International Women's Day 2018 - Press for Progress | Institute for War and Peace Reporting


Press for Progress

The number of people leaving their homes in war torn countries such as Syria, marks the largest migration of people since World War II. © Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Standing Up for Change

Women’s rights are a pathway to addressing social and political challenges around the world.

By Anthony Borden

Women are pressing publicly as never before for a realignment of relations between the genders and showing courage to stand up with fresh boldness – in offices and on the streets, in the press and social media, even before global audiences at the Academy Awards.

All these women take risks and deserve congratulations – and the men who stand with them.

Yet on International Women’s Day, IWPR celebrates those women who are standing up in even more challenging circumstances, and indeed those women who always have.

In some of the most dangerous environments anywhere around the world, these women provide inspiration and hope. In areas of conflict, it is so often women who protect the family, sustain a semblance of normal life, drive humanitarian services – and take a stand against war itself.

In areas of dictatorship, it is so often women who lead human rights groups, build coalitions of support for democratic values, and nurture a plural and civic vision against corrupt cartels and “business as usual”.

And in areas of extreme religious influence, it is women who must find ways to take on a whole system and tradition of control – from access to education and work to health care and sexual choice. The ultimate challenge is to shift an entire mind set of human relations and the goal is in fact the liberation of both genders.

Over a quarter of a century, IWPR has been honoured to work with and to support an extraordinary line up of courageous women: from leading human rights defenders Natasha Kandic and Sonja Biserko in Belgrade to Gordana Igric and the entire women-led team of our former colleagues at the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, from top frontline war reporters Gjeraqina Tuhina (Kosovo), Galima Bukharbaeva (Uzbekistan) and the late Sahar al-Haidari (Iraq) and Anna Politskaya (Russia) to the remarkable Nobel Laureate and former IWPR trainee Malala Yousafzai, and continuing now to award-winning Syrian documentary filmmaker Zaina Erhaim, among many others.

It is a long and storied roll call, and well beyond coincidence. Perhaps from their exclusion from male-dominated structures, women are sometimes able to see the problems more clearly: war makers cannot be peace builders. Perhaps, with less of a stake, they have less to lose and more of a motivation for change. Perhaps, suffering so sharply, they have no other choice but to fight – peacefully – for change, whether through the media, through activism or via the ballot box.

Just last week I was incredibly moved to meet a pair of local women activists who, unable to travel any other way, drove 24 hours across the highly insecure badlands of Libya to attend an IWPR training conference in Tunis – amazing tenacity and bravery. Special mention too to our proud partnership with the Marie Colvin Journalists’ Network, commemorating the loss of a dear friend and one of the best war correspondents of a generation, and supporting continuing training and mentoring for female reporters across the Middle East.

The fact is that time has been up for a very, very long time, but a hashtag, however powerful, is not enough. For our part, IWPR is committed to continuing and expanding women’s programming, as well as “mainstreaming” its focus on gender equality within all activities. That will take work, and we pledge to keep at it. Women’s rights are absolutely human rights, and a pathway to addressing so many of the social and political challenges in difficult environments around the world.

Meantime, whether in the board room or the frontlines, we salute the women – and the men – of courage working at such risk to make change. Your courage and your efforts inspire us to recommit to our own.

Anthony Borden
IWPR Executive Director

IWPR works to champion issues of women’s rights around the globe while supporting female reporters in sometimes challenging environments. Our journalists, editors and partners not only highlight inequalities and abuses but also celebrate the achievements of women driving change in their own societies.

The Post-Revolution Pioneers

By IWPR Libya


IWPR hosted a three-day conference in Tunis to mark the launch of Post-Revolution Pioneers, its report into women's civil society groups in Libya.


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Holistic Digital Security Training Curriculum for Women Human Rights Defenders


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Satellite site:


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Avan Jaff, Iraqi Kurdish journalist and an IWPR trainee. (Photo: Courtesy of Safin Hamid for IWPR)

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Afghan Women Hounded Out of the Media

# Campaign of intimidation has had devastating effect in Afghan country's east.

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Kyrgyz Women Call for More Religious Representation


Complaints that communal bodies exclude female voices from organisation roles.

By Timur Toktonaliev | 19 Feb 18

Community centre for Islamic education in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. (Photo: UN Women/Rena Effendi)


Tajikistan's Abandoned Wives

# Many men find new partners while working abroad, leaving families at home without support.

By Timur Toktonaliev | 19 Feb 18

Up to a quarter of the Tajik population are labour migrants, almost all men. Women back in Tajikistan are left to take care of their families. (Photo: Adil Nurmakov/Flickr)


New Generation of Independent Women Journalists


Writers are making the most of online opportunities.

By Vera Penêda | 8 Jun 17

(L to R) Carla Colomé, 26, reporter and editor from El Estornudo; Marita Pérez Díaz, 27, journalist and eco-editor of OnCuba Magazine; and Elaine Díaz, 31, director of Periodismo de Barrio. (Photo: Vera Penêda)

How one woman was inspired to make a difference.

Manar Al-Zybaidi was trained by IWPR in August 2016 on campaigning and advocacy as a part of the Baladna Tariqna project.

She came up with an idea for a campaign to improve negative attitudes towards Iraq’s gypsy community.

In Al-Fawar village in Al-Diwaniyeh governorate, 180 km south of Baghdad, some 400 gypsies were living in dire conditions amid discrimination, isolation and persecution. The village had been without a school since 2003.

In early 2017, supported by IWPR, Manar mobilised a team of volunteers to teach 75 children basic literacy so as to enable them to enter mainstream schools. UNICEF also decided to support Manar’s initiative.

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