In March, we celebrate International Women’s Day. And what better way to celebrate than to exalt amazing women who have revolutionized their professions?
Today, we’ve separated 5 incredible women journalists who have been responsible for covering conflict zones and bringing a little bit of reality about the horrors of the battlefields closer to us.
- Joanie de Rijke
Joanie de Rijke is a Dutch freelance journalist responsible for writing several articles about conflict zones around the world, focusing on the areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In November 2008, Joanie was kidnapped and held hostage for six days by the Taliban, in Afghanistan. A year later, she turned her experience into a book, In the Hands of the Taliban, in which she recounts the details of what happened and the violence she suffered. Despite the trauma, Joanie showed understanding for her kidnappers in the book, a fact that earned the writer several mixed reviews.
“I couldn’t be sure whether the ransom would be paid, which meant I didn’t know what was going to happen to me. To break the constant tension, you have to talk to each other. The situation was very tense. The whole atmosphere was very tense. The commander, one moment he was friendly to me, and the next moment he went mad because – I don’t know – of some news he got, and then he threatened to kill me. So, there was always tension. And to break that tension, you had to talk and laugh a bit. It was a matter of surviving.”, said Joanie about her kidnapping in an interview with Radio Netherlands Worldwide.
Nevertheless, she remains passionate and active in the field, covering conflicts in other regions, such as Syria and Libya. In 2016, she even witnessed the death of her friend and photojournalist Jeroen Oerlemans by an Islamic State sniper while they were working on a report on the war in Libya.
- Gerda Taro
Gerda Taro was a pioneer in the field of war photojournalism, bringing a leading female role into the history of the profession and being responsible for modernizing this type of photography.
Born in Germany, she always showed a great interest in the political and social agendas of her country. Because of Nazism, she had to flee to France, where she would meet her future husband, Robert Capa. Together, the pair was responsible for documenting the Spanish Civil War in 1936, up until the moment Gerda was killed when she was run over by a tank.
However, despite this very important role and the representation she brings to all women journalists, her role is unknown to many people, and she is seen only as of the great love of Capa, who became one of the greatest photojournalists in history.
- Amanda Lindhout
After being kidnapped and held for 15 months by Islamic insurgents while covering the political situation in southern Somalia in 2008, Lindhout took a new line in her career and, besides being a journalist, she also became a philanthropist.
Following 460 days of moral, physical, and sexual violence, Lindhout was released due to the ransom payment made by her family, who gave up the support of the Canadian police and hired a firm that specialized in kidnapping and ransom.
“The dirty water they gave me to drink caused pain in my stomach. I was trapped in a dark room for months. In order not to give up living, I started to repeat a mantra, which I learned in Canada: ‘Through this breath I choose freedom. Through this breath I choose peace,” says Amanda.
Today, Amanda is a strong activist in the cause of women’s rights. Besides, she has created an NGO called Global Enrichment Foundation to help Somali women by offering university scholarships. After all she suffered over there, Lindhout has committed herself to the cause of helping women who live in the country and suffer similar scenarios of violence daily.
- Marie Colvin
Marie Colvin was an award-winning American journalist who worked for The Sunday Times as an international correspondent. She specialized in the Middle East and also covered conflicts in Chechnya, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, and East Timor.
Winner of the International Women’s Foundation Award for Courage in Journalism for her coverage of Kosovo and Chechnya, she has written and produced several documentaries about her experiences. Colvin also lost sight in her left eye in the field due to a rocket-propelled grenade explosion by the Sri Lankan Army, after which she wore a trademark eye patch.
In February 2012, Colvin crossed illegally into Syria to cover the conflict, ignoring attempts by the Syrian government to prevent foreign journalists from entering without permission. There, Colvin and the French photographer Rémi Ochlik were killed, officially, by an “improvised explosive device filled with nails” planted by terrorists.
But, this story was refuted by Paul Conroy, a photographer who was with Colvin and Ochlik and survived the attack. Conroy recalled that Colvin and Ochlik were packing their equipment when Syrian artillery fire hit them. In 2016, lawyers for Colvin’s family filed a civil suit against the Syrian government, claiming that they had obtained evidence that they had directly ordered her murder.
- Adriana Carranca
A Brazilian representation for this list, Carranca is a columnist and special reporter for the newspapers O Estado de São Paulo and O Globo. She is also co-founder of Abraji (Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism).
In her career, she has covered the most diverse conflicts in Haiti, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and the Palestinian territories, among many others. Adriana focuses on the themes of human rights and religion, with a distinctive look at the issue of women.
In 2016, she was considered one of the ten most admired Brazilian journalists, following her history of receiving numerous awards and important honors, such as the Press Women’s Trophy and the Líbero Badaró Journalism Award. She is also the author of three famous and renowned books, two about the conflicts she witnessed and the third about Malala’s fight.
Just like the ones mentioned, every day there are hundreds of other brave and strong journalists who risk themselves to show the world a reality that is painful and unknown for most of us. But, they are still immersed in a male-dominated occupation, and they end up not receiving the appreciation and recognition they deserve. That’s why it’s important to take a moment in months like these to get to know and recognize the magnificent work of such amazing women.
The article above was edited by Larissa Mariano.
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