International Women's Media Foundation

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International Women's Media Foundation
Nonprofit organization
Industry Journalism, Human Rights, Social Justice, Women's Rights
Founded 1990
Headquarters Washington, D.C., United States

The International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF), located in Washington, D.C., is a network of thousands of women journalists working internationally to elevate the status of women in the media.[1] The IWMF has created groundbreaking programs to help women in the media develop practical solutions to the obstacles they face in their careers and lives. Highlights of the IWMF's work include the Courage in Journalism Awards, the Lifetime Achievement Awards, the Leadership Institute and the Reporting on Agriculture and Women Project. The IWMF also supports an international free press and often forms petitions asking international governments to release journalists in captivity and offer protection to journalists in danger.

Twentieth Anniversary[edit]

2010 marks the twentieth anniversary of the IWMF. An International Conference of Women Leaders will be held at George Washington University in March 2011 in order to commemorate this anniversary and reflect on the status of women in the media. The conference will bring together the top women in the news media from around the world to create a plan of action to move women forward in their journalistic professions.

Global Report on the Status of Women in the News Media[edit]

The Global Report on the Status of Women in the News Media[2] will offer the first ever comprehensive picture of the status of women in the news media. Conducted in more than 60 countries, the Global Report engaged more than 500 media companies to answer detailed questions about the women in their organizations. Data will illustrate the extent to which women have advanced professionally in reporting, editing, producing and other news occupations, as well as in administrative, policy and governance levels. The study will also identify factors that both contribute to and inhibit gender equality in the media industry. The report will be used as the basis for the action plan that will be created at the International Conference of Women Leaders. The IWMF will use the report to advocate for change for women in the media.

Courage in Journalism Awards[edit]

The IWMF annually awards three woman journalists with the only international award that recognizes the bravery of women journalists.[3] Courage in Journalism Awards shine a light on the lack of press freedom around the world and the danger that journalists, especially women, face.[4] Courage in Journalism Awards winners have suffered harassment, physical attacks, rape and death threats because they report stories about government malfeasance, genocide, war, human rights violations, women's rights and crimes against humanity. The awards are presented each year at ceremonies in New York and Los Angeles.

  • The 2010 Courage in Journalism Award winners were Claudia Duque (Colombia), Tsering Woeser (Tibet) and Vicky Ntetema (Tanzania).[5][6][7]
  • The 2013 Courage in Journalism Award winners were "Najiba Ayubi, director of The Killid Group in Afghanistan; Nour Kelze, a photographer for Reuters in Syria; Bopha Phorn, a reporter for The Cambodia Daily, and Edna Machirori, the first black female editor of a newspaper in Zimbabwe."[8] The event was hosted by Cindi Leive and Olivia Wilde at the Beverly Hills Hotel.[8]
  • The 2014 Courage in Journalism Award winners were Arwa Damon (CNN, Lebanon), Solange Lusiku Nsimire (Le Souverain, Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Brankica Stanković (RTV B92, Serbia).[9]

Lifetime Achievement Awards[edit]

Each year the IWMF honors women who have had groundbreaking careers in journalism with the Lifetime Achievement Awards. These veteran journalists have shattered glass ceilings, elevated the principles of journalistic practice and become role models.[10] Award recipients include Alma Guillermoprieto from Mexico (2010), Amira Hass from Israel (2009) and Edith Lederer from the United States (2008)[11]

Leadership Institute for Women Journalists[edit]

In 1998 the IWMF launched an annual week-long Leadership Institute for veteran woman journalists. The institutes train women to maintain successful careers in media organizations and provide the necessary skills to allow women to become leaders in their newsrooms. Veteran newswomen come together to share leadership styles, strategies for managing people and change, tips for negotiating salary, navigating politics and balancing work and home.[12] These institutes are held in the U.S. as well as worldwide. The 2009 U.S. Leadership Institute was held in Chicago, July 20–22. Past Institutes have been held in Mali (2010), Uganda (2009) and Lithuania (2008).

