Parallel Event on the Safety of Women Journalists

Our Stories, Our Struggles: Strengthening Safety Mechanisms for Women in Media

March 19, 2024, 10:30 a.m. Chapel of the Church Center for the United Nations (CCUN)

International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) Philippines


The IAWRT chapter in the Philippines connects journalists, researchers, filmmakers and academics through training programs, research and publications, and different events that provide a venue for exchange and collaboration. The Philippine chapter is composed of female editors, journalists, journalism and communication educators, filmmakers and researchers from different parts of the country—a diverse community working toward addressing challenges faced by women in and around the media and maximizing opportunities for the development of the same. As of November 2023, IAWRT Philippines has over 55 active members from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

IAWRT Philippines has implemented and pioneered the Digital Safe House project, which connects women journalists under attack to relevant programs and services they need. The Philippine chapter also participated in the multi-stakeholder, participatory crafting of the Philippine Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists.

Parallel Event Overview

The 68th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), from March 11 to 22, 2024, follows the priority theme, “Accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective.” The session will also review the conclusions of the 63rd session, “Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.” In line with these, IAWRT Philippines’ parallel event for the 68th Session of the CSW aims to contribute to the acceleration of the achievement of gender equality and empowerment of women, particularly those in the newsroom, by promoting the strengthening of institutions’ safety policies and mechanisms.

Aside from IAWRT Philippines, representatives from IAWRT Afghanistan and USA will share their stories too.

The parallel event will run for 90 minutes–from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon–on March 19, 2024, Tuesday. It will be held at the Chapel of the Church Center for the United Nations (CCUN), 777 United Nations Plaza corner of 44th Street and 1st Avenue.

International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT ) Chapter India’s Asian Women’s Film Festival is held each year to mark International Women’s Day. This year the 19th edition of the Festival will take place 7-9 March 24 at India International Centre, New Delhi. 


50 films, across genres from 20 countries will be screened including a curated section of short films from Iran. A seminar ‘The Today and Tomorrow Documentary’ on Archiving at a time when everything has a digital afterlife, ‘Balancing Acts’ – a 3 day workshop on balancing storytelling and messaging for creators from diverse backgrounds will be held. A Masterclass with the acclaimed Palestinian Film maker Mai Masri from Lebanon and an upskilling session on editing with Amrita David(France) and Jabeen Merchant(India). A session on Consent and Law- exploring consent in a holistic manner will be coordinated by Anjali Moterio Member International Board are the other highlights.The opening film is ‘The Siren’ by Sepideh Farsi is on the human cost of war. Renowned film makers will present their films: Ms. Mai Masri (Lebanon)-Frontiers of Dreams and Feats’, Ms. Shin Su Won (South Korea)- ‘Homage’ and Ms. Amrita David ( France) – ‘Towards Tenderness’. Additionally, there will be exhibitions by Rafooghar and Alka Hingorani.

Text by: Department of Mass Communication, FCCU

A book on Safety Handbook for Women Journalists was launched at the Department of Mass Communication, FCCU on March 15. The book launch event was organized by Faculty of Humanities at Forman Christian College (A Chartered University) in collaboration with Journalism & Media International Center (JMIC), OsloMet – Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway. Dr. Douglas Trimble, Vice Rector for Academic Affairs at FCCU was the guest of honor on the occasion.

The book has been written by International War Correspondent and Media Trainer, Ms. Abeer Saady, and has been translated in Urdu by Ms. Sabahat Afsheen.

Dean of Humanities FCCU, Dr. Altaf Ullah Khan shared his views about the book. They said the Urdu version of the book will equip the women journalists of Pakistan to perform their duties efficiently and safely. The book launch event was moderated by Syed Muhammad Saqib, Assistant Professor at Department of Mass Communication, FCCU. Journalists, students and participants from Journalists Safety Workshop at FCCU attended the book launch.

*The IAWRT Safety Handbook is now available in English, Arabic, Turkish and Urdu.

