AHJ is an association registered under French law (1901), founded in 2017 and registered in the Kurdistan region of Iraq since 2019. It allows the people in the conflict zones, especially women, to train in journalism and creativity to assert their rights to freedom of expression, information and education. AHJ acts within an apolitical and secular framework and is open to all ethnic groups and minorities. AHJ has an Ethical Charter and a Committee of Experts in Journalism and Art.
For the coming years our actions will be primarily aimed at women journalists and activists in conflict zones; those already in the field and those who are active but not sufficiently protected and trained.
AHJ has expertise, having developed a programme for the emancipation of Yezidi women displaced from Sinjar and survivors of the abuses of IS. AHJ used the techniques of journalism to allow these young women to regain confidence and tell their own story. During the training sessions, we produced media content as well as an international appeal from Yezidi women transformed from "victims" into "voices". AHJ's support methodology produced concrete results. Beneficiaries became journalism students or investigative journalists and the success of this operation has been praised in Italy, Lithuania, England, Tunisia, the United States, Australia, Lebanon and France together with several partners including UNICEF, ANSA Agency, KRG and CFI.
Since 2019, AHJ has collaborated with CFI the French Agency for Media Development. CFI is a subsidiary of France Médias Monde as well as the Media Development Agency under the authority of the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affaires. This agency is in charge of coordinating and leading the French policy of Development Aid for Media in the world. The CFI agency works alongside media organizations, together with members of civil society, to promote pluralistic and democratic news and to support the objectives of sustainable development. AHJ and CFI work in partnership, for a project for Gender and the Media in Iraq and Yemen. This project, entitled Makanati (which means “my place” in Arabic), encourages greater participation of women in Iraqi and Yemeni societies. Makanati has just been launched on March 8, 2020 and will be implemented by CFI in partnership with AHJ from April 2020, thanks to FSPI (Solidarity Fund for Innovative Projects) funded by the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs.
Today, through the production and dissemination of media content concerning the place of women in societies, we hope to improve the understanding of their concerns by local populations. Our actions will aim to strengthen women journalists, civil society activists and future journalists to better understand their rights and the concepts and issues related to equality between women and men. This capacity building promotes their access to decision-making positions.
The vitality of AHJ derives from the expertise of its members, in particular its leaders Ms. Angie Cotte president of AHJ, expert in international project management, and Shayda Hessami, founder and general manager of AHJ, expert in media and gender. This expertise has been acquired over many years working in the context of activities supporting journalists, civil society actors, artists and cultural operators, residents or exiled in the countries of the Middle East in partnership with many public authorities (Ministries, local authorities, international organizations).
During assignments in the region, AHJ met with representatives of governments, national, local and regional media, and non-governmental and international organizations. In 2019, an analysis report from these consultative meetings allowed AHJ to better understand the place of women in the media. In December of the same year, AHJ and CFI brought together media and gender experts, activists and journalists from Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Tunisia and Jordan as well as international experts representing the agencies of the United Nations, UNDP and UNESCO, during a conference in Amman entitled "Women and Media in Conflict Zones ». This conference gave us the opportunity to discuss difficulties encountered by women in the media field in both Iraq and Yemen. AHJ was able to develop a two-year action plan as a result of this conference. This action plan will be implemented through research, training, production and advocacy.
Thanks to this diagnosis of the realities in the current context, AHJ is ready to propose a new project which aims to launch a network for women journalists in the MENA countries, piloted from our offices in France. This network is one of the recommendations from the December 2019 regional seminar and highlights the need for international solidarity between women.
See AHJ's programmes here: