2018 Freedom Awardee:
International Women’s Media Foundation
(Accepted by Elisa Lees Munoz, Executive Director)
Introduced by: Katie Harbath, Global Politics and Outreach Director, Facebook
Location: Schlüterhof, Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin, Germany
Time: 7:30 p.m. Local
Date: Saturday, June 23, 2018
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats. The program is about to begin.
Please welcome Atlantic Council Executive Vice President Damon Wilson. (Applause.)
DAMON WILSON: Good evening, everyone. I hope you’re enjoying your evening. We’re entering the second half of the program. And Sweden and Germany are at a tie. So we’re going to do our best to compress this program and get you back out to the game tonight. But as you follow along for the second half, please continue to expand the conversation by using the hashtag #ACawards.
As Horst Teltschik and Secretary Albright underscored in the first half, that as we celebrate courageous leaders who have stood for freedom over past decades, we must also remain focused on the important work ahead of us. You will hear shortly from two additional deserving honorees – the International Women’s Media Foundation and the inspiring and talented Aryana Sayeed. But first, I want to draw your attention to the video screen. In partnership with Canada’s Centre for International Governance Innovation, the Atlantic Council is launching an ambitious new initiative aimed at advancing peace, freedom, and prosperity, and advocating the changes that are needed to make these principles work in our time.
After the video, Atlantic Council executive vice chair and co-chair of this particular initiative, former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley will say a few more words on why this effort is so critical. Mr. Hadley, among the world’s greatest strategists himself, has made quite a contribution to the cause of freedom. So let me direct your attention to the video screen.
(A video presentation is shown.)
STEPHEN HADLEY: Good evening, it’s a pleasure to be with you tonight.
Our future security, prosperity and peace will depend on our working together to revise and adapt and reinvigorate the international system in a way that responds to the geopolitical and internal challenges described in the film clip we’ve just seen. The key question will be, what are the common principles that should be the foundation of this 21st century international system?
The effort that Damon Wilson has described and that is captured in the video we just saw is an attempt to answer this crucial question. And I am honored to join Secretary Madeleine Albright, Prime Minister Carl Bildt and former Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi and serving as a cochair of this important and timely initiative. And we are pleased that Tzipi Livni, Wolfgang Ischinger and others who are part of this effort were able to join us in Berlin.
Those of us who are committed to an international system that favors freedom and the rule of law must join together and take action to adapt, revitalize and defend that system. Our effort already includes representatives from both the developed and the developing worlds, including countries like India, Indonesia and Brazil. Our goal is to produce a declaration that outlines the fundamental principles of this rules-based system and sets forth the core beliefs and values that we are striving to uphold.
But it is not sufficient for a group of foreign policy elites to engage with each other. To succeed, we must engage a skeptical public, listen to their concerns and generate formulations of these principles that can gain broad support.
For this reason, over the coming weeks, the Atlantic Council and our Canadian partner will launch an effort to reach out to and engage parliamentary and congressional officials, local and community leaders, the private sector and especially our younger citizens, the next generation, on the principles that should be included in the declaration. If we can secure adequate funding, we plan to use town hall sessions, roundtable events, a web-based crowdsourcing platform and a proactive social media campaign to gain both input and ownership from a broader audience.
Principles and declarations will not themselves bring results. Steps to implement the principles will be as important as the principles themselves. So we will seek to develop actionable strategies to encourage not only governments, but also business, universities, civil society, the voluntary sector and empowered citizens to take concrete actions to defend these principles and advance a rules-based international system. Many such actions can be taken now without waiting for governments.
At the same time, we want to encourage an inclusive international system and we will seek to engage with other global powers, including China, who may not share in all of our principles, but who are willing to work cooperatively to advance those on which we can agree.
This effort cannot succeed without a broad coalition from across our nations to advance our beliefs and fundamental freedoms and democracy, open and inclusive markets, shared values in human rights, and the rule of law. We hope you will join us. The success of such an effort may determine whether the international system descends into chaos and less benevolent actors fill the void, or emerges, revised and revitalized, to build a more stable and prosperous world for everyone.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
(A video presentation is shown.)
ANNOUNCER: Please welcome Katie Harbath, Facebook’s global politics and government outreach director.
KATIE HARBATH: Good evening. I’m Katie Harbath.
Tonight, I have the honor of introducing the third awardee of this evening, the International Women’s Media Foundation. Before I start, can I just say how happy I am that it is, as Secretary Albright said, we are honoring the girls club tonight?
For those of you who don’t – those of you who don’t know about the IWMF, this is an incredible organization, dedicated to ensuring that women journalists across the globe are supported, protected, and recognized. Their work spans across the globe from Latin America to the Great Lakes region of Africa.
To give you an idea of some of the incredible scope and impact of their work, here are just some of the IWMF’s accomplishments. Since 2014, the IWMF has trained more than 400 women journalists worldwide in hostile environment(s) in First Aid training to better prepare them for the potential scenarios they might find themselves in when reporting in dangerous places.
The IWMF has supported more than 250 journalists as IWMF fellows, whose stories have raised awareness and reshaped the press narrative around a range of issues, including food security, women’s empowerment, and conservation. And since 1990, the IWMF has awarded more than 100 women journalists with their annual Courage in Journalism Award to raise awareness of the struggles women journalists face in reporting from countries where threats, intimidation, and government oppression are common, and to honor the women who continue to demonstrate a commitment to press freedom, despite these impediments. One of those journalists, Andrea Bruce, is here today.
