The Coalition for Women in Journalism has brought together a selection of inspiring female journalists, past and present, to celebrate both Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day.
“On International Women’s Day, The Coalition For Women In Journalism (CFWIJ) salutes the remarkable contribution of women journalists to groundbreaking reporting. As we celebrate these journalists, we reiterate the alarming deterioration of their safety worldwide. Women’s voices continue to be underrepresented and belittled in the media. CFWIJ joins the worldwide celebration of International Women’s Day. We use this occasion to appreciate female reporters who, despite the glass ceiling and systematic sexism, tirelessly seek the truth,” they wrote in a statement.
CFWIJ was created to raise awareness about the struggles and violations female journalists face and also to celebrate their success.
“For the next few days, we will continue to travel the world and bring to your attention the women of past and present, who continue to build a future our coming generations would be proud of,” they wrote on Twitter.
Carrying forward the legacy of a equality and freedom in #France is @Lea_Lejeune, the president of @Prenonsla1, an association striving for media parity. We're so grateful to have a voice like Lea's! Hear what she had to say about women in journalism. #HerstorywithCFWIJ pic.twitter.com/qmbDxrIJvO
— #WomenInJournalism (@CFWIJ) March 6, 2021
The project included prominent journalists from history such as Ella Cora Hind, a journalist, activist and suffragist that was refused a position as a journalist by the Manitoba Free Press because they said she was an inexperienced female journalist.
Marguerite Higgins was also mentioned, a woman who covered WWII and the Korean War, despite it being believed it was not a place for women.
In Turkey, Vasfiye Ozkocak was the first female legal correspondent in the country. She went on to become the president of the Social Aid Foundation for Journalists.
They also recognized Barbara Blake Hannah who was the first black journalist to appear on TV in the UK in 1968. She was fired just one year later because of her race but today, a British journalism award is named after her.
The sister of assassinated Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, Corrine Vella who is now a part of the Daphne Caurana Galizia Foundation spoke of the obstacles her sister faced and the importance of journalism in functioning democracies.
“Women journalists are harassed socially, economically, even physically. This was the experience of my sister Daphne Caruana Galizia. She faced decades of harassment before she was killed. We can’t have functioning democracies without journalism. If journalists give up, we all lose. As Daphne had written “We are not going to find out the truth unless we keep chasing. it” and to do that we need to make sure journalists are protected,” she wrote.
The organization also compiled a list of modern-day journalists who have fought back against obstacles placed in their way. They included Exit journalist Alice Taylor on the list who spoke of the importance of solidarity and remembering women’s duty to speak up.
Today in #Albania lives #AliceTaylor (@The_Balkanista). Alice works for some incredible platforms such as @TheShiftNews and #ExitNews. Listen to Alice talk about the lives of women in journalism, and what they are striving for. #HerstoryWithCFWIJ pic.twitter.com/UEU7zzrhwM
— #WomenInJournalism (@CFWIJ) March 8, 2021
“As female journalists, we are more predisposed to gender-based harassment, gender-based verbal violence, and threats. This is a sad reality of the world we live in. But for me, as someone who’s been on the receiving end of this kind of behavior but has also seen it happen to countless friends and colleagues, I think the best thing to do is not to let it silence us,” she said.
“The best advice I can give to female journalists who are concerned about issues we might face because of our sex is to look for support around you, find people that support you, reach out to media organizations for their help and advocacy, and most importantly, keep doing what you are doing. There’s a quote I really like and it’s “speak the truth even if your voice shakes”, this is especially important for all journalists working in the media world today, Taylor added.
Other current journalists included Hannah Ajala from West Africa, Pakistani journalist Afia Salam, Kathy Gannon, Sulome Anderson, Canan Kaya, Aylin Nazliaka, and Léa Lejeune.
Recent figures from the CFWIJ recorded a staggering 97 cases of violence and harassment against female journalists in February. This was a 61.6% increase from December 2020.
“On this International Women’s Day, The Coalition For Women In Journalism encourages women’s rights organizations, feminist groups, and human rights bodies to continue striving for equal rights and opportunities, better health facilities, and the right to education for every girl. We ask countries across the globe to address the structural stereotypes that bar women’s rights and freedom. We urge the governments to empower working women journalists by holding perpetrators accountable, conducting transparent inquiries, and taking meaningful action towards change,” they concluded.