Journalist and woman: A double challenge

Celebrating the first anniversary of the Iraqi Women Journalists Forum. Photo: Fabienne Vinet / UNAMI PIO Celebrating the first anniversary of the Iraqi Women Journalists Forum. Photo: Fabienne Vinet / UNAMI PIO

By Fabienne Vinet, PIO, UNAMI

Being a journalist in Iraq is still often a challenge, but being a woman journalist in Iraq is even more difficult. Under-represented, often underestimated and poorly equipped, the route is not easy for the women who hope to work in media.

“Female journalists and media professionals working on human rights issues and on issues related to accountability and access to justice are particularly vulnerable to threats and intimidation,” confirms Mr. Francesco Motta, the Director of the UNAMI Human Rights Office and Representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Iraq.

Yet, there is hope. Conscious of their lack of power in the mainstream media, a group of women journalists have decided to organize themselves to make their voices count, with the support of UN Women: In mid-January 2013, the Iraqi Women Journalists Forum celebrated its first year of existence.

“UNWomen was glad to be there to demonstrate the important role that women can play in the media in Iraq to help empower other women,” said UNWomen Representative in Iraq, Ms. Frances Guy.

Leading women’s rights advocate Ms. Hanaa Edwar, for her part, mentioned the significant role played by women in the media throughout the years, underlining the importance for women journalists to work together. “Progress will come only if women speak out with a strong, united voice on issues that affect them,” she stated. 
The idea for the Iraqi Women Journalists Forum originated with Ms. Nebrass Almamori. The passionate Iraqi journalist decided to set up the forum because she felt that the voices of women were not taken seriously inside the Iraqi Journalists Union (IJU).

“Women in the media are generally there only for the picture,” she emphasized, adding that women today should be able to occupy any position in the media field.

The initiative also included the production and broadcast of a series of TV documentaries about violence against women in Iraq, also sponsored by UNWomen. “This project was an opportunity to increase awareness about violence against women, but also to promote the work of camerawomen, women sound technicians, women journalists and women presenters,” added Ms. Guy.

Cartoons:  When images are worth a thousand words

A cartoon exhibition at the celebration of the first anniversary of the Iraqi Women Journalists Forum was organized by the Rafidain Women’s Coalition to end violence against women and girls in Iraq. The drawings illustrated the countless challenges faced by Iraqi women in their daily lives.

The amount of work a woman has to accomplish at home while the men of the family are resting, violence against women and early marriage for young girls were among the issues illustrated by the cartoons drawn by Mr. Salam Mahmoud, broaching subjects that are still considered taboos in parts of Iraqi society.
“Cartoons are a very effective way to carry messages and can have a powerful impact on readers,” commented Ms. Guy.

Last modified on Monday, 09 February 2015 12:22

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