  • Africa

The Leadership Institutes in Africa began in 1998 in Zimbabwe. The IWMF pioneered leadership training for women journalists in Africa. Training is conducted in English-speaking and French-speaking African nations, including one in Kampala, Uganda (2009) and Bamako, Mali (2010).

  • Europe

The Leadership Institutes in Europe began in the 1990s. The most recent institute was held in 2008 for women journalists from the former Soviet Republics. Participants discussed the challenges of media management, the perception of women journalists in the former Soviet Republics and the qualities and attitudes that produce inspired and inspiring leaders. The institute was held in Vilnius, Lithuania.

  • Latin America

The Leadership Institutes in Latin America began in Mexico in 1998. Past institutes have been held in Nicaragua, Argentina and Ecuador (2001). Additional training was provided online to Latin American women journalists in 2004.

  • United States

The Leadership Institutes in the U.S. provide critical career building skills and the opportunity to network with colleagues. Women news executives use role-playing and other practical exercises to demonstrate leadership styles and share strategies. The sixth annual U.S. Leadership Institute was held July 2009 in Chicago. During the three months following the institute, participants received one-on-one coaching on implementing personalized action plans developed during the institute.

Elizabeth Neuffer Fellowship[edit]

One woman journalist who covers human rights and social justice issues is chosen annually for the Elizabeth Neuffer fellowship. The program is named for Elizabeth Neuffer, a 1998 IWMF Courage in Journalism Award winner and Boston Globe correspondent who was killed in Iraq in May 2003. The IWMF Elizabeth Neuffer Fellowship perpetuates her memory and advances her life mission of promoting international understanding of human rights and social justice.[13]

This fellowship gives the journalist the opportunity to spend an academic year in a tailored program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Center for International Studies with access to The Boston Globe and The New York Times. The flexible structure of the program provides the fellows with opportunities to pursue academic research and hone reporting skills covering topics related to human rights. Past Neuffer Fellows have been from Colombia, Australia, Iraq and the United States.

Reporting on Agriculture and Women Project[edit]

The Reporting on Agriculture and Women Project is changing the way the media cover agriculture, rural development and farming stories.[14] The IWMF provides training to journalists to help them effectively provide coverage of agriculture and the role of women in transforming food production and rural development in African countries.

The project's goals include raising the quantity and quality of reporting on farming and rural development, focusing more reporting on the importance of women to the economics of rural areas and creating more gender equality in newsrooms. In February 2009 the IWMF published its research in a publication titled Sowing the Seeds, which revealed three key findings.

  • Even though agriculture plays a crucial role for Africa's economic growth, it comprises only four percent of media coverage.
  • Whether female or male, farmers' voices are seldom heard in agricultural coverage. In the agricultural stories monitored 70 percent of the sources were government officials and experts/professionals. Only 20 percent were farmers and other rural/agricultural workers.
  • Women are almost invisible in the media. Even though women produce 70 percent of food in sub-Saharan Africa and make up half of the region's population just 11 percent of the sources and 22 percent of the reporters are women.

Using the same model as the Maisha Yetu project, Centers of Excellence were created in L'Essor and Radio Klédu in Mali, The Daily Monitor and Uganda Broadcasting Corporation in Uganda and The Times of Zambia and Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation in Zambia. The IWMF staff and experienced local trainers provide on-site training to journalists.

The Maisha Yetu project[edit]

This project is no longer running. In 2002, working with a $1.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the IWMF created the Maisha Yetu project to enhance the quality and consistency of reporting on HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria in Africa. The first phase of the project was qualitative and quantitative research on how the media cover HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria, which was published as Deadline for Health: The Media's Response to Covering HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria in Africa.

The second phase of Maisha Yetu was the creation of Centers of Excellence in three African countries with the goal of creating practical, sustainable measures to help African media improve their health coverage. A report on the project, Writing for Our Lives: How the Maisha Yetu Project Changed Health Coverage in Africa, was published in July 2006. A conference was also held in Johannesburg, South Africa in July 2006, where representatives from the Centers of Excellence shared their experiences with representatives from key African media and nongovernmental and women's organizations.

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