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Najiba Ayubi, 45, managing director for The Killid Group in Afghanistan. Ayubi has spent more than a decade working under anonymous threats and attacks from government entities for her reporting on politics and women’s rights. She leads a team of reporters working in print, broadcast and online media and has refused calls for censorship.

Ayubi, 45, director of The Killid Group in Afghanistan. For more than two decades, Ayubi has been a leading independent voice in Afghan media. Since 2004, she has regularly received threatening phone calls and letters. Threats are always tied to her critical reporting and her refusal, as director of a news organization, to censor the stories that are published and broadcast on her watch. Ayubi has faced direct threats from many sources – politicians have sent gunmen to her home, anonymous aggressors have vowed to harm her family, and she has been publicly defamed. In each case, she has faced her attackers and has rejected calls to limit her work. Ayubi co-founded the Afghan Independent Media Consortium and the Freedom of Expression Initiative, both with the intention of providing resources and support for independent journalists in her country.

Nour Kelze, 25, photojournalist for Reuters in Syria. Kelze occupies the front lines of the conflict in her country, working to document the human cost of the Syrian revolution. She has been shot at countless times, hospitalized twice for wounds sustained while photographing, and targeted in pro-Assad propaganda.

Kelze, 25, photojournalist for Reuters in Syria. Kelze has been working as a photojournalist and stringer since 2012 – when she was discovered taking pictures of revolutionary fighters on her cell phone by a well-known war photographer. Kelze, who was a school teacher prior to the war, was willing to do a job that few Syrian journalists – and even fewer women – have been willing to do. Since then, Kelze has been on the front lines of the Syrian revolution, recording the human cost of Syria’s fight for democracy. Kelze has been targeted in pro-regime propaganda and has received threats via social media. In February 2013, Kelze’s ankle was broken when a wall fell on her as she retreated from sniper fire…four days after surgery to repair the break, she was back to work in a cast. Now, Kelze plans to set up a media center in Aleppo. Her vision is to provide training and support for Syrian and international journalists, with a focus on women.

Bopha Phorn, 28, reporter for The Cambodia Daily in Cambodia. Phorn’s reporting on environmental exploitation nearly got her killed in October 2012, when her car came under heavy fire during a reporting trip in the Cambodian jungle. Her coverage of crime, land rights abuses and human rights issues have led to ongoing threats.

Phorn, 29, reporter for The Cambodia Daily in Cambodia. In October 2012, Phorn narrowly escaped with her life when the vehicle in which she was traveling came under heavy fire. Phorn was investigating claims of illegal logging in a protected area of the Cambodian jungle with another journalist and an environmental activist when gunmen with AK-47s sprayed the car with shots. The activist, Chut Wutty, was killed. Phorn’s reporting on land and environmental issues, as well as her stories about criminal activity and human rights abuses, have made her the target of other life-threatening attacks. In spite of the danger that she has confronted, Phorn is committed to journalism and has taken up some of the most controversial stories of her day.

The IWMF Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Edna Machirori, the first black female newspaper editor in Zimbabwe. As a woman journalist in post-colonial Zimbabwe, Machirori rose through the ranks of several newspapers, including The Chronicle and The Financial Gazette, in spite of a deeply patriarchal culture. Now, Machirori continues to write about development, corruption and social issues for The Daily News, among other publications.

Machirori, freelance journalist and columnist for The Daily News in Zimbabwe. As one of the first women in Zimbabwean media and as the first black female editor of a newspaper in Zimbabwe, Machirori represented unprecedented achievement for women finding their place in a post-colonial landscape. She has acted as a mentor to other women throughout her career and has faced down critics of her incisive reporting. Machirori started her work in journalism in 1963 as a cadet reporter for the African Daily News, a nationalist newspaper based in Harare (then Salisbury, under colonial rule), after sending the paper “letters to the editor” while she was in high school. During her early years with the African Daily News, Machirori was the only woman on the staff at any level. Later, she occupied editing positions at The Chronicle and The Financial Gazette. In 1988, when Machirori was leading the news team as news editor, The Chronicle published “The Willowgate Scandal”, an investigation into corruption among high-level members of ruling party ZANU-PF. Today, Machirori freelances for several publications in her country. She has been publicly criticized by ZANU-PF officials for her writing on politics. But she continues, working to challenge the official line on important issues. Machirori sits on the Board of the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) and the jury of the Federation of African Media Women in Zimbabwe (FAMWZ).

The Courage in Journalism Awards and Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented at ceremonies in New York on October 23rd and in Los Angeles on October 29th. Bank of America is National Presenting Sponsor of the events.

About the IWMF and the Awards

Founded in 1990, the IWMF believes the news media world-wide are not truly free and representative without the equal voice of women.  We celebrate the courage of women journalists who overcome threats and oppression to speak out on global issues. Our programs empower women journalists with the training, support and network to become leaders in the news industry.

The IWMF Courage in Journalism Awards honor women journalists who have shown extraordinary strength of character and integrity while reporting the news under dangerous or difficult circumstances. The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes a woman journalist who has a pioneering spirit and whose determination has paved the way for women in the news media. Including this year’s award winners, 78 journalists have received Courage Awards and 22 journalists have won Lifetime Achievement Awards