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Seminar of 

Women’s Voices Without Borders

for women journalists in Iraq and Syria

 12th and 13th December 2021 

(on site in Erbil and online on Zoom - English, Arabic and Kurdish)


Promoting Gender Equality through Women Journalists

Within the framework of the AHJ project, Women’s Voices Without Borders, promoting human rights and gender equality through journalism in conflict zones, we are pleased to organize the WVWB workshop for women journalists in Iraq and Syrian women in exile, with the support of the French Embassy in Baghdad, UNFPA Iraq, UNHCR Iraq, Amnesty International France, Framing, Photojournalism School and Raja-Daniele Marcovici Foundation. 


The seminar is an initiative of AHJ, The Humanitarian Aid and Journalism non-profit organisation, which was launched in France to provide victims of war and discrimination, especially women in conflict zones or those exiled to France and elsewhere, with the opportunity to learn journalism and arts, making their voices heard.


Women's Voices Without Borders, WVWB initiative furthers the work AHJ has already engaged since it was launched, supporting women from the Middle East and Africa to train in the techniques and legal framework of journalism, including cybersecurity and leadership, with the support of the French and Italian Governments (specifically the Italian News Agency ANSA and the French Agency CFI for media development), as well as the support of the United Nations.


The project WVWB was launched on 1st June 2021 by strong feminine voices from Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, Egypt, Iran, Iraqi Kurdistan, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Tunisia and with the participation of 122 connected actors across 33 countries, as well as the international NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Crisis and Support Centre of the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs. 

Since the launch of WVWB in June, AHJ conducted virtual interviews with female journalists and gender equality activists in the targeted countries, particularly in Iraq and Syria, from July to October 2021.


Female journalists in Iraq and Syrian Journalists forced into exile are vital agents of democratic change in their societies. Their tenacity and courage are unique in their countries, as they choose to continue to provide information despite the insecurity and the instability for their family and professional environment.


WVWB for women journalists in Iraq and Syrian women in exile, will be an opportunity, with the preparatory actions of the network, to report and to exchange during workshops sessions. 30 women journalists will be invited to speak and make their voices heard, exchanging their points of view, addressing the real situation of female journalists and activists in their countries and testifying to the daily discriminations they face during their work.


Thanks to their reports and their true voices, they enable us to understand more about the situation of women fighting for their rights and for Gender Equality through their media productions and at a time when the issue of women is so difficult to evoke in these countries where they are all too often removed from the public scene.


With the participation, during these moments of exchange, of local and international activists who work for Gender Equality and Human Rights, they will be invited to analyse the situation of female journalists and produce joint recommendations, developing mutual assistance for experienced professionals as well as young talents, and responding to the urgent needs on the ground.


Finally, this workshop will enable us to prepare our project Women’s Voices without Borders in terms of training opportunities, protection of women journalists and their media productions, as well as identifying potential beneficiaries.

Programme of the Workshops

Women’s Voices Without Borders for Iraq and Syria

12th and 13th December 2021 (In Erbil and on Zoom (English, Arabic & Kurdish)

Promoting Gender Equality through Journalism



12th December 2021

Iraq and Syria local time

09:30 - 10:00 - Welcome


10:00 - 10:30  

 General moderator: Shayda Hessami, Founder and CEO of AHJ's organisation

Opening speeches:

  AHJ Organisation France, Angie Cotte, President of AHJ organisation (online from France)

French Embassy in Iraq, SE, Eric Chevallier, Ambassador of France in Iraq (online from Baghdad)

UNFPA Iraq, Lionel Laforgue, Gender and Human Rights Programme Coordinator (onsite Erbil)

Firas Al khateeb, Spokesperson UNHCR Iraq (onsite Erbil)

Sophie Pouget, General Director of RAJA-Danièle Marcovici Foundation (online from France)


10:30 - 13:00

Session 1: Voices of women journalists in Iraq

In Iraq, journalists risk their lives everyday when covering the demonstrations or when they investigate corruption or when they talk about equality between women and men. They have to work under an alias name to be protected from aggression and violence just because they were doing their job. Some of them are even excluded from their own families, and abandoned by their husbands.

The first session echoes the voices of female journalists from all over Iraq. They are activists in Human Rights  and gender equality. Through their reports of the situation, we will get to know the reality of female journalists in media and in public spaces. The difficulties and the challenges they faced. Through the voices of 18 journalists and experts in media and gender, we will analyze their situation and theirs needs in terms of education, protection and networking to prepare the first draft of the WVWB project for Iraq.


Shayda Hessami, Founder and CEO of AHJ organisation

Reporters:  (Arabic speakers)

1st group 

Sara Jassim, Journalist from Baghdad 

Zahra Salim, Journalist from Mosul

Rosol Zahir, Journalist from Anbar

Sheno Aldawoudi, Journalist from Kirkuk

Q/A (10min)

2nd group

Hiba Majid, Journalist from Karbala

Manar Alzoubaidi, Journalist from Diwaniyah

Nagham Alager, Journalist from Basra

Hanin Ali, Young Journalist from Nassiriyah

Q/A (10min)



Analysis by Khuloud Alamri - Journalist and CEO of Empower Women in the Media EWM NGO - Member of the VFSF network (On site-Erbil) 



Reporters: (Kurdish speakers)

3rd group

Khanda Murad: Journaliste  from Erbil

Galan Jabbar: Journaliste  from Choman

Rangeen Salam: Journaliste from Halabja

Hawraz Ahmed: Journaliste from Soulaimaniyah

Q/A (10min)



4th group

Sharmin Ali - Journaliste - Garmmyan

Amira Goran: Journaliste - Barda Rash

Shelan Idris: