By WAN-IFRA Women in News Team

The event comes against the backdrop of the war in Gaza and underscored the urgent need to address the challenges faced by journalists, particularly women, as the pursuit of truth takes them to the frontlines of danger to bring critical stories to light. War reporting plays a crucial role in shaping public understanding and policy responses to conflict.

Leaders of more than 100 news organisations around the world, including the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, Reuters and many news organisations and press syndicates across the Arab Region have joined an open letter affirming that they “stand united with Palestinian journalists in their call for safety, protection, and the freedom to report.”

The letter, coordinated by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) with the support of the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), emphasises the perilous environment for members of the press covering the Israel-Gaza war. 

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, as of 7 March, at least 95 journalists have been killed since the October 2023 start of the Israel-Gaza war. This war has been termed the deadliest conflict for journalists ever documented.

These numbers underscore the inherent dangers faced by journalists, particularly in conflict zones where the line between reporting and personal safety is blurred. For women journalists, these risks are further compounded by gender-based threats, including harassment, assault and intimidation. The precarious nature of their work often forces them to navigate a complex landscape of physical, emotional and digital threats.

Despite these challenges, women continue to courageously navigate the treacherous terrain of war reporting, determined to shed light on the realities of conflict and its impact on communities. 

Amid the chaos of conflict, however, the voices and perspectives of women journalists have been marginalised or overlooked. Studies have shown that women represent a small fraction of journalists reporting from conflict zones, highlighting a glaring disparity in representation. This lack of diversity not only perpetuates gender biases, but also diminishes the richness and complexity of the stories being told. Further, WAN-IFRA’s Women in News research on gender representation in the media found that women are on average quoted one in four times, despite making up about 50 per cent of the population. 

As an initiative committed to advancing gender equality in the media, WIN recognises the urgency of addressing this disparity in war reporting, especially as the devastating Gaza war continues to take a heavy toll on civilians.

Shuruq As’ad, a journalist and the WIN country coordinator for Palestine, notes that addressing this imbalance, particularly in Gaza, requires a concerted effort from the global media industry.

“There needs to be sustained pressure to save the lives of my colleagues and give them the right and freedom to be journalists,” she said. 

“My colleagues across the West Bank face many challenges, but the risks are higher in Gaza. The biggest challenge is staying alive. The second is, because we aren’t protected, there is no safe place. The threat of death is present every day. Journalists in this region, and across the world, need to be able to report freely in line with international laws.”

Melanie Walker, the Executive Director of Media Development and Women in News for WAN-IFRA, emphasised the importance of elevating women’s voices in war reporting.

“Women journalists bring unique perspectives and insights to the coverage of conflicts. Their presence is essential for a more comprehensive understanding of the situation. To truly reflect the diverse realities of conflict, we must actively work to amplify their voices,” she said. “By fostering an environment of safety, support and inclusion, we can pave the way for more equitable and representative war reporting.”

The empowerment of women journalists is fundamental to the advancement of press freedom and democracy.

The post Declaration of solidarity: Women journalists step into the spotlight in the Gaza war appeared first on WAN-IFRA.