08 Mar 2012 IFEX salutes the professionalism and courage of women journalists
On the night that then-Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak announced his resignation, CBS News correspondent Lara Logan was in Cairo’s Tahrir Square covering the massive celebrations for “60 Minutes”. CBS News reported that Logan had been separated from her crew and security, and “suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault.” She was saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers.
Logan discusses how she moved on from the attacks in the foreword of a new book dedicated to the safety of women journalists, launched by the International News Safety Institute (INSI) on International Women’s Day. It’s just one of the ways IFEX members and partners are paying tribute to women journalists, writers and activists who speak out for their rights in the face of ongoing repression.
No Woman’s Land: On the Frontlines with Female Reporters is a collection of articles written by 40 women from around the world who work in the news media, including the BBC’s Lyse Doucet and Caroline Wyatt, CNN’s Hala Gorani, Fox News’s Jennifer Griffin, Al Jazeera’s Zeina Awad and the former Egyptian state TV anchor Shahira Amin.
The women – photographers, camerawomen, correspondents and reporters – have covered conflict, disasters, corruption and civil unrest and come from more than a dozen countries, including some of the deadliest places to work as a journalist: Mexico, Russia and Somalia.
“The stories tell of the risks and the safety measures these women must take to get the story,” said INSI Deputy Director Hannah Storm, who compiled and edited the book with her colleague Helena Williams. “But above all these are human stories – compelling, heart-rending, inspiring and harrowing – about wives, mothers and daughters who face huge danger to bring us the news.”
No Woman’s Land also features safety advice and guidance for women and men in the news media. Proceeds from the book will go towards INSI safety projects for women journalists around the world.
Human Rights Watch also went the book route. “The Unfinished Revolution” tells the story of the struggle to secure basic rights for women and girls, “including in the Middle East where the hopes raised by the Arab Spring are yet to be fulfilled.” Introduced by Christiane Amanpour, the anthology includes essays by more than 30 writers, activists, policymakers and human rights experts – such as Nobel laureates Shirin Ebadi and Jody Williams – who propose workable solutions to ongoing rights violations.
PEN International is dedicating 2012 International Women’s Day to women writers who have been murdered or disappeared in Mexico, the Western hemisphere’s most dangerous countries to be a writer. Last year, five of the nine Mexican writers killed were women, some of whom were murdered in particularly savage ways.
Take María Elizabeth Macías Castro: Her decapitated body was found on a road near Nuevo Laredo on 24 September 2011, with a note saying she had been killed by a criminal group because she wrote about drug violence on social media websites. Her murder was the first ever documented worldwide by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that was in direct relation to journalism published on social media.
In the Philippines, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) executive director Melinda Quintos de Jesus describes how women journalists made press freedom gains during the martial law period. “[It] helped that most of us did not have to fear… loss of the job. Unlike most male journalists we were not the sole breadwinners in our families… It also helped that the custom and convention had kept us mostly out of the old boy cliques, which could have made it more difficult to break away from the pattern of press control,” she writes. Read more about how women boldly criticised the regime – and got away with it – here.
Original IFEX article published here.