Afghan journalist Farida Nekzad was honored by the International Women’s Media Foundation with a Courage in Journalism Award for her support of women’s rights and freedom of the press in Afghanistan. As the managing editor and deputy director of Pajhwok Afghan News, the leading independent news agency in Afghanistan, Nekzad has fought to increase opportunities for women in journalism. “I am working for women to play a role in society and am driven by being a role model for women so they can be encouraged to play an important role and not be silenced, which is not an easy task,” said Nekzad when receiving her award.
“For the last year, the situation is worse for women. There are no rights for women and they don’t like women to be journalists,” she said. Nekzad frequently changes cars while traveling to work and sleeps in different rooms of her house because she fears an attack. Despite repeated death threats and harassment, Nekzad has continued to report on the deteriorating security for women in Afghanistan and on the influence of Afghan warlords.
In a letter to Afghan President Karzai, Reporters Without Borders noted a steady increase in abductions, attacks, death threats and forced resignations by Afghan journalists within the last year. Nekzad encouraged continued pressure from the international community on Afghanistan’s government. “This is a man’s country and I want to defend women’s rights. I’m frightened but I continue in my job and my life.”