By Maria Solita J. Virtudazo

On March 8, 2023, on the historic 113th year of the International Women’s Day commemoration, the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) in partnership with Journalism and Media International Center of OsloMet University in Norway, and in collaboration with UNESCO Headquarters, gathered, via Zoom, 69 women-journalists, media workers, and academics across the globe to highlight their stories and honor their courage, heroism, and resilience.

The online discussion-solidarity meeting aptly titled, Women in Media: Overcoming Adversity Together, opened with an introductory message from IAWRT President Dr. Michelle Ferrier. Dr. Elisabeth Eide, journalist, writer, and professor of Journalism Studies at OsloMet University in Norway was the moderator.

Five principled and intrepid women journalists, namely, Najiba Ayubi (Afghanistan), Alina Radu (Moldova), Alyona Nevmerzhytska (Ukraine), Rhea Padilla (Philippines), and Fatuma Matulanga (Tanzania) lent their voices on behalf of their colleagues. Each of them shared how they and other women journalists in their respective countries bravely stood against and endured oppression, war, armed conflict, red-tagging, political persecution and incarceration, radicalization and extremism, online trolling, hate speech, physical and sexual assault, among other forms of abuse.

Najiba Ayubi is an Afghan multi-awarded journalist, and human rights and press freedom activist. She is a recipient of the 2013 Courage in Journalism Award from the International Women’s Media, and was named one of the 100 Information Heroes by Reporters without Borders (Reporters sans frontières) in 2014. She lamented how Islamic extremism has been oppressive and destructive to women journalists, and women, in general, since the Taliban returned to power. She cited thousands of Afghans who fled the country at all costs to preserve their life. Unfortunately, some lost their lives in an attempt to save it. One of whom is an asylum seeker and journalist Torpekai Amarkhel, who was onboard a fleeing boat that capsized near Italy. Ms. Ayubi is the head of IAWRT Afghanistan Chapter and is also in exile in the United States.

Another award-winning investigative journalist from Moldova and managing director of the country’s independent newspaper Zairul de Garda (The Guard Newspaper) is Alina Radu. She shared how women journalists in their country have been marginalized and isolated. Facebook (FB) or Metaverse is inaccessible in Moldova. Thus, she enjoined FB to be sympathetic to women journalists and provide them access to social media, which has been tightly controlled by the government. Ms. Radu currently heads IAWRT Moldova Chapter.

Prominent Ukrainian journalist Alyona Nevmerzhytska, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of media outfit hromadske, explained that while their culture is not particularly oppressive to women, however, things went on a downward spiral since the Russian invasion in February 2022. The incessant air strikes and attacks on the country’s major cities triggered the exodus of around 5 million Ukraine nationals, mostly women and children. Those who remain in the country have to endure extreme living conditions and the ravages of war.

The Philippines’ Rhea Padilla, former National Coordinator of the People’s Alternative Media Network (Altermidya) deplored the red-tagging, political persecution, intimidation, and even killing of women journalists and media personalities. She raised the case of Tacloban City-based journalist and IAWRT member Frenchie Mae Cumpio, who has been in jail for over three years now for trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives, and terrorist financing. Ms. Cumpio was among the “Tacloban 5” human rights defenders who were raided and arrested at midnight of February 7, 2020. Her arrest and continued detention speak of insidious yet blatant attacks against journalists in the country, aimed at intimidating and silencing those who are critical in their reporting. Ms. Padilla then called on government authorities for the immediate release of Ms. Cumpio and colleagues.

Journalist Fatuma Matulanga is the CEO of Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation in Zanzibar and IAWRT Tanzania’s Chapter head. She shared how women in their country have been disproportionately represented in media. Most Media Studies graduates and professionals ended up as PR officers and spokespersons.  Women have been marginalized and paid less than their male counterparts, and are in dire need of training and retooling.        

