IWMF Courage Awards Honor Risk-Taking Female Journalists

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Tuesday Oct 29, 2013

On October 23 in New York City, the International Women's Media Foundation honored esteemed, risk-taking reporters with the 2013 Courage in Journalism Awards.

The events were held in Manhattan at Cipriani on East 42nd Street, with co-hosts Christiane Amanpour and Cynthia McFadden. Presenting the esteemed awards were George Stephanopoulos, Norah O'Donnell, Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff.

"Almost half the world's population lives in countries where there is no press freedom... places where simply calling yourself a journalist can be life-threatening," said McFadden in her welcoming remarks. "Year after year, we find ourselves using the same words to describe what these women endure simply for doing their jobs: threatened, jailed, exiled, kidnapped, raped, shot, killed."

This year's honorees were The Killid Group Director Najiba Ayubi of Afghanistan; Reuters photographer Nour Kelze of Syria; and Bopha Phorn, a reporter at The Cambodian Daily.

PBS Newshour’s female power duo, Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill, presented the 2013 Courage Award to Syrian photojournalist Kelze in her absence, as she was unable to attend the event. Painting a picture of life as a journalist in the destroyed city of Aleppo, they said: "Dodging sniper fire and has become part of Kelze’s daily routine. She has been shot at numerous times, and she is often targeted in propaganda by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime."

"This award is for Syria -- for standing strong still after all the hardships since the past till the present day and even in the future," wrote Kelze in a letter. "Syria will survive... let the whole world know. We will survive."

ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos, presenting the Courage in Journalism Award to Ayubi, told the audience: "As the military prepares for a drawdown next year and international funding decreases, the number of Afghan media outlets has begun to decline. But Ayubi continues the fight for free press, which she considers essential for progress in her country."

"Journalism is not my job, it is my life," said Ayubi as she accepted the award, dedicating it to all journalists in Afghanistan who are working in very difficult situations, reporting on corruption, drug trafficking, transitional justice and the illegal appropriation of public land.

Zimbabwe’s first black female editor, Edna Machirori, was honored with the IWMF Lifetime Achievement Award, given each year to a woman journalist whose determination has paved the way for others in the news media.

"Machirori took many young women under her wing and taught them to be reporters who excelled in their field, as well as adept professionals who could navigate the discrimination and sexual harassment that plagued women in the media," said Glamour magazine Editor-in-Chief Cindi Leive, while presenting the award.

Bank of America Global Strategy and Marketing officer Anne Finucane also received the inaugural IWMF Leadership Award based on the company’s outstanding support of women’s issues, and her personal commitment to developing female leaders around the world.

The Courage in Journalism Awards attract the most notable of newsmakers each year. This year’s event featured women including Marie Claire’s Anne Fulenwider; CNN’s Kate Bolduan and Parisa Khosravi; A+E Network’s Nancy Dubuc; Estée Lauder’s Deborah Krulewitch; Hearst Corporation’s Sally Susman; NBC News’ Deborah Turness; PBS NewsHours’ Judy Woodruff, and many more.

Including this year’s award winners, 78 journalists have won Courage Awards, and 22 journalists have been honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards. For the past 22 years, the IWMF Courage in Journalism Awards have honored women journalists who show extraordinary strength of character and integrity while reporting the news under dangerous or difficult circumstances.

The IWMF is a Washington-based organization founded in 1990 by a group of prominent U.S. women journalists dedicated to strengthening the role of female journalists worldwide.

"The news media are not truly free and representative without the equal voice of women," write the IWMF. "[We] celebrate the courage of women journalists who overcome threats and oppression to speak out on global issues. The IWMF’s programs empower women journalists with the training, support and network to become leaders in the news industry."

The L.A. Awards ceremony will be held on Oct. 29 at the Beverly Hills Hotel; the group will live blog the event via YouTube.

For more information about the Courage in Journalism Awards, visit www.iwmf.org/courage, or follow them on Twitter.

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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