What if? Safety Handbook for Women Journalists” Turkish edition was launched on April 21, 2022 at 19:00 pm Istanbul time at the Turkish Journalists Union (TGS) with the presence of many Turkish journalists.

Abeer Saady, author of the handbook and former IAWRT Vice Chairperson, was not able to join the event in person as she was in Pakistan training journalists and media students, but was able to contribute online.

“Special thanks [go] to IAWRT, JMIC, TGS, and to the great media professors Bora Ataman and Barış Çoban who made that possible. I wish I was there in person with the editor of the book Nonee Walsh and editor of the Arabic version عماد ناصف Emad Nasif,” said Saady in her post on the launch.

AJR Safety

The Journalism and Media International Center (JMIC) in Norway, is funding an Arabic Translation on IAWRT’s safety handbook for women.

JMIC is a part of the Department of Journalism studies at the Oslo Metropolitan University (OsloMet) in Norway, and the translation is part of a pilot project to include IAWRT in some JMIC activities. 

This official Arabic translation is due to be published by the end of 2019. This program is financed by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign affairs and restricted to partner countries in the global south.


As part of this programme JMIC has invited IAWRT representatives to join a October 2019 conference along with Universitas Indonesia academics to examine gender in teaching journalism and media studies 

The safety handbook has also been presented to the Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia (JERRA) annual conference and a commentary about its production was featured in JERAA’s flagship publication, Australian Journalism Review, in an edition focusing on safety.

JERRA and the publisher, Intellect Books, have given permission to reproduce the article Why do we have to search for a line here and there on safety for women journalists? by Nonee Walsh, Abeer Saady (IAWRT) & Fiona Martin (Department of Media & Communications, University of Sydney)

The safety edition of the Australian Journalism Review (December 2018) is available to purchase here  on Intellect Books website, and is in many university libraries.


Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia (JERAA) 2018 conference, Hobart, December 3-5.

IAWRT’s Safety handbook will launched during a panel session From self-protection to advocacy & action: advancing the safety of women journalists.

Panelists are Dr Fiona Martin, Sydney University on digital safety strategies for women journalists, Dr Andrea Baler from Monsah University on #Metoo in music industry media, Dr Cait McMahon, DART Centre for for journalism and trauma, Asia Pacific on responses to violence and IAWRT webjournalist Nonee Walsh and Abeer Saady by Skype. 

The handbook will also be later presented in the academic journal, Australian Journalism Review, which is producing Safety of Journalists issue.

.Violet Gonda   President IAWRT,  Abeer Saady Vice President IAWRT

This web page is a continuation of IAWRT’s work to give women media workers concrete and practical resources to keep them safe.

We began with safety training workshops and in 2017, IAWRT produced the first edition of our safety handbook of advice and recommendations, This safety section is the next step.

As the targeting of journalists and free media continues to rise across the world, particularly in the online environment and local or regional media, attacks specifically directed at women journalists keep increasing. IAWRT wants to continue to share strategies and provide useful information which can bolster safety.

“We are proud that IAWRT is among a number of organisations prioritising the critical issue of safety for women journalists” says IAWRT President, Violet Gonda. “We hope our new online safety section will provides further insights into coping with danger, focusing on critical skills, including risk assessments, handling gender-based violence and dealing with trauma, among other safety related issues.”

The author of the handbook, Abeer Saady, is pleased at the interest the handbook has generated, “I look forward to our website offering translations into other languages; several are being planned by IAWRT chapters” she says.

In this page we will post relevant news and links to other resources, but more importantly, provide a forum for sharing personal experiences or advice which comes from your experience as women journalists in a range of situations and countries.

As Abeer said in the introduction to the safety handbook, “we cannot undo our lives, but can ensure others don’t repeat our bad practices or choices”.

Please feel free to contact [email protected] or [email protected] to make a suggestion.