Theresa Chorbacher of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Paris talked about the organization’s mandate to work on press freedom and its various legal, policy-making, and capability-building initiatives to promote the safety of women journalists worldwide, and address the issue of impunity. In 2022, UNESCO published “The Chilling”, a report of a three-year intensive study on online violence against women journalists in 15 countries, conducted by researchers from the US-based International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and the UK-based Centre for Freedom of the Media (CFOM). The report sheds light on the “evolving challenges faced by women journalists, identifies political actors as top perpetrators of online violence against women journalists using popular social media platforms, maps out the online-offline violence trajectory, and offers practical recommendations for intergovernmental organizations, States, Big Tech, the news industry, legal and judicial actors, and civil society”. Truly, the adversities faced by women journalists in and out of the newsroom may seem daunting and insurmountable. But we can overcome it if we unite and work together in this fight.

IAWRT India presents ‘I’m Living It’ on Gender, Climate Change Intersectionalities’ at Alliance Francaise, New Delhi, on 1-3 March 2023.

During the three-day workshop a group of 30 participants from very diverse backgrounds including women from marginalized communities such as tribal, urban and rural poor will join media students to learn how to make short films on mobile phones. 

About 10 women from tribal areas and 15 women and adolescent girls from underprivileged urban poor communities around Delhi will participate in the workshop. 

The skilling workshop is designed to teach the participants how to tell their stories about the ways in which climate change has impacted their lives and livelihoods with the help of these films.

Women journalists’ situation in Afghanistan

The International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) Afghanistan chapter launched at the 39th IAWRT Biennial Conference their report about the dangers, challenges and changes that female journalists have been facing in Afghanistan since August 2021. 

Called Lives, Jobs, Homeland: Afghan Women Lose it All, the report’s statistics are horrific for women journalists, who lost everything with the Taliban hardline Islamic regime. 

Every respondent to the survey reported threats and harassment since the takeover. One hundred percent — 100% of the respondents reported that they had received threats since the change of leadership.

IAWRT Philippines member and IAWRT Communications Officer Lady Ann Salem was nominated among five journalists and media outlets from around the world for the Independence Prize in the 30th Annual Press Freedom Awards of Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Fifteen journalists and media outlets including Salem were shortlisted for the three categories, the other two are Courage and Impact. Salem is the only nominee from the Philippines. 

Salem is nominated for the Independence Prize along with Tolo News from Afghanistan, Omar Radi from Morocco, Bettie K. Johnson Mbayo from Liberia, and Bolot Temirov from Kyrgyzstan.

The Prize for Independence is awarded to journalists, media or NGOs for resisting pressure (including financial, political, economic or religious pressure) or because of the values and rules that enable them to resist.

“She embodies journalism’s future in the Philippines, a new generation of journalists following the trail blazed by Maria Ressa,” RSF said of Salem.

Salem led the building of the IAWRT’s first digital safe house for women journalists, using her own experiences as a guide.  

Manila Today, her alternative media outfit in the Philippines, said they are “elated with the nomination and recognition of its editor who continues to face charges in connection to her imprisonment in 2020. The government sought to reverse the dismissal of the charges against her at the Court of Appeals in 2021, a case that is pending up to this day.” 

International Human Rights Day on December 10 this year will mark the 2nd year since Salem’s arrest. 

The RSF Press Freedom Awards will be presented in Paris on December 12 this year in a ceremony opened by 2021 Nobel Peace Laureate Dmitry Muratov. 

Karibu! Welcome from Tanzania, Zanzibar (and above the Earth as I type) where the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) concluded its 39th biennial and members’ meeting from 18-20 November that ushered in its new board and strategic agenda. Centered around three critical themes of conflict, climate change and COVID-19, delegates from 14 chapters spanning more than 55 countries shared strategies and reports of pressing issues around the globe. 

My sincere thanks to our host chapter and chapter head, Fatuma Matulanga, the head of Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation, TZB Zanzibar Office (Unguja and Pemba), Rose Haji Mwalimu, IAWRT Tanzania chapter advisor and the host team and program committee for creating a safe, engaging environment for our deliberations. I will personally be forever grateful for your grace under multiple, unforeseen pressures. I look forward to our continued partnership and growth of the chapter in Tanzania.

The 400-member strong international community of journalists, broadcasters, filmmakers, educators, media researchers and others hail from countries around the globe. Uganda. Kenya. Tanzania. Cameroon. South Africa. Norway. Philippines. United States of America. Cambodia. Moldova. Nepal. India. Iraq. Afghanistan.

