hathairat in rohingya camp

The story of a broadcast journalist who has struggled for the inclusion of women’s voices in the media amidst military rule in Thailand

Ilang-Ilang Quijano

The  upcoming 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women, in March, is reviewing the progress world governments have made to ensure women’s access to the media and technologies. It also will examine the use of media as an instrument for the advancement and empowerment of women. This is just one story of what happen on the ground.

“Right now, my country is a land of fear.” said Hathairat Phaholtap, a senior reporter of Thai PBS (Public Broadcasting Service); she is unafraid to say what she has been trained to say: the truth.

“There is so much censorship in Thai media. Most TV stations censor themselves, some newspapers are more brave. Basically, the media is highly controlled.”

Hathairat has been a journalist for the past 15 years. The first newspaper she wrote for, Naewna (Leader of People), assigned her to covering the Parliament. Saying that she “got bored” with the standard political coverage, she quit and worked briefly for a public relations firm. However, she went back to journalism—“I feel like it’s in my blood,” she said.

She worked as a producer for PBS’ Hard Talk program, but eventually asked to become a field reporter. She was covering stories related to politics, human rights and corruption when things took an abrupt turn in Thailand. In 2014, a military coup deposed the elected government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and installed a junta.

Hathairat could not forget those days: Thai PBS, along with 24 other television channels, were shut down by the military. Suddenly, she found herself unable to use the airwaves.

Her journalistic instinct took over: she recorded videos of herself reporting the tumultuous scenes happening in Bangkok’s streets and uploaded them on social media—Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube. Without TV as a source of information, these online videos went viral. “At that time, the people were hungry for information. They wanted to know more. I felt that the Internet was good and used it a lot,” Hathairat said.

Eventually, the TV stations were allowed back on air. However, they could not operate in the same way; there was a lot of intimidation by the military establishment. Television executives were taken inside military camps for “attitude adjustment.”

Hathairat recalled an instance wherein military personnel stayed in the television studio for one month. They asked to see the scripts and the rundown of the TV programs. “This made us feel pressured. We couldn’t report outside of their (military) framework,” she said.

One year after the coup, Hathairat produced a documentary, which was seen as critical of the military junta. “A lot of people told me, why did you need to do that?”, explaining that many of her colleagues were scared that the Thai government would cut funding to the TV station, and that they might lose their jobs.

Like other journalists, she has had her share of online harassment as well — especially after public reaction to an interview with the country’s exiled ex-prime minister. “My rule is, don’t engage the trolls,” she said.

As a woman journalist, she knows what it’s like to be discriminated against, when asking for assignments in conflict areas that her bosses deem to be more suited to men. “I asked to be sent to Marawi (Philippines) when the conflict with ISIS erupted, but my boss said it was too dangerous for a woman,” Hathairat said.

Still, she is persistent in asking to be sent to places in the thick of conflict. She claims that she could be even more hardworking than her male counterparts. “Cameramen don’t want to work with me, because I work day and night. I work too much,” she said, laughing.

The last assignment that challenged and touched her as a journalist was the Rohingya crisis. After convincing her bosses that she was the right woman for the job, she was sent to Cox’bazar in Bangladesh. Straddling the border of Myanmar. Thousands of Rohingyas have fled here.

“They need help, they need shelter and medicine. They want to go back home but they have no land to live in,” she said of the Muslim refugees caught in the conflict.

She saw around 100 Rohingyas lying in a hospital corridor, waiting to be given medical attention.  A five-year-old girl who was burned — a sight she will never forget.

Hathairat longs for freedom of the press and expression in Thailand, but is  concerned about a proposed law that will strengthen military control of the media. “Under the proposed law, journalists would need to get licenses from the government before they can practice. Current laws also disallow citizens from criticizing the king, and people have been arrested for doing so.”

“Right now, my country is a land of fear. Personally, I cannot accept it. A lot of us hope that this will change,” Hathairat said.

Flourence PP

Journalist and Marketer 


What type of projects do you do?

Writing stories on women and marketing work.

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

Being a woman got me interested and it was all started by the conference I first attended about Women in Media.

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

When women talk about their actual stories and life experiences.

