says Jonathan Lundqvist, Chair of the Swedish RSF.

IAWRT President of Gunilla Ivarsson, added her congratulations. “We are proud to have Najiba as a member for several years, and we are well aware of the fantastic and dangerous work she is doing for freedom of expression in her country.”

“I also want to add that  Najiba is one of the journalists speaking about her work conditions in the IAWRT documentary, Velvet Revolution, that is being screened in London and New Delhi as part of World Press Freedom Day activities.”

Najiba has previously been recognised by the International Women’s Media Foundation, which awarded her a Courage in Journalism award in 2013. In 2014 she was recognised as one of the 100 Information Heroes by RSF.

The $25,000 Prize is named in honour of Guillermo Cano Isaza, a Colombian journalist who was assassinated in front of the offices of his newspaper, El Espectador, in Bogotá, on 17 December 1986. It is funded by the Cano Foundation (Colombia) and the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation (Finland)