The recent arrests of journalists in Afghanistan have caused concern in the Afghan journalism community inside and outside the country. In the past week, five journalists have been arrested and imprisoned by the Taliban.

1- Faqir Ahamad Faqirzai of Killid Radio Nengarhar, arrested on August 10 

2- Jan Agha Saleh of Killid Radio Nengarhar, arrested on August 10 

3- Habib Sarab of Ariana TV Negarhar, arrested on August 10 

4- Wahdatullah Abdali, local reporter of Bakhtar News Agency from Ghazni, arrested on August 6

5- Hasib Hasass Salam, correspondent of Wayandar Kunduz, arrested on August 10 

IAWRT Afghanistan condemns these arrests and asks for the immediate release of these journalists. We believe that such actions lead to a closed space for information in the country, becoming more closed and journalists and media cannot fulfill their duties as they should. We ask international organizations to stand with Afghan journalists in more coherent cooperation.

From Dr. Michelle Ferrier, President, International Association of Women in Radio and Television

Najiba Ayubi had been a journalist in Afghanistan for more than 20 years. During this time, armed men showed up at her home multiple times, but she continued to work despite the threats. She was managing director of Killid Group, a non-profit media network that includes two of the country’s most popular magazines and eight radio stations. She won the 2013 Courage in Journalism Award by the International Women’s Media Foundation for her work. But when the Taliban came to her door in 2021, she decided to get her whole family to safety, an ordeal that took them from Afghanistan to Germany and then to the United States.

Najiba and her family now reside in California, waiting for the asylum process to move on her case and those of hundreds of other media workers that have fled from Afghanistan since August 2021. The months since the takeover and installation of the de facto regime has seen a continued decline in human rights for women and in particular, women media workers, journalists, broadcasters and others. Journalists, human rights activists, civil society members, minority groups, and women and girls have been marginalized from public life under the Taliban-run administration. Women and girls are prohibited from employment, moving about freely and other actions of free citizens. Recent actions by the Taliban on December 25, 2022 have effectively banned women in Afghanistan from the public sphere — and terminating female education and work rights across the country. Women held parliamentary seats, ministerial and diplomatic posts and senior offices, including as judges and chairs of independent commissions before the Taliban takeover. None remain in these positions today, according to a United Nations Special Rapporteur report on Afghanistan, released yesterday.

As women disappear from the public sphere, Afghan women journalists are vanishing at a rapid pace. Of the total number of women journalists in 2020, only 5% live and work in Kabul since the de facto authorities took back political power, according to our report by the Association of Women in Radio and Television-Kabul (released in October 2022 with support from Internews). The report documents displaced journalists who are in hiding or have fled to Pakistan and other countries, where their safety is still fragile and their livelihoods have been lost.

  • 67.86% of the respondents have lost their jobs since the Taliban takeover in August 2021.
  • 80.52% of the respondents said that Afghan media today is ‘very restricted.’
  • 46.75% respondents said that spokespersons of the authorities do not respond to female journalists.

The Afghanistan press sector has been decimated. Strict restrictions had been imposed on women’s lives and on what the media can cover. Reporting under these conditions has not been easy, but journalists have continued to criticize abuse of power and injustice. Women journalists are hiding in their homes, forbidden to work. Those who manage to escape to neighboring countries find themselves in limbo, unable to work and still under threat from the Taliban. Our members and their families continue to be pursued across borders.

The International Association of Women in Radio and Television is concerned about the arrests and the situation of Afghan journalists in Pakistan, Turkey and in other geographies. Our members are women media workers and journalists, who are uniquely positioned to know and report continued human rights violations. As an international organization, we work across cultures and geographies to support women journalists in telling stories with a gender-focused lens and an intersectional view.

We have received reliable information about the arrest of Afghan journalists by the Pakistani police in Islamabad. This arbitrary detention of journalists and media workers who reside in a country with visas and legal documents is against all international norms and is a violation of international agreements on human rights, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

The International Association of Women in Radio and Television asks governments across the globe, international organizations and civil society to provide resources to combat the deterioration of free speech, and to strengthen initiatives for a free press and freedom of expression for women journalists, in Afghanistan and elsewhere. On June 20, World Refugee Day, IAWRT would like to draw attention to the difficult and tenuous situation of Afghan refugees, especially women media workers, and to urge governments to provide a safe living environment for all immigrants, especially journalists, in accordance with international norms.

Dr. Michelle Ferrier is the president of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television and the executive director of the Media Innovation Collaboratory, USA.

*  *  *

The International Association for Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) is a global organization formed by professional women working in electronic and allied media with a mission to strengthen initiatives towards ensuring that women’s views and values are an integral part of programming and to advance the impact of women in the media. IAWRT is a non-government organization in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). IAWRT has more than 400 members in 55 countries and 14 country chapters across the globe.