No issue is more urgent than the lives of our members, many of whom have faced unprecedented challenges sustaining press freedoms in their countries, and have paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives and livelihoods.

Many of our Afghan chapter members are in exile, run from the airwaves and their country, on the takeover by the Taliban. Journalists and those representing civil society were targeted and the entire media family is kept under tight scrutiny. According to a survey conducted by Reporters without Borders, the working journalists corps has declined from 10,790 people working in Afghan media at the start of August 2021 to 4,360 working journalists by December 2021. For women journalists, the numbers are even more stark. Out of 2,490 women working before the Taliban takeover, only 410 women journalists remain. IAWRT Afghanistan chapter head, Najiba Ayubi, has been instrumental in negotiating with the Taliban to overturn the human rights restrictions, so women journalists can continue to inform, educate and report on their country’s most pressing issues — gender equality, media plurality and human rights. But media freedom remains a dream.

The AWRT-Kabul chapter shared their latest research on the conditions inside Afghanistan in the report Lives, Jobs, Homeland: Afghan Women Journalists Lose All, supported by Internews. Their survey of 308 respondents, all women, details the devastation to the media corps.

According to the survey, all 100 percent of the respondents reported that they have received some kind of threat since the takeover. The restrictions and threats have been particularly hard for women in provincial media. A majority of respondents (67.86%) reported that they have lost their jobs since the de facto authorities’ takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, with Bamyan, Kandahar and Balkh areas reporting high job losses and even the complete shutdown of media houses.

“My whole body shakes when I think of that time,” shared one Afghan chapter member, now in hiding with his family. Utilizing intimidation, pressure on extended family, threats, arrests, torture and killings, the Taliban tactics have caused journalists to flee or go underground, staying out of the public eye to protect themselves and their extended families.

Kreshma Fakhri, an Afghan journalist and newly elected IAWRT-International board member, shared her harrowing and dangerous route to refuge. She described the hostile working conditions inside the country.

“The Taliban have set up three red lines. Publishing and broadcasting in accordance with Sharia law, observing the national interest, and limitation of women in media. This has caused fear among the media and has opened the way for self-censorship. Thus, many realities will remain hidden and unwritten.” 

Now in exile, she and her colleagues are trying to work again as journalists. But they are out of the country and the situation is dire. 

“The end result is a rising tide of violence and lack of resolution for Afghan society. Condemnation is not enough. Sanction the Taliban. The future of Afghanistan is in the hands of women. We must protect them and the future of Afghanistan.”

Our Nicaraguan chapter has left their country, disbanded and scattered about the globe.

Free Frenchy Mae Cumpio: Sign on to our IAWRT-Philippines campaign

Our members in the Philippines have faced continued pressure from authorities who use “redtagging” or blacklisting tactics to target journalists with false arrests, equipment seizures, and loss of jobs. IAWRT member Frenchy Mae Cumpio, has been imprisoned for more than two years on false charges from aiding terrorism to “fake news.” Our own secretariat and communications officer, Lady Ann Salem, remains on the run, evading authorities by moving to various safe houses. 

The Philippines courts recently acquitted journalists, including IAWRT Philippines members Crimson Labinghisa and Krisma Nina Porquia, who were arrested, jailed and charged when they were covering a protest during the pandemic in May 2020. Using statements of support and other public pressures, the Philippines chapter has been using International Women’s Day and other activities to focus on the unique needs of women and bringing gender equality — with safety — to their communities. 

Our members have faced two very challenging years, led by our outgoing President Violet Gonda, exiled from Zimbabwe for 20 years and now working for Reuters in the UK. Serving for 10 years on IAWRT’s international board, she helped members and chapters navigate Taliban takeovers and political extremists, massive layoffs in the media around the globe, a global health crisis, the precarious financial state of journalists, the migration and brain drain from repressive countries and an internet weaponized to sow mis/disinformation, Violet and our outgoing board members have navigated these perilous times with care and grace. Key to our survival has been our collective might as a distributed, diverse professional network. Our members have provided training in digital and physical safety, self care, legal aid and coaching, and professional development. The power and resilience of this global network allows us to be responsive in crisis, to share resources, share skills and even share our homes. Our primary mission as an international organization is to support our members to keep telling the stories of their communities during these multiple threats to press freedom, individual freedom of expression and continued violations of human rights.

