The Beijing Platform for Action, developed at a 1995 United Nations conference, set an agenda for women’s empowerment and identified 12 critical areas of concern. Twenty years after Beijing, ShareAmerica assesses global progress in each critical area. This article focuses on women’s contributions to news media.

Since the 1970s, women worldwide have played increasingly important roles delivering the news, both as journalists and more recently as media executives. They have even given their lives in pursuit of press freedom.

Women’s Edition journalists at a United Nations session on the status of women. (Courtesy of Women’s Edition)

Strengthening women’s role

New opportunities and training open doors for women in media. Magazines like India’s Manushi and American Muslim Azizah not only feature women’s writing, they were founded and are run by women. Organizations such as USAID-funded PRB Women’s Edition prepare women for journalism careers, while the African group Gender Links runs its own news service and trains women journalists to counter gender-biased messages and images in news, advertising, films and television programs. And women citizen journalists are making their marks in cities, rural villages and war zones.

Investigative journalist Brankica Stanković won the 2014 IWMF Courage in Journalism Award for exposing corruption and organized crime. (Courtesy of Dejana Batalović/IWMF)

The International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF), founded in 1990 by U.S. women journalists to strengthen the role of women journalists worldwide, offers training and grants and has recognized the work of women from 53 countries with its annual Courage in Journalism Award. Winners include Serbian investigative journalist Brankica Stanković, who has lived under police protection since 2009 after receiving numerous threats against her life, and Colombia’s Claudia Julieta Duque, who has been abducted, robbed and forced into exile three times between 2001 and 2008, but continues her work.

Pulitzer Prize–winning photojournalist Anja Niedringhaus was killed while covering the 2014 Afghan elections. Veteran AP reporter Kathy Gannon was seriously injured in the same incident. (© AP Images)

In March 2015 IWMF chose Jerusalem-based freelance photographer Heidi Levine as the inaugural winner of the Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award, which honors the legacy of Pulitzer Prize–winning photographer Anja Niedringhaus, killed while reporting in Afghanistan in 2014. In announcing the award, IWMF said Levine’s “courage and commitment to the story in Gaza is unwavering, documenting tragic events under dire circumstances and also displaying a depth of compassion for the people she encounters.”

Women stand alongside men, taking the same risks to report the news, protecting your right to know.