INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2015
15 Journalists, 15 Voices for Girls & Women
Each year, Women Deliver celebrates International Women’s Day by honoring people, organizations and innovations that are delivering for girls and women. This year, we are excited to celebrate 15 journalists from around the world who are advocating for and advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights. Our honorees were selected by an internal review board from a competitive pool of more than 100 journalists who were nominated by dozens of Women Deliver’s partners and supporters.
Starting today, we will open an online voting contest to select the top three journalists from our remarkable list. The three winners will receive scholarships to attend Women Deliver’s 2016 conference, which will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark. Voting will close on March 20, so be sure to vote today for the journalist who inspires you the most today.
FLORENCIA GOLDSMAN, ARGENTINA
Pikara, Pagina 12
Florencia sheds new light on how ordinary, but often overlooked, aspects of everyday life affect girls and women in her community. A self-proclaimed “cyberfeminist,” Florencia is passionate about using digital technology and photography to raise awareness about issues affecting women’s rights across Latin America and the Caribbean, from the rural jungles of Guatemala to the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Her reporting explores how current events and societal problems impact girls’ and women’s health and rights. Some of her most compelling pieces have covered the impact of police corruption on sex trafficking, as well as sexual abuse and exploitation around the World Cup.
In her own words: “Women voices itself are misunderstood or misrepresented in media. There is always a key discussion missing in usual coverage of women´s health and rights issues. Why can´t we talk and debate seriously about that? Why are women’s voices just rarely heard?”
TAREQ SALAHUDDIN, BANGLADESH
The Daily Star
A physician-turned-journalist, Tareq now harnesses the power of media to improve the health and well-being of girls and women in his community. To this day, Tareq is still motivated by the underserved girls and women he treated as a young doctor many years ago. In his position as health editor of The Daily Star – the leading English-language newspaper in Bangladesh – Tareq often covers maternal and reproductive health global policies and programs, such as the Millennium Development Goals and the Global Financing Facility. Additionally, Tareq frequently features youth advocates – many of which are men – who are determined to end child marriage and dowry violence in Bangladesh.
In his own words: “If I could only tell one more story, I would convince policy makers to invest in simple, cost-effective interventions that help save women’s lives, like access to oxytocin to prevent postpartum hemorrhage and death. We need to remind our governments, time and time again, that the health and safety of our women is a top priority.”
COMFORT MUSSA, CAMEROON
Global Press Journal, Radio France International
Comfort uses her voice to make others’ voices even louder. She is a radio host, blogger and multi-award winning journalist with a keen eye for stories that expose social injustice. She hosts a weekly radio broadcast, 100% Jeune Live, where she leads young people in open and vibrant conversations about sexual and reproductive health. As a reporter for the Global Press Journal, Comfort writes about many sensitive topics including the risk of sexual harassment for mentally disabled women in Cameroonand the ripple effect of anti-child labor laws on middle class women. Comfort also foundedSisterSpeak237, a blog where girls and women can openly discuss taboo topics, such as sexual harassment on public transportation.
In her own words: “There is an immense lack of stories about women’s health and rights in Cameroon’s mainstream media. I am inspired to tell these stories because it highlights relevant issues otherwise ignored. I believe that through my reporting, people ask themselves, ‘How can we solve the problems that we are currently sweeping under the rug?’ ”
CHI YVONNE LEINA, CAMEROON
Equinoxe Televsion, World Pulse
Leina breaks the silence around harmful cultural practices and sexual violence. In 2011, Leina uncovered the truth about breast ironing in Cameroon. Her reporting generated local and international attention and helped encourage the Cameroonian government to partner with her Gender Dangercampaign to end the harmful practice. Leina’s award-winning and courageous coverage of women’s health and rights has earned her many titles – humanitarian, leader and activist – and she is now known as one of Cameroon’s leading advocates on violence against women.
In her own words: “More female journalists in leadership and decision-making positions in newsrooms is crucial to ensuring girls’ and women’s health issues are on newspapers’ front pages. The more female news entrepreneurs and editors we have, the more likely women’s issues are to gain their rightful positions in the news.”
STELLA PAUL, INDIA
InterPress Service, Thomson Reuters Foundation, World Pulse
In addition to her reporting, Stella equips women with the tools they need to take action and seek justice. Stella is an award-winning Indian journalist who believes that fair, solution-oriented journalism can lead to social change. Stella often covers women’s rights abuses, such as the temple slave crisis in India, and publishes stories that lead to tangible impact. Stella also goes the extra mile to give back to the communities she covers: after conducting interviews, she often trains girls how to alert authorities about injustices and hold them accountable for enforcing their human rights.
