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The IWMF Announces 2020 Courage in Journalism Award Winners

The International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) today announced the recipients of its 30th annual Courage in Journalism Awards. Marking 30 years of exceptional courage in reporting, this year’s winners include Jessikka Aro of Finland’s Yle; imprisoned Egyptian multimedia journalist Solafa Magdy; Yakeen Bido, a freelance broadcast journalist in Syria; and, Uighur journalist of Radio Free Asia, Gulchehra Hoja.

From left: Jessikka Aro, Yakeen Bido, Gulchehra Hoja, and Solafa Magdy (Source: IWMF)

“Right now, the pursuit of truth, and the need for diverse journalism, is at a critical high,” said the IWMF’s Executive Director Elisa Lees Muñoz. “This year’s Courage in Journalism Award winners remind us that those who tell the world’s most vital stories, whatever the risk may be, are our true heroes. We congratulate Jessikka, Solafa, Yakeen and Gulchehra for your spectacular work and uncommon bravery.”

Jessikka Aro reports from the frontlines of Russian information warfare, conducting courageous investigations inside troll factories while enduring incessant attacks and sexual harassment. Committed to stories of human rights and social unrest, Solafa Magdy was arrested in Cairo in November 2019 for her reporting and is still imprisoned under deteriorating conditions. Yakeen Bido broadcasts from one of the most dangerous environments on earth – Idleb – and is the first woman to appear on-camera from the city to document the price of war on the vulnerable. Having lost everything except for her life, Gulchehra Hoja reports on Uighur detention camps in China. Her entire family faces constant government surveillance, harassment and have endured numerous detentions.

“I am extremely honored to receive the Courage in Journalism Award,” says Hoja. “I hope this recognition will encourage fellow journalists and many others to stand up for justice and truth.” Bido adds, “This award is a symbol of courage not only for me, but for all women working in the press.” She continues, “It is an honor to have my name among the other winners – women who sacrifice their personal freedom in order to face social injustice.”

Advocate for Solafa Magdy

Awardee Solafa Magdy has been jailed in pre-trial detention since November 2019, when she was abducted and detained following a raid of independent news outlets in Cairo. She has not been heard from directly since her arrest.

On Wednesday, May 20, Amnesty International delivered the IWMF's press release announcing her award, as well as a list of more than 20,000 signatures urging Solafa's release, to the Egyptian Embassy in Brussels. Along with a multitude of press freedom organizations, we continue to demand her freedom.

The IWMF Courage in Journalism Award

The Courage in Journalism Awards show people that female journalists are not going to step aside, cannot be silenced, and deserve to be recognized for their strength in the face of adversity. It honors the brave journalists who report on taboo topics, work in environments hostile to women, and share difficult truths. 

The IWMF also recognizes the pioneers who kicked down barriers to make it possible for women all over the world to find their voices and make them heard. Lifetime Achievement Award winners persevered, opening doors for future generations to make a difference. These women demonstrate a commitment to press freedom and extraordinary strength of character, overcoming unjust conditions to become leaders in their industry.

The IWMF has so far awarded the Courage in Journalism award to more than 100 journalists in 56 countries, including former Prachatai director Chiranuch Premchaiporn, who received the award in 2011.