Unity is our superpower.

I am Dr. Michelle Ferrier, your new president. I humbly accepted this role to serve IAWRT members and chapters in building a more inclusive, diverse and resilient network that helps build a vibrant, independent media sector across the globe, with care to our individual members who must live and do their work in difficult conditions.

Over the past 10 years, my work has been at the highest of global forums, advocating for the safety of women journalists by bringing media and technological research, awareness and actions to our world leaders. As founder of TrollBusters, we have been educating journalists on digital security, online threats, and strategies in workflow and personal protections. Our website, at, is a rich resource of data and knowledge about global conditions on press freedoms, providing a dynamic view of an ever-changing global “triple pandemic” of COVID, climate change and conflict. And as an educator, I have been training emerging journalists all over the world in new ways of doing our work, creating new curricula and research and advocating for journalists’ safety. The award-winning Toxic Avenger magazine, produced by TrollBusters, publishes at the intersection of digital harms and the lives and work of journalists. Our regional analysis of press freedoms and amplification of specific cases, tactics and support helps amplify already existing projects and strategies that can be replicated elsewhere. I’ve been working directly with journalists, both men and women, to help secure their data, stories and their lives in geographies across the Earth, advocating for better education and training on the hostile digital and physical environments in which we now find ourselves doing this work.

In my research, monitoring and service work, I’ve seen unprecedented attacks on journalists by state-sponsored, state-aligned actors, online coordinated social campaigns to discredit journalists and destroy the credibility of journalistic work. I’ve seen social spaces weaponized to shame, name and harass journalists and women, sometimes to deadly effect. Our Iraq chapter shared a sobering report of “honor killings” where private information and culturally provocative images are weaponized, resulting in family killing family, fathers killing daughters, brothers killing sisters who they assumed brought shame to their families. This is a strategy, especially targeting women journalists, to break networks down to the family core – to sow confusion, fear, and doubt. 

And sometimes — as with our sisters in Iraq — with deadly consequences.

The effects of these actions ripple across our global network. And they threaten the resilience and growth of our network, which is our greatest strength. These times call for collective action of passionate voices. As journalists, we must continue to speak to these atrocities on human rights and press freedoms and create spaces within our communities and countries for dialogue — and healing — on the most pressing issues of our times.

I am honored and humbled to work over the next two years with our newly elected board, many of them returning to the board from prior positions within the international board: 

  • Vice President, Jola Diones-Mamagun.
  • Secretary, Mandira Raut.
  • Treasurer, Josephine Karani.
  • And our board members: Kreshma Fakhri, Anjali Monteiro, and Razia Quallatein Mwawanga.

Together — with intention and urgency — we will help weave together a powerful network of members and chapter leadership leading the charge on assessing their local conditions and collaborating to develop strategies to support and mentor each other. Through our rich, diverse, network of sisters and allies in journalism, we can continue to create journalism that matters that sustains us and our communities.

Prior to our biennial, I was in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia with Sheila Dallas-Katzman, president of IAWRT-USA, to inaugurate a training program in media innovation and entrepreneurship. We met with local leaders in state-operated media and independent journalists, media workers and others to reimagine a more equitable, inclusive news and information ecosystem across Ethiopia. The six-month accelerator program is designed to introduce new communication enterprises to reach underserved and underrepresented audiences. Led by our own member, Rebecca Tadesse Hunde of Addis Ababa, we are strengthening the IAWRT network and building a new local chapter. We were introduced to independent media producers, our partners at Amhara Media Corporation, and powerful women and men who are passionate about building an independent and resilient media community. Several followed our conference proceedings on our Facebook live, streaming links and I have acquired quite a following of Ethiopian sisters — and brothers and allies— interested in media change. More than 20-plus journalists, bloggers and broadcasters have reached out since then, eager to join a community of like-minded professionals.

One sister emailed me her thoughts during the three-day event.