Security and safety for journalists (especially for women journalists) is something that’s not taught in schools and rarely discussed in newsrooms. We learned the principles of journalism, the basics of newsgathering and other reporting skills and the tools for critical thinking and analysis but never how to prepare ourselves for threats and challenges we might encounter as women journalists.

 The IAWRT Safety Handbook for Women Journalists, was launched in November 2017. Ronalyn V. Olea takes a look at what the handbook can do for female media workers. more here


The IAWRT Safety Handbook for Women Journalists, launched in November 2017.

Ronalyn V. Olea takes a look at what the handbook can do for female media workers.

Security and safety for journalists (especially for women journalists) is something that’s not taught in schools and rarely discussed in newsrooms. We learned the principles of journalism, the basics of newsgathering and other reporting skills and the tools for critical thinking and analysis but never how to prepare ourselves for threats and challenges we might encounter as women journalists.

Abeer Saady’s book, What if…? Safety Handbook for Women Journalists, provides practical tips for women journalists on how to minimize risks when covering sensitive and dangerous assignments.

The handbook’s main strength is its compilation of experiences, not only those of Saady as a journalist for 27 years, but also those of other women journalists who faced difficult situations.

Saady underscores the importance of physical, psychosocial and digital safety and security.

Looking back at my own experiences and those of colleagues in the alternative media, I realized most of us tend to overlook our own safety and security when in the field.

How to protect and minimize harm to our physical safety is something we learned from experience. We only bought a helmet after our colleague covered a violent demolition in San Roque a few years back. She was crying while tear gas canisters and stones were thrown from all directions. Unlike colleagues from the wire agencies, our reporter did not have a bulletproof vest and other protective gear. After that, we decided we need that type of gear but due to limited resources, we could not purchase even just one set.

But yes, as Saady points out in the handbook, risk assessment, profile management, situational and digital awareness and a safety plan are also crucial.

Many of the tips shared in the handbook are practical enough for any journalist or newsroom to do. Going back to the incident I mentioned earlier, the newsroom knew that the demolition of shanties could turn violent but we did not have a safety plan. Our reporter went there without a grab bag (which should contain water, snacks, and a first-aid kit, amongst other things). After the chaos, she called up two of our colleagues to ask for help. We did not have any communication plan either. She was fetched by our Editor in Chief, from the site.

We usually do one-woman coverage, even for out-of-town assignments, due to limitation in resources. Looking back, I managed to survive with the help of people’s organizations. Almost always, they assigned somebody to assist me as I do my job. This proved helpful when I went to cover a fact-finding mission in Hinoba-an, Negros Occidental about the impacts of mining on local communities. My buddy served as my interpreter during interviews, and he never left me when security guards of a private mining company intimidated the group.

The handbook provides tips on what to do when stopped at checkpoints, arrested during coverage, when kidnapped or held hostage, and when caught in crossfire.

Psychosocial security is something that’s not always being attended to. A colleague working for a community radio could not sleep for three months after covering a violent dispersal of farmers in North Cotabato and to this day, she feels the trauma of witnessing a farmer die beside her. The handbook suggests ways of dealing with survivors of such trauma.

The handbook suggests the following ‘how to’ for colleagues who have experienced trauma: (Its useful pronciples can also apply to reporting on survivors of trauma)

  • Take time to let someone who’s been through a bad time tell their story.
  • Ask them open-ended questions. Listen to what they want to say. Don’t interrupt or come back with your own experiences.
  • Don’t tell them you know how they feel. You can’t.
  • Don’t put down their experience or imply they only need to pull themselves together.
  • Never be judgmental.

What if…” also provides tips in dealing with online harassment. Some of our female colleagues in the dominant (or manistream)  media were threatened with sexual assault on social media by those alleged to be Presidental supporters. For such cases, the handbook suggests naming and shaming the online harasser, and moderating the comments section and preventing people from being anonymous, amongst others.