In her own words: “I am a survivor of attempted infanticide. When I was a baby, I got sick and some of my family members decided that I should die because I was not a boy. Decades later, I’m inspired by the courage of my mother –and countless other women – to expose and end gender-based violence and inequality.”
LUCY MARONCHA, KENYA
Freelancer, frequently reports for Key Correspondents
Lucy amplifies survivors’ stories to change the way people think. Lucy has dedicated her career in print media to ending gender-based violence, particularly against women and young people living with HIV/AIDS. As a journalist living with HIV, Lucy draws on her personal experiences to write authentic and compassionate stories that challenge readers’ perceptions of and attitudes toward groups most susceptible to HIV/AIDS, including women, sex workers, drug users and other marginalized populations. Lucy is an original member of the Network of Journalists Living with HIV, and she actively mentors other journalists, encouraging them to use their powerful stories and voices to bring about change in their communities.
In her own words: “In my career as a journalist, I have seen women abused in the most dehumanizing manner. It’s my job to use my platform as a reporter to expose and end gender-based violence and other atrocities facing women.”
MAE AZANGO, LIBERIA
FrontPage Africa, New Narratives
Mae has risked her life to expose injustices facing girls and women. Mae’s passion for reporting on sexual and reproductive health and rights stems from her traumatic experiences as a pregnant teenager during Liberia’s civil war. Mae is best known for going undercover to write a tell-all piece about female genital mutilation (FGM) for FrontPage Africa. She received death threats, and both she and her daughter were forced into hiding for over a month. Her story garnered international attention and encouraged the Liberian government to ban the licensing of Sande schools, where FGM is performed. Mae serves on the board of the Media Women Center for Development and Democracy and was awarded the International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists in 2012.
In her own words: “Speaking the truth about female genital cutting in my country has long been a dangerous thing to do. But I thought it was worth risking my life because cutting has claimed the lives of so many women and girls, some as young as two.”
FARAHNAZ ZAHIDI MOAZZAM, PAKISTAN
Farahnaz confronts and challenges cultural and religious norms that threaten girls’ and women’s health and rights in Pakistan. She is not afraid to draw attention to issues rarely discussed publically in Pakistan: culturally sanctioned female genital mutilation, women suffering from fistula, sexual violence and religious extremism, among others. Through her reporting, Farahnaz raises awareness about girls’ and women’s health and education and pressures local authorities and policymakers to enforce laws that protect women. In fact, she has even helped put some perpetrators of sexual assault behind bars. Farahnaz often features stories about female religious leaders and peace-builders in an effort to engage men, especially clergy, in women’s rights advocacy.
In her own words: “As a story-teller, I know that there is no story in the world where both a male and a female character are not involved. I tilt towards the female side of the story, not just because I am a woman, but because I understand the Pakistani woman’s indigenous sensibilities as I am one. Hence, my stories are not just sob stories. I am a positive person. So my stories are stories of triumphant women.”
RINA JIMENEZ-DAVID, PHILIPPINES
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Rina’s reporting has changed the game for reproductive rights in the Philippines. Since 1989, she has published four columns weekly for the country’s most widely read newspaper – many of which have been dedicated to girls’ and women’s health and rights. Rina is a seasoned journalist who also participates in televised debates and roundtables on maternal and reproductive health issues. Rina’s reporting help maintain momentum around the 14-year long debate of the groundbreaking Philippines’ reproductive health bill, which guarantees universal access to contraception, sexual education and maternal care.
In her own words: “Girls’ and women’s health issues aren’t front-page news because they are considered ‘continuing’ crises rather than alarming developments, such as the threat of Ebola or the MERS-COV virus. My own attitude through the years has evolved from bemoaning the absence of such stories from the front pages to working to find spaces for them in other sections, such as columns like mine.”
MAIMOUNA GUEYE, SENEGAL
Maimouna persuades policymakers to do more – and better – for girls and women. As Editor-in- Chief and coordinator of Le Soleil’s health supplement, Maimouna uses her platform to raise awareness about critical maternal and reproductive health issues. Her work is widely credited with encouraging the Senegalese government to enhance its family planning program. In fact, Ministry of Health officials frequently use the poignant, first-hand testimonies featured in Maimouna’s articles to highlight how policies directly affect women.