“Hello Michelle, 

The conference was important, especially when it comes to the trials of female journalists, which teaches a lot about the experiences of the rest of the countries.” 

What these journalists crave is connection, to not stay isolated in fear of one another, but to join together in building a mutual aid network in Ethiopia. I am pleased that one woman journalist has opened her home to her colleagues for a traditional coffee, starting the process of connecting on a personal level and rebuilding trust.

Headed by Sheila Dallas-Katzman a former United Nations communications officer, the USA chapter holds a consultative status with the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. The 2023 priority theme, “Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls” dovetails with the work we will be doing in Ethiopia on media innovation and entrepreneurship and provides strategic direction to our work moving forward. During international forums from the UN to UNESCO and beyond, IAWRT members have represented the organization on a global stage, most recently during our own biennial. Pamela Morgan of the USA chapter represented us before the UN Climate Change Conference with an introduction to IAWRT-USA’s My Climate Change Story cellphone cinema project, sharing the power of visual personal narratives to effect global change. The India chapter also tackled the issue of climate change in mentoring and long documentary productions. Reena Mohan and the chapter produced the 18th year of the Asia Women’s Film Festival, utilizing the theme “I’m Living It” to share personal stories of climate change impacts.

We welcomed the formation of a new chapter in Sierra Leone on 19 October 2022, headed by Cynthia Anthony, a journalist and gardener, who gave away excess produce from her farm to feed her community during the pandemic. Other journalists and community members in Sierra Leone — leaders, farmers, and women advocates along with Anthony— had participated in the My Climate Change workshop to train the trainers and community members to create and share stories of local conditions and share strategies for resilience. Powerful, direct interventions like the My Climate Change Story not only enrich local policy, but help strengthen the resilience of the whole community. And it is through these enrichment activities that bring value to local residents that we strengthen the whole IAWRT network by creating new chapters and partnerships with local civil society and other community stakeholders.

Our Cameroon chapter, headed by Becky Bissong, developed an online campaign during the 16 Days of Action on Gender-Based Violence, using WhatsApp, email and targeted seminars to strengthen their local network. Our Cameroon members describe the perilous lives of Cameroon journalists in this way:

“If you’re a journalist in Cameroon, you’re caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.” 

Recognizing the isolation and silencing that comes from sustained online and offline violence and harassment, Cameroon seeks to elevate these stories to make the world take notice.

In the Philippines, headed by Lynda Catinging-Garcia, the IAWRT chapter initiated a digital safe house — a repository of country and context-rich supports to help women journalists navigate perilous times, build their skills and resilience. This localized model is being replicated in Moldova, as our chapter and journalists struggle to manage the ripple effects of the conflict in neighboring Ukraine. The project provides direct support at the local level by bringing local expertise, context and safety in both digital and physical spaces. 

During the past two years, many chapters focused their work around the themes of self-care: mental health and wellbeing, stress management and tactics to deal with online harassment or harassment in the workplace. Building on these local initiatives, our goal as the international board is to nurture these efforts across the globe, learning and sharing our strategies. That is our charge from you, the members, to help you develop the strength to grow.

Our work ahead does not come without its challenges. Managing a distributed network of committed journalists requires that we support the individual members as we nurture the whole. In the strategic plan developed by the outgoing board in partnership with working groups, the 2020-2024 document outlines the key areas of our interventions:

  • Advocacy for women’s rights
  • Women journalist empowerment and the development of gender parity in the media
  • Deepening professional skills in documentary and film production
  • Expanding our global reach
  • Developing strategic and fiscal strategies to sustain our organization

To effect change in these spaces, IAWRT International must deepen our understanding of local context. We exist to facilitate and amplify the excellent work of our media colleagues around the globe. Our challenges lie in strengthening our network, building in multicultural contexts to our work, rebuilding communication channels to ensure all of our chapters and members are heard and seen and the work amplified. IAWRT’s capacity to mobilize this rich network, especially in times of crisis, has been shown to be our greatest strength. 

Global solidarity is our superpower.