Contact: [email protected]


IAWRT statement on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day 2023

3 MAY 2023

Women in the media continue to face concerted and ongoing attacks against professionals, such as trolling, extra-legal threats, legal harassment, imprisonment, and killings, among others, designed to silence the messenger. Our work is made more difficult today with heightened gendered online harassment, oppressive regimes, war, and climate change, as we continue to strive for gender equality in the media and the world. 

WHEREAS, the International Association of Women in Radio & Television (IAWRT), founded in 1951, has grown a global network of media leaders in digital, broadcast, film and radio, representing more than 400 members in 55 countries and 16 chapters;

WHEREAS, IAWRT members are professional communicators or researchers in media and communications, who amplify the urgent global challenges faced by women in and around the media;

WHEREAS, IAWRT is committed to the enhancement of women’s role and participation in media, as gender equality cannot be achieved without gender parity in media and communication;

WHEREAS, IAWRT believes in using the power of the media to shape public perception and challenge gender stereotypes;

WHEREAS, IAWRT members lead at all levels of media within their countries and around the globe, influencing and directing international policy on media representations, gender parity and a vibrant, free press;

On this 3rd day of May in the year 2023, which is World Press Freedom Day, we at the International Association of Women in Radio and Television do hereby acknowledge the unique and intersectional challenges of women journalists and media workers around the globe:

  • Our Afghanistan chapter members are in exile and in limbo, professionally sidelined from doing their work. Women in general across Afghanistan and in the media, in particular,  experience vanishing roles and threats to safety and survival across the country. 
  • Our Philippines chapter continues to battle legal attacks and imprisonment of members on trumped-up charges, such as the three-year detention of Frenchie Mae Cumpio in Tacloban.
  • Our members in conflict zones battle attacks in real life and online, risking all to share stories of human rights abuses. Conflict between neighboring countries and civil strife have put journalists in danger as they do their work.

We affirm and acknowledge our professional rights and responsibilities: 

  • To foster an inclusive, diverse news and information ecosystem; 
  • To provide  platforms and  pathways for women’s stories and rights to be shared;
  • To create avenues for women to be informed and engaged regarding women’s full and equal participation in our media houses and throughout journalism processes; and
  • To encourage gender-affirming initiatives underway around the globe that have elevated women and women journalists to powerful roles in shaping public discourse, amplifying women’s voices – and change. 
  • To provide support to women journalists and media workers across the world facing threats to their work and safety.

On this World Press Freedom Day, we honor the sacrifices of all of our members and the work of our colleagues and sisters in creating a more just, and informed citizenry and in fostering global networks of women media professionals committed to gender parity and human rights. 

Dr. Michelle Ferrier

President, International Association of Women in Radio and Television-International

Jola Diones-Mamangun

Vice President

Josephine Karani


Mandira Raut


Raziah Mwawanga

Board Member

Dr. Anjali Monteiro

Board Member

Kreshma Fakhri

Board Member

Honoring brave women journalists on International Women’s Day

Today, as we commemorate the International Women’s Day, the International Association of Women in Radio and Television – Philippines honors brave women truthtellers in the country and around the world in the face of continuing and intensifying attacks against press freedom.

Detained journalist Frenchie Mae Cumpio, Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, Manila Today editor Lady Ann Salem, veteran journalist Margarita Valle, and community journalist Anne Krueger are just few of the many brave women journalists in the country who have put a spotlight on the sufferings and aspirations of marginalized communities.

Globally, members of IAWRT in over 54 countries, which includes women journalists, communication researchers, filmmakers, among others, are also working with disadvantaged communities and documenting gendered experiences to counter authoritarian regimes that are on the rise.

Such brand of journalism and brave truthtelling do not sit well with the powers-that-be, and for this they are being discredited and attacked both as a journalist and as a woman. But they do not waver and have instead pushed back against misogyny and  human rights violations.

In the country, IAWRT Philippines’ own sister Frenchie Mae continues to languish in jail for more than three years now over trumped up charges.

As the executive director of alternative media outfit Eastern Vista, anchor of a community radio Lingganay han Kamautoran that aired at DYVL Aksyon Radyo, and IAWRT’s community radio Radyo Tacloban, she has reported the continuing plight of Typhoon Haiyan survivors, and the human rights violations in the provinces of Samar and Leyte prior to her arrest.

She was subjected to surveillance and red-tagging, and later arrested in an attempt to silence her. She is currently facing trumped up illegal possession of firearms and explosives charges and a terror financing case before Tacloban and Manila courts, respectively.

In the face of intensifying attacks on our role as truthtellers, IAWRT Philippines urges its fellow women journalists and men allies in the field to stand united in upholding and defending press freedom.




