Iraqi female journalists train at LAU
A group of Iraqi journalists received training in journalism and gender relations from media professionals and faculty at LAU Beirut.
The training participants with Dr. Yasmine Dabbous (1st from left), IMTR director; Dr. Samira Aghacy (5th from left), dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at LAU Beirut; Dr. Dima Dabbous-Sensenig (7th from left), IWSAW director; and Anita Nassar (4th from right), IWSAW assistant director.
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A weeklong media and gender training program for 10 Iraqi female journalists took place in mid-April at LAU Beirut.
The workshop, which was designed by LAU’s Institute for Media Training and Research and Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World, aimed to empower participants through intensive courses in journalism and gender relations.
IWSAW Assistant Director Anita Nassar moderated the event alongside Dr. Yasmine Dabbous, IMTR director. Nassar and Dabbous welcomed the guests on the opening day of the workshop.
Nassar described her institution’s mission of connecting female activists and women through gathering key information for NGOs. Field research thus forms an integral part of activism, she told workshop participants.
The opening speech of Dabbous focused on various advantages offered by the workshop.
“This training is an opportunity for journalists from Lebanon and Iraq to learn about each other’s cultures and work ethics,” she said. “They will share knowledge, experience and stories both as media professionals and as women working in a challenging field.”
The first two days of the training covered investigative journalism, interviewing skills, ethics, cultural journalism, new media, gender representation on television, and the general challenges faced by women in the profession.
During a friendly roundtable discussion, the Iraqi journalists, all based in the northern Iraqi city of Ninewa, discussed the heavy restrictions they face within the borders of a generally insecure zone.
Nithal Yousif Elea, a criminal law specialist who participated in the workshop, noted that females are often targeted by extremists, but insisted she would never work outside Iraq unless she could take part in her country’s struggle for democracy from abroad.
“I will serve my country as a journalist — from inside or outside Iraq,” Elea said.
The journalists had relocated from their initial residence in Mosul after receiving numerous death threats. Dozens of female journalists have been assassinated in Mosul.
“They live in dramatic, extreme conditions. It’s like a constant state of war, only worse — it’s terror,” Dabbous said.
Adding that the situation of guest journalists in Iraq can be “unbearable,” Dabbous expressed her hopes for a swift transition to freedom.
“The journalists have come to us looking for solutions to their problems. All we can do is hope that things will change over time as transition is never easy,” she continued.
Dabbous however was delighted to see the Iraqi journalists enjoying a learning experience away from the harsh conditions they live in.
“They discuss, absorb, share their problems, and ponder solutions,” Dabbous said. “Perhaps most importantly, they’re enjoying their time away from the frontlines. This is an opportunity to reflect.”
The program included trips to An-Nahar, Murr TV, Laha Magazine, as well as some touristic sites.
Diana Mukalled and Sobhiyya Najjar of Future News, Gisele Khoury and Alia Ibrahim of Al-Arabiya, Denise Rahme Fakhry and Claude Abi Nader Hindi of Murr TV, Rana Najjar of Al Hayat, and Iman Chamas of the National News Agency all featured in the workshop.
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