Chapters are collaborating with each other on programs and professional development. Members help members to navigate hostile work and living environments through financial, psychosocial and professional development. Even, sometimes, sharing the clothes off our backs or a safe bed in which to rest and recover. 

A powerful example of the impact of IAWRT members: Newly elected board member Raziah Quallatein Mwawanga, a veteran broadcaster and media consultant, was a pioneer of the Tanzania media stakeholders Coalition of the Right to Information which successfully advocated for the enactment of the Media Services Act and the Access to Information Act of 2016. At our biennial, Minister of Information and Communication Technology the Honorable Nape Nnauye welcomed IAWRT delegates at the opening, sharing welcome news that a review of the 2016 Media Services Act is underway. Under the first-ever woman president in the history of Tanzania, Her Excellency Samia Suluhu Hassan, The President of the United Republic of Tanzania, the country has set an ambitious agenda to bring gender equality to the country.

the review is designed to encode gender parity into the law with a goal of 50/50. Zanzibar’s Minister of Information Tabia Maulid Mwita shared that Zanzibar is currently reviewing its information policy to accommodate more liberal media reforms. What a powerful example of the diligent work of committed people to effect systems change! And a strategy that we, in our unique position, can replicate across the globe. 

The Minister of Information of Tanzania explained the new changes under Her Excellency’s leadership:

“You’ve seen the initiatives to promote women in leadership including women journalists in different positions, from ministers, prominent secretaries, regional commissioners, district commissioners and directors. It is my hope that his noble initiative of ensuring gender equality, penetrates in your media houses and encourages women around the world to fully participate in this noble profession which is among the most important pillars of good governance.”




This is what it means to be of support to one another. This is what it takes to build a community of committed leaders. We ARE the community weavers, helping to bring the richness of our own communities, together with our skills, to heal and grow the world.

American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead is quoted as saying:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

I wholeheartedly agree. We must grow local women media leaders, owners, innovators and connectors, because it is through our listening, collaborating, creating and growing with, by, and for our communities that we can effect real healing and change in our world.

Yours in service,

Dr. Michelle Ferrier


  • Your Excellency, President of the Republic of Tanzania – Honorable Samia Hassan Suluhu,
  • Minister of Information, Communication and Information Technology, Tanzania – Honorable Nape Moses Nnauye, 
  • Minister of Information, Youth, Culture and Sports, Zanzibar – HonorableTabia Maulid Mwita, 
  • Chapter Head of IAWRT Tanzania – Fatuma Matulanga
  • Incoming IAWRT President Dr. Michelle Ferrier
  • Representatives of International Bodies, 
  • Members of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) here in Tanzania and watching virtually from all over the world, a pleasant morning!

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to the opening of IAWRT’s 39th Biennial Conference in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Indeed, a beautiful country.

It is my honour to be here on behalf of IAWRT, together with reputable champions of gender equality and social justice and our partners from the Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA).

IAWRT dates back to 1951 and is the oldest global organization for women in media. We are a non-government organization in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council or ECOSOC. I am glad to report that we have more than 400 members in 55 countries across the globe.

Over the years, IAWRT has been responsible for commissioning ground-breaking documentaries; organizing safety training for women journalists; hosting film festivals and setting up and supporting community radio stations.

Our Biennial has always been an occasion to meet, greet, strategise  and strengthen this amazing network of women who believe in the power and potential of IAWRT to be a catalyst of change. A venue where the aspirations of women in media can be realized.

The conference this year focuses on how the interlinked global crises of COVID-19, Conflict and Climate Change are impacting women. Building a body of action-oriented knowledge around these urgent areas will be at the core of this event where senior women journalists, researchers, activists and filmmakers from all continents will share experiences and chart the way forward.

Gender inequality, coupled with the climate crisis, is regarded as one of the greatest challenges of our time. Climate change drives migration and conflict across the world, making women vulnerable to all forms of gender-based violence – child marriage, human trafficking, and sexual violence.

We hope to capacitate and enrich women journalists to be able to perform the critical function of providing more environmental coverage so that governments, civil society, and corporations assume responsibility and take action.