A Norwegian journalist who became a victim of online harassment believes that a better solution would be to develop what she calls harassment competence, such as learning how to distinguish between various forms of bullying, as her interviewees did. She suggests distinguishing between ‘the angry’, ‘the crazy’, and ‘the dangerous’ bullies. “The ‘angry’ are people you can respond to, and perhaps even make them understand that you’re a person who might get hurt by their utterances. Harassment coming from ‘the crazy’ and ‘the dangerous’ had better be ignored…since a reply often makes the bullying even worse,” she shared.

In this time of social media, women journalists should take precautions in protecting their digital safety and security. Some of our colleagues in the dominant media reported that their social media accounts were hacked. Logging in by default (remembered passwords) to one’s emails or social media accounts through applications on mobile might be easy but compromises one’s safety and contacts. The handbook lists tips on how to do a digital cleanup.

The handbook has a separate section on ethical safety decisions. The point is to ‘do no harm’.

Another section is devoted to legal safety. Knowing one’s rights as a journalist and the libel and other media laws in one’s country, or one being visited, is helpful.

The handbook, which can be downloaded from the IAWRT’s website, should be read by every woman journalist.

Creating an environment where women journalists can perform their job without fear or danger is something that we must continue to struggle for. Yet a  2013 global survey of security risks for women journalists revealed that a majority preferred not to report gender-based violence for fear of losing their job or of being stigmatized.

Twelve women Filipino journalists have been killed in the line of duty since the restoration of democratic institutions in 1986; four of whom died during the Ampatuan massacre on Nov. 23, 2009. Not one of the perpetrators of these murders has been brought to justice.

Every journalist must fight impunity, which engenders gender-based violence and media murders. 

Ronalyn (pictured) is a non-mainstream media practitioner in the Philippines and member of the IAWRT,  This article is adapted from original publication in (http://bulatlat.com)Posted with permission.


Women Journalist’s collective experience 

What If? … you are targeted by security forces, shot at, kidnapped, or have to continue live reporting while a person is killed right beside you? It is a possibility for any woman journalist who reports in conflict zones, whether it is an official war or an internal conflict which is not recognised as a war. The IAWRT has now launched a new handbook which helps female reporters plan to avoid such eventualities.

It was launched at the 37th IAWRT Biennial conference held in Quezon City, metro Manila in the Philippines, by the IAWRT President Gunilla Ivarsson Ramon Tuazon from UNESCO Philippines and the author, Abeer Saady, (pictured with the book editor, Nonee Walsh). The Norwegian Journalists Union – Norsk Journalistlag and UNESCO supported the production of this book, which is available for download from the publications section of this website.

Abeer Saady quoted from the book to explain its purpose.  “If you have your grab bag of preparation techniques – risk assessment, profile management, situational and digital awareness and a safety plan along with your physical grab bag – your ability to survive dangerous situations is enhanced.”

“However, the range of situations faced by women journalists around the globe is vast. As well as those whose careers do not survive gender based office harassment, I have met citizen journalists who evaded militias in a war torn country in order to get training to pass on to colleagues, top flight well known international journalists who died in situations which they thought they could manage, survivors of kidnap and imprisonment, women who reported on major disasters without knowing if their own families had survived, under-resourced community radio reporters who put themselves at risk by exposing military atrocities or corruption by giving a voice to the people who are threatened, and female journalists who continue work after surviving rapes, miscarriages and the trauma of witnessing deaths.

I have been very impressed and humbled by every one of these professional women from so many countries, who do a job that matters. The IAWRT is proud to be able to put their collective experiences together in this handbook designed to improve the safety of women who continue to cover important stories.

Often the reality in our business is that it is fast work at short notice, so we hope this fills a gap with a quick and easy read on the way to your next assignment.

(Picture Gunilla Ivarsson, Abeer Saady, Ramon Tuazon & Jola Diones Mamangun head, IAWRT Philippines Chapter) photo by Iphegenie Marcoux-Fortier.

What if … Safety Handbook for  Women Journalists is available for download.

Links to media coverage

A must-read for women journalists