In her words: “We need intense advocacy directed toward media owners so they become more sensitive to all issues affecting women. Training journalists to have an interest in women’s issues is another dimension that needs work. If in a newsroom there are no women journalists, who will speak for them?”
ROSE MWALONGO, TANZANIA
Rose’s lifelong dedication to exposing injustices has made her as much an advocate as a writer. For 15 years, Rose has been using her gift for language to expose human rights injustices in Tanzania, particularly threats to maternal and reproductive health and rights, such as FGM and child marriage. As an “activist journalist,” Rose highlights advocates’ efforts to hold the Tanzanian government accountable for enforcing the country’s human rights laws, particularly as they relate to girls and women. In addition to reporting, Rose is an Information Officer for the Legal and Human Rights Centre and a board member for the Community Media Network of Tanzania (COMNETA).
In her own words: “If I could only tell one more story, I would remind everyone that all kings, emperors, presidents, and tycoons emanate from women. They are the mothers of all societies in the world…. The role of women and girls should never be underestimated as their wellbeing means everything to the whole word. Educate a woman and you have done so to the whole society.”
BRIAN MUTEBI, UGANDA
Brian travels to remote and dangerous places to expose major threats to girls’ and women’s health and rights. He amplifies girls’ and women’s voices to bring national attention to female genital mutilation, poor maternal healthcare infrastructure, teenage pregnancy and sexual violence. On International Day of the Girl Child in 2013, Brian published a groundbreaking story about a 13-year old refugee girl who wrote a letter to the UN Secretary-General describing the impact of war on life in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His story uncovered the plight girls and women face in conflict zones and generated unprecedented attention from local policymakers.
In his own words: “I grew up in a community where domestic violence against women was rampant and acceptable. Circumstances forced girls to carry babies instead of books. I believe every girl has dreams and every woman the ability to impact this world tremendously. Using a pen, I take up their case.”
CATHERINE MWESIGWA, UGANDA
Catherine paves the way for women to lead in her newsroom, community and beyond. As New Vision’s Deputy Editor, Catherine is a role model for young female writers who aspire to be leaders in a field traditionally dominated by men. Her coverage pushes the public and policymakers to prioritize girls’ and women’s needs. In fact, Catherine contributed a piece to her media house’s campaign against FGM, which supported community mobilization and sensitization efforts to end the practice and ultimately influenced Ugandan officials to pass a law banning the practice. She also isn’t afraid to rely on her own experiences as a mother to write powerful and persuasive articles that call for greater access to reproductive and maternal health services.
In her own words: “When political leaders and the media make the connection between girls’ and women’s health and welfare to socio-economic development and productivity, children’s education outcomes, and nations’ political stability, women’s health issues will make it to the front pages.”
ALLYN GAESTEL, USA
Allyn immerses herself in communities around the world to bring local women’s voices to a global stage. She is best known for covering many overlooked topics, including Nigeria’s silent abortion crisis and violence against pregnant women in India. She recently reported an award-winning short forThe New York Times, shot by frequent collaborator Allison Shelley, highlighting how menstruating women in Nepal are often forced to sleep outside the home and become vulnerable to sexual assault. Allyn often spends months at a time digging deep into communities around the world so that she can immerse herself in the issues and accurately report on the challenges girls and women face.
In her own words: “Women’s health is often seen as a “soft” topic, but I have found it to be anything but. My reporting on women’s health has offered an important lens for me to explore not just women’s lives but the roots of crises that affect society more broadly.”
JINA MOORE, USA / KENYA
Jina uses innovative digital platforms to bring groundbreaking stories to broad global audiences. Based in Nairobi, Jina is BuzzFeed’s Global Women’s Rights Correspondent, and has reported from more than 20 countries on a wide range of topics – from US funding for Afghan women tosexual trauma treatment for kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls. Last year, Jina traveled to Monrovia, Liberia, to cover the Ebola epidemic and was among the first journalists to expose Ebola’s disproportionate toll on women. Jina also draws attention to activism that advances girls’ and women’s health and rights.
In her own words: “The most game-changing journalism on women’s issues comes from work that I would best describe as patient, trusting collaboration among women and girls who are willing to talk about the challenges they face, determined reporters, supportive editors, and NGOs and grassroots organizations.”