There’s another, less obvious, reason that the work of the IWMF is so important and that’s one that I’m intimately familiar with with my role at Facebook. I’m a firm believer that many of the crises of our time result from a disconnect between governments, businesses, and the media. In ensuring that the voices of women and other unrepresentative groups are heard, the IWMF is also doing a great service to close the gap between these different organizations.
Moreover, on a personal note, the first job I ever had was writing – was being a teen reporter for my hometown newspaper, the Green Bay Press-Gazette. I majored in journalism at UW-Madison. And while it’s not the profession I ended up in, journalism is my first love. That’s another reason why I’m in awe and grateful for the work that IWMF does.
So please join me in a round of applause for Executive Director Elisa Lees Munoz, who will be accepting the award on behalf of the International Women’s Media Foundation, 2018 Atlantic Council Freedom Awardee. Thank you. (Applause.)
(The Freedom Award is presented.)
ELISA LEES MUNOZ: Thank you. It is truly a great honor to receive the Atlantic Council’s Freedom Award on behalf of the International Women’s Media Foundation.
Thirty years ago, the IWMF was founded on the principle that the press cannot truly be free without the equal voice of women. We stand by that statement today and challenge the traditional analysis of press freedom that disregards the persistent gender imbalance in the news media. The ability of women to work in and serve as leaders in the news media has broad societal implications.
Sexual harassment, threats, attacks, government oppression, a stubborn glass ceiling, unequal pay, accusations of fake news, and a growing mistrust of the media all threaten press freedom around the world, and female journalists often bear the brunt of these attacks. Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO, has described it as a double attack: women are being targeted both for being journalists and for being female.
The IWMF enables women journalists to have the freedom to report the stories they choose and want to report. For many this means a work environment that is free from harassment, where their ideas are welcomed, where they are paid equally, where policies do not penalize them for their gender, and where they have equal access to assignments and sources.
To be balanced, outlets needs a bench of reporters who reflect the diversity of people and topics they cover. Reporters are and must be versatile. But when most bylines are by men, audiences are not getting the full story or the insights that come from a lived experience.
You can help. On World Press Freedom Day this year we launched a campaign called #CheckYourBylines. We asked people to take note of the gender diversity in their news feeds. For example, in the April/May issues of The Atlantic, six out of eight authors were women. In Foreign Affairs, only three of 29 authors were women. In Foreign Policy, six of 18 authors were women. And in The New Yorker, only four of 21 authors were women.
In Europe, researchers who looked at reporters’ bylines and the images accompanying stories found that in nearly every country in their study, across both print and digital, men wrote most of the content. A diversity of voices in the news media is needed to adequately report the complexities in our world.
Of course, diversity is not only an issue of gender. To give a real-time example, it has been noted that the majority of journalists covering the situation on the Mexico-Texas border do not speak Spanish and are relying on security agents as translators and as sources. What is being missed and whose voices are not being heard?
Imagine the stories that we missed when foreign bureaus in Afghanistan did not hire local females because it caused too many problems with their Afghani male staff; or the voices left silent because, as one IWMF fellow has stated, sometimes it takes going through six men to be able to speak to one woman.
In many countries, a male journalist speaking to females is simply impossible. Yesterday, Andrea Bruce told us about the image that she felt had the most impact. It as an image of a baby who died of hypothermia. She had access to that scene because she is a woman.
However, it is not easy being a woman in the news media today. And the more you know about the peril they face to simply do their job, the more one must admire and honor them.
The IWMF programs are specifically designed to address many of the challenges that they face. Recently, we have focused on providing opportunities to obtain bylines by organizing reporting trips in the Great Lakes region of Africa and Central America, with a specific focus on ensuring diverse reporting in regions where the mainstream coverage is limited and often focused on the negative. We are one of few organizations that provides grants to female journalists to allow them to cover the stories they want, to address the situations where opportunities have been denied.
There is one barrier, however, that inhibits women journalists more than any other. In the era of #MeToo, I would be remiss not to mention the invasive impact of sexual and online harassment on the ability of all of us to achieve balanced and free journalism. Two-thirds of women journalists worldwide have been victims of harassment, according to our research. And an astounding 60 percent experience these attacks in their place of work. Who would have thought that a female journalist is in greater peril at the hands of her colleagues and supervisors than she is in the field?
But the online world is where journalists experience most threats, and attacks, and intimidation today. According to IWMF research that will be published later this summer, 90 percent of respondents to our survey believe that online harassment is on the rise. Female respondents believe that their gender is the leading contributor. These experiences have a profound and long-lasting effect on journalists. At least a third of respondents to our survey have symptoms similar to those of PTSD due to online harassment. The effects also run deep in the heart of the industry. Thirty percent of respondents report practicing some form of self-censorship and 29 percent have contemplated leaving the profession altogether. Attacks against female journalists are personal. They are often violent in tone and misogynistic. And they are driving people out of the profession, which should worry all of us.
As I accept the 2018 Atlantic Council Freedom Award on behalf of the International Women’s Media Foundation, I challenge each of you to help change the status quo. This is a room full of leaders and influencers. If each of you simply asks whether you’re received balanced information by noticing the gender of your newsfeed and choosing to click on articles written by women, commenting to media outlets when you see a lack of diversity, and standing up for those you see being harassed online and in person, you will be part of the solution. As our friend and benefactor Howard Buffett has said, if there are people out there trying to shut women journalists up, let’s make it hard for them. Thank you. (Applause.)