FEARLESS FEMALES: Four women were honored Wednesday by the International Women’s Media Foundation. Only three of the journalists were able to attend the event at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York, however. Reeyot Alemu, a columnist for the Ethiopian publication Feteh, is in jail serving a five-year sentence after she wrote about the poverty and lack of balance in Ethiopia’s politics.
In a letter Alemu wrote from prison in which she thanked the IWMF for the award and underscored the dangers of repressive societies, she said, “For me, journalists are the voice of the voiceless.”
Khadija Ismayilova, an Azerbaijani investigative journalist for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, has reported about the president’s use of official power to further his personal business dealings. “I share the bitterness of not having Reeyot here, as she’s in prison,” Ismayilova said. The Azerbaijani regime counts on silence to “help them to continue depriving their people of opportunities,” she said. “The silence is so loud, it might deafen society.”
Blogger and freelance journalist Asmaa al-Ghoul was beaten, assaulted and tortured while doing her job in the Palestinian territory’s Gaza Strip. “When I was writing about female victims of honor killings, I felt those girls were calling me,” al-Ghoul said, explaining what compels her to do her work.
Seventy-year-old Pakistani editor, author and columnist Zubeida Mustafa received the lifetime achievement award. The first woman on the editorial board of Dawn, an English-language daily paper, Mustafa fought to get more coverage for women’s issues in all sections of the paper. Yet when she went to interview the Pakistani president as part of the press corps, she was told “it was a stag party.” “Today, the hens are having a field day,” she said. The awards were presented by CBS News’ Leslie Stahl, ABC News’ Bob Woodruff, NBC News’ Ann Curry and Judy Woodruff of PBS. The event was co-hosted by ABC News/CNN’s Christiane Amanpour and Cynthia McFadden of ABC News.