Executive Board, International Association of Women in Radio and Television – Philippines

[email protected]

The International Association of Women in Radio and Television – Philippines expressed concern over the recent decision of a Manila court that denied our colleague and detained community journalist Frenchie Mae Cumpio the right to present evidence and prove the utter falsehoods against her.

This terror financing charge against Cumpio and church worker Mariel Domequil stems from the P557,360 reportedly found in their possession when they were arrested and consequently charged back in 2020.

The Philippine government has since said this is being used to finance the revolutionary movement in the region, based on the supposed account of an eyewitness. Cumpio, for her part, has long said that the cash was intended for her radio program and her current collaborative humanitarian project called, “Stand with Samar.”

According to the decision, copies of court orders seeking Cumpio’s verified opposition to the allegations before her have been served to her through the Clerk of Court and Ex-Officio Sheriff of the regional trial court in Tacloban City. Per the Sheriff’s return dated Jan. 14, 2021, Cumpio and fellow political prisoner Domequil supposedly received copies of the court order.

In a petition filed last month, Cumpio’s lawyer, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, said that it is excusable as the alternative journalist was immediately red-tagged upon her arrest, and had difficulties getting a lawyer. They noted that in 2021, the Philippine police even wrote to the Calbayog City Hall of Justice to get the names of lawyers representing political prisoners, creating what the lawyer’s group described as a chilling effect among their ranks.

It was also difficult to get evidence and prepare for their defense as they were detained and with added restrictions due to the pandemic.

Among the other grounds for allowing Cumpio to present evidence also include the fact that the seized cash was not subject to the search warrants being enforced against them, and that both the Communist Party of the Philippines nor the New People’s Army were neither designated nor proscribed as terrorist organizations at the time of their arrest.

All these, however, were dismissed by the Manila court.

As Cumpio’s lawyers are set to appeal the court decision today, we are urging the court to allow Frenchie Mae to present her evidence. We stand with her that there are meritorious and humanitarian reasons why she was not able to join the proceedings. We call on the Manila court to give Frenchie Mae the due process she rightfully deserves.

Most importantly, we pray and continue to work toward the dismissal of all charges against Frenchie Mae.

Free Frenchie Mae Cumpio.


Executive Board

IAWRT Philippines

The International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) expresses alarm at the Court of Appeal’s decision to uphold the conviction of Nobel Laureate Maria Ressa and former Rappler researcher Rey Santos Jr on trumped-up charges of cyber libel.

Their conviction in 2020 stemmed from a cyber libel case on a Rappler article published on May 29, 2012, almost five months before the cybercrime law was enacted on October 3. The Department of Justice under then-president Rodrigo Duterte, however, ruled that the story had been updated and remained posted as of Feb. 14, 2014, and approved the filing of charges in 2019.

The court also lengthened the jail time to up to six years, eight months and 20 days or an additional eight months in denying Ressa’s appeal.

After the court decision, Ressa and Rappler experienced an “info ops/mob,” as part of the continuing online hate she has received following Rappler’s critical reporting of the former president’s war on drugs and Duterte openly attacking Ressa and Rappler.

The court’s decision comes over a week after the country’s Securities and Exchange Commission issued a revocation order against Rappler, one of the many legal cases and harassment Rappler endured during the term of Duterte. Both disturbing decisions were released between Duterte’s last day in office and the first few days of the new president, son of dictator, and press freedom killer Ferdinand Marcos Jr. The international media watchdog group, Reporters without Borders, has called Duterte a press freedom “predator.”

The recent developments in Ressa and Rappler’s cases add to growing concerns over press freedom in the Philippines.

Marcos Jr.’s win has raised concerns about the future of media in the country, where journalists were barred from interviewing or covering or roughhoused during his campaign sorties. Marcos Jr. refused to join election debates and only allowed interviews from selected media houses to answer selected questions.

Before the term of Duterte’s appointed officials ended with him, the former National Security Adviser ordered the blocking of independent media websites Bulatlat and Pinoy Weekly. (Read related statement from IAWRT Philippines here:

Ressa rightly said that the danger that her and Rappler’s experiences pose if you’re a Filipino is that “this could happen to you, too.” And this could happen anywhere in the world where people keep silent as institutions are being used to silence journalists.

IAWRT will continue to support Maria Ressa, Rappler, journalists, and media outfits that continue to pursue the truth but are persecuted for it.

IAWRT PH Stands with the Independent Media

This is appalling. Yet, if this is meant to send shock waves to the independent media, malign and silence them, goodness, the intent is failing.

National Security Adviser Secretary Hermogenes Esperon Jr. has ordered the immediate blocking of independent media websites such as and on the basis of an opinion that these outfits are terrorist-affiliated or supporting terrorist organizations.

