IWMF: Why what we do matters
No press can truly be free without the equal voice of women, yet not all voices are welcome when it comes to reporting the news. In recent years, we’ve seen women around the world taking their place in the news industry — breaking barriers and challenging stereotypes in their pursuit of equality and the truth. But there is still work to be done.
In 1990, a group of groundbreaking female journalists created a space for themselves in the male-dominated news media by founding the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF). Their first initiative was to honor their brave female colleagues and recognize the increasingly crucial role played by women in the communications industry. The awards they created served to honor individuals whose courage in journalism earned them distinction and advanced the status of women in the industry. These awards became the prestigious Courage in Journalism Awards and for almost 30 years, the IWMF has honored more than 100 women from 56 countries.
The founding group of women journalists understood the power a diversity of voices could bring to the news industry and in 1991 the IWMF launched its first overseas program in Czechoslovakia. The program, while largely discussion based with panels of journalists and experts, opened the door to transforming the organization into what it is today. More reporters and journalists covering the news in Eastern Europe led to diverse stories and perspectives covering the region — a model that we sought to bring to other underreported areas of the world.
As our community of incredible women journalists grew, we gained unique insight into the deeper needs of women working in the industry. Limited resources, funding gaps, and old stereotypes continue to impact women’s ability to report. Noting this, we expanded and diversified our support to serve and empower women journalists around the world to put cracks in the oh-so-persistent glass ceiling. We are one of the only organizations exclusively providing grants, on the ground reporting opportunities, emergency assistance, and safety training all for women journalists. From groundbreaking reporting, to seed funding for major initiatives, we have proudly supported journalists in transforming the global narrative and diversifying our news feeds.
From our strong beginnings we became who we are today, an organization run by women, powered by women, to unleash the potential for female journalists worldwide. What started with the Courage in Journalism Awards, and is still fueled by the ambition our founders set, has now grown into an organization that challenges the status quo by investing time, training, and funding in the next group of trailblazing, badass female journos.