As truth-seekers, journalists are particularly vulnerable in conflicts – and women journalists even more so. Last year, IAWRT took a gargantuan step by creating a Digital Safe House (DSH) for women journalists in the Philippines, a program that is to be expanded to other countries, including Afghanistan and the Eastern European Partnership. 

While the COVID-19 pandemic itself has hit women disproportionately hard, in many countries the pandemic has also been used as a tool to target and impede women journalists.

In this scenario, IAWRT is proud to be championing a series of innovative programs. To name a few:  

  1. My Climate Change Story project – which offers training for journalists and rural women in using cell phones to produce climate change stories that push for change
  2. Continuous monitoring of progress towards gender equality and social justice in and through media by means of research and training projects.
  3. Media Monitoring Project, which involved IAWRT members in the evaluation of public radio and public television programming (560 hours of broadcasting) by 8 chapters (South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Cambodia, India, Moldova, Poland, and USA).
  4. Capacity-building training conducted in 8 countries on 4 continents to assess media programming and to collect, analyze, and interpret evidence about women’s participation and portrayal in the media; a practical, hands-on training project was likewise implemented. 
  5. The Safety Handbook for Women Journalists, which was supported by UNESCO, and has now been translated into several languages. It fulfills a dire need for advice and recommendations on security and safety, especially for women journalists working in war and conflict zones. 

Indeed IAWRT has done a lot to reinforce the participation of women in the media and we commend all of you for being part of this network or for supporting us!

I take this opportunity to thank our Biennial Committee – Bibiana Piene, Archana Kapoor, Sarah Nakibuuka who have worked tirelessly and burnt the midnight oil to make this a memorable event. I would like to thank our host Chapter, IAWRT Tanzania, led by Fatuma Matulanga, Razia Mwawanga, Mama Rose Haji Mwalimu without whose efforts we would not be here. I would especially like to thank the production crew, led by technical director Jola Diones-Mamangun, who have connected us with our members and supporters across the globe and are giving this conference visibility beyond borders.

Without our supporters and funders, the people who believe in us and endorse the values we stand for, we would certainly not have been here. I take this opportunity to thank 

  • The Oslo Metropolitan University’s Journalism and Media International Centre (JMIC),
  • The International Media Support (IMS), 
  • The Institute of Commonwealth Studies’s School of Advanced Study University of London,
  • The Norwegian Union Journalist (NUJ), 
  • The UN Women, and 
  • SMART – Seeking Modern Applications for Real Transform – SMART 

and all the local supporters of this event like:

  • the Zanzibar Broadcasting Corporation

On behalf of the 2020-2022 IAWRT Board, KARIBU – welcome everyone to the 39thIAWRT Biennial Conference! We look forward to listening to and learning from each other over the coming days!

I would now like to welcome our first speaker Minister of Information, Youth, Culture and Sports, Zanzibar – HonorableTabia Maulid Mwita. We appreciate the strong support and representation from the Tanzanian government. We see this as an endorsement of all that IAWRT Stands for – press freedom and fair and equal space for women in media.

Violet Gonda


UNESCO with IAWRT, OnlyOneEarth.Science, Smart Campus Cloud Network, Citizens’ Platform on Climate Change and A Sustainable World, Texas Geosciences and The Small Earth Nepal offer this side event to COP27.

The session will discuss the importance of climate change data and explore how open data models can counter disinformation. The aim is to create a global narrative on the importance of open data for climate change. Open data serves as one of the most important solutions to make the climate change processes more transparent, inclusive, and democratic. 

The session will discuss responses for the following questions:

  • What is the state of climate change and natural resource consumption data in communication processes?
  • What can stakeholders do to enhance citizens’ access to and understanding of big picture for existential climate-consumption data?
  • What can be done to institutionalize good practices and processes for climate-consumption disinformation and enhance citizens’ access to information?

IAWRT will be represented by Pamela Morgan of IAWRT USA Chapter.

Pamela Morgan is the Executive Director of Woman In Media – Newark, a not-for-profit organization which she founded that advocates for and educates the community about issues affecting women globally using film, video and new media as its platform. As a global advocate, her work centers on the implementation of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals focused on women and migration.