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

Journalism is almost a full-time job with no time to rest, but what is interesting about the job is getting to know about people’s life stories.  We learn much from others and also make connections.

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

Writing, interviewing and research

What are your long-term goals?

Being an advocate for women.

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

Young women should be ready to work with passion in all the kinds of work they are tasked to do.

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

The safety of women is very important as we do the work and it should always come first.

Celebrating the creative works of women filmmakers from across Asia
Archana Kapoor
5-7 March 2018, New Delhi, 73 outstanding films from 20 countries featured.

Screenings of films ‎cutting across genres will be followed by interactive sessions with filmmakers who are present in the audience. Eight foreign filmakers and 21 from India have confirmed their presence at the festival.
A brief of the activities:
  • Film Screenings from 9am -9 pm at C D Deshmukh Auditorium IIC, 5-7 March‎ 2018
  • ‘Weavi‎ng Peace ‘ A women’s Perspective Seminar on women and conflict resolution on 7 March 10 .30am @MultiPurpose Hall  Kamla Devi Block IIC 
  • ‘Voice Studio’ a seminar‎ on youth and democracy 1.30 pm @MultiPurpose Hall,Kamla Devi Block IIC
  • Camera Sound Workshop with Fowzia‎ Fathima and Shalini Agarwal 4-7 March Conference room #1 (by registration only)
  • Filmy Adda 11am-1.30 pm‎ @Conferance room #1, IIC  (Kindly register if you are interested )
  • With Nupur Basu ‎’Pitching For Documentaries -getting that win win combination’ ‎-5th March 2018
  • With Nina Sabnani ‘Animated Documentaries ‘‎ – 6 March 2018
  • With Paromita Vohra ‘Use of new media for making feminist art’ – 7 March,2018
The inaugural of the Festival will take place on March 5 at 6 pm with a felicitation of Dr. Aruna Vasudev, an eminent scholar of Asian Cinema.This will be followed by ‎the screening of ‘Clair Obscur’, a film directed by the highly acclaimed film maker Turkish Yesim Ustaoglu examining the parallel possibilities for women in moden Turkey. Yesim will be at the festival and will have a conversation with Bina Paul soon after the screening of the film
For further ubdates do follow us on :
IAWRT is joining the #MeToo campaign and taking advantage of this year’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) to call on the Member States of the United Nations to address issues of online harassment and violence against women, particularly journalists.
The CSW, is a global intergovernmental body which meets at the United Nations, 12 to 24 March to form guidelines on policies to improve women’s staus – this year the focus is rural women and a review of women’s role in and on the media.
IAWRT President Violet Gonda, an award-winning journalist who recently returned home to Zimbabwe after 17 years in exile, told IAWRT web “Even though the Beijing Platform for Action has a mandate on women and the media, this has never been implemented.”
IAWRT will use this opportunity to publicise its Safety Handbook for Women Journalists.This year’s theme will give IAWRT the opportunity to profile its action-oriented projects, such as safety training and empowerment through community radio, at various events.
Its main workshop is aimed at creating guidelines for media organizations to protect female journalists. IAWRT is calling for the creation of robust industry-wide guidelines on how media organizations should protect their female employees from sexualized and/or gender cyber violence.
The #MeToo campaign underpins discussion in the IAWRT – Genderlinks event, #Metooonline – Workshopping Solutions to Counter Cyber Violence Against Women. which aims to kickstart to process of getting the media industry to put such protections in place. 
IAWRT is involved with six separate events being held in tandem with the CSW, and the immediat past President Gunillaa Ivarsson is moderating a GAMAG session on policies and research in Gender and Media.