Plain and simple, red-tagging is media repression.

Independent media, also known as alternative media, have always stood their ground and even complement the dominant media in bringing information to the public to make informed decisions. Operating for service and not for profit, they are fearless in raising controversial issues and hold government leaders accountable for their actions.

Hence it is not surprising that they are often at odds with government officials. But the recent blocking is carrying red-tagging to another level of recklessness and irresponsibility that brutally attacks press freedom and the right of the public to know.

As expected, and did not take this sitting down and immediately denounced this act despite threats to their profession and their security, even.

Likewise, this recent attempt at muzzling the independent press, carried out in blitzkrieg fashion, has only resulted in media people holding each other’s back in defense of press freedom and gaining broader support from the public.

In this regard, the Philippine chapter of IAWRT (International Association of Women in Radio and Television) stands solidly behind, and in solidarity, with the independent media. It also calls on Secretary Esperon to rescind his order.#

[Several IAWRT Philippines members work with Bulatlat and Pinoy Weekly.]

The International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) is outraged at the fatal shooting of Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American journalist, who worked for the Al Jazeera network. She was killed in the occupied West Bank during an Israeli army raid in Jenin, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, and despite wearing a jacket clearly identifying her as “Press.” Her producer was also wounded.

Such an act is a violation of the Geneva Conventions, and violates the United Nations Security Council resolution 2222 on the protection of journalists.

We are gratified to learn the United Nations Human Rights Organization is verifying facts on the ground, and we join the chorus of those expressing sorrow and alarm and demand a thorough, independent investigation into these alleged crimes.

1009 nobel prize

Fellow journalists and press freedom and freedom of expression and information take the spotlight at this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.


The International Association of Women in Radio and Television congratulates fellow journalists Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov who jointly won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.


The Nobel committee awarded this prestigious peace prize to journalists from the Philippines and Russia for their ‘efforts to safeguard freedom of expression’. This, the Norwegian Nobel Committee also deems, is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.


“Free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the committee. 


The award is accompanied by a gold medal and 10 million Swedish kronor (US $1.14 million)


The recognition comes at a time when journalists are increasingly at risk the world over, especially female journalists in Afghanistan and many other hot spots. 


Co-founder of Rappler, a digital media company for investigative journalism, Maria Ressa uses freedom of expression to expose growing authoritarianism in the Philippines. 


Dmitry Muratov, on the other hand, is a Russian journalist who founded the Novaya Gazeta, a news agency that is critical in its reporting and has served as its editor-in-chief since 1995.


IAWRT hopes this award becomes an opportunity for fellow press freedom advocates to hold the line and engage governments to protect a free press and to uphold people’s right to know.


IAWRT World Press Freedom Day statement 2021

The International Association of Women in Radio and Television gathered for an online protest on World Press Freedom Day 2021 to respond to so many human rights violations worldwide that put the lives of journalists at risk.

Our network has not been exempted from these violations. Here are some inhumane acts that some of our members have experienced

·       On December 10, 2020, journalist and IAWRT member Malalai Maiwand, and her driver, were killed in Afghanistan.

·       On the same day, Lady Ann Salem, our Communications Officer was arrested on possession of firearms and explosives trumped up charges. After almost three months, she was released after the court dismissed the charges as baseless and inconsistent.

·       Journalist Frenchie Mae Cumpio, IAWRT Philippines member is still in jail since February 7, 2020, arrested in a similar fashion and detained on similar charges as Icy was.

·       Several IAWRT members are working in countries reeling from war or grappling with the pandemic, both conditions have impeded or have been consciously used to restrict their duty of finding out and reporting the truth

With the steep rise in the attacks on journalists and a weakening in regulations protecting freedom of expression, indeed, women journalists and media workers, are in a very difficult situation.

The harassment of journalists not only affects media practitioners but shortchanges citizens who depend on the media to provide a critical service in society – denying people to access to truth which is a very sad reality.

A recent study by UNESCO, on online violence against women journalists, also shows that the majority of women journalists surveyed had experienced online violence relating to their work. Online violence against women journalists is used to silence independent voices, spread disinformation and undercut fact-based journalism.

In addition, more than 1,000 journalists have died due to COVID-19 according to the Press Emblem Campaign in April this year. Many of these deaths came as a result of a lack of protective equipment and unsafe working practices.

We stand with these struggles of journalists especially women journalists who, at the same time, continue to fight for their piece of airtime, for their spot in newsroom leadership and for women’s voices to be heard. We would also like to recognize the work that they have done and been doing as women journalists-truth tellers.

IAWRT joins all journalists and media workers from all over the world, to call for urgent measures to counter continuing threats and crisis worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

We pray for the day when journalists are reporting the news and not making the news, for COVID-safe newsrooms, and general safe environments for media practitioners.