14 March Parallel Event 4.30 pm

Beyond A Pretty Face: Tackling Gender Bias In Media Industries


14 March Parallel Event 4.30 pm

Media And Information Technologies : A Double-edged Sword For Women’s Advancement


16 March Parallel Event 1030 am

#MetooOnline: Workshopping Solutions To Counter Cyber Violence Against Women


22 March Side event 10am

Making Information And Communication Technologies Work For Gender Justice


22 March Side Event 10am

Safe Journalists, Strong Democracies: How On And Offline Attacks On Women Journalists Are Hurting Us All


23 March Side event 1.15 pm

Community Media Broadcasters: Building Capacities For Amplifying Voices Of Rural Women

“So at long last, the CSW is reviewing women’s access to media and information and communications technologies and their use for empowerment, so it’s important for IAWRT as a media organisation to participate and highlight challenges facing media women in conflict ”
IAWRT will be contributing to the workshop  Media And Information Technologies: A Double-edged Sword For Women’s Advancement on March 14. This parallel session organised by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) and CPJ is examining what achievements there have been in women’s participation in, and access to the media, in the last 15 years.
At the same time, IAWRT USA partners with Zonta International, to examine progress on the 1995 Beijing mandate. Beyond A Pretty Face: Tackling Gender Bias In Media Industries. This workshop will include award-winning senior journalists and gender scholar and IAWRT board member, Diana Nastasia, and will focus on how to identify gender bias in media, and how to advocate for balanced depictions of women.
It will be a high powered panel; Jennifer Adams, the Project Officer for Safety of Female Journalists Online from OSCE, (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) the Gender links CEO Colleen Lowe, Dr. Michelle Farrier of Ohio University – and ‘troll-Busters Pest Control’ to counter cyber-violence against journalists and Dr Dubravka Simonovic, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women.
“The popularity gained through the launch of the IAWRT Safety Handbook for Women Journalists and other events has attracted numerous organizations seeking partnership with IAWRT at the UN,” according to the USA chapter head, Sheila Katzman.” CSW and UN women have encouraged such partnerships to show strength”, she says.
For the first time, IAWRT delegates will be involved in three Side Events in UN headquarters. Abeer Saady, the author of the safety handbook and Chair of the IAWRT CSW organising committee, says partnering with like-minded NGO’s, “has enabled us to present and participate in an unprecedented number of events” (Side events involve government representatives collaborating with NGOs to present a topic speaking directly to governments).
Abeer, who is the IAWRT Vice President and a journalist safety trainer has accepted an invitaton to join a panel at the UNESCO side event, A Dent in Democracy: how on and offline attacks on women journalists are hurting us all, which will highlight the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Iissue of impunity.
The IAWRT Gender Links joint side event, Making Information and Communication Technologies Work for Gender Justice will workshop solutions to cyber violence problems, such as hacking targeting female journalists and attempts to destroy reputations. A digital gender and media-monitoring tool, developed by Gender Links, with assistance from Free Press Unlimited, will be presented.
IAWRT’s radio experts will be at a side event to speak to the CSW’s main theme rural women and girls. ‘The event, organised with the UN Department of Public Information, is Community media broadcasters: Building capacities for amplifying voices of rural women will include IAWRT board member, Archana Kapoor, an Indian community radio leader, and Sheila Katzman (former UN Chief of UN Radio and Public Information at DPKO).
So in March, watch out for reports from our delegates on our Facebook group International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT), on Twitter #CSW62 @iawrt and here, iawrt.org. Photo essay below CSW 2018 Delegates photographed by Nancy Cohen.

  • more iniital details on the events involving IAWRTwith links to the NGOCSW and CSW programs
  • events being run by another IAWRT partner organisation, the Global Alliance on Women in Media.
  • flyer to #MeTooOnline 

Tackling Gender Bias in Media Industries. Join Zonta International and the International Association of Women in Radio and Television – USA Chapter for this parallel event.

It will examine the progress that has been made on the Beijing Platform for Actions mandate regarding women and the media. Audience members will learn how to identify gender bias in media and how to advocate for balanced depictions of women in media industries.14 March 2018 10th Floor, Church Center, 777 United Nations Plaza, 4:30 p.m. EST

biennial report

The 2017 Biennial Conference Report is now  available

The 2017 Biennial was held in Quezon City in The Philippines in November 2017. Proceedings highlighted the core issues that women in media face while covering the war on terrorism, the war on drugs in The Philippines and reporting natural disasters and their aftermath. The Safety Handbook for Women Journalists was launched and a new IAWRT Board and new President were elected.

Report produced by Communications Officer, Geeta Sahai. [email protected] See attached, or go to the Publications tab of iawrt.org.

Rapporteurs notes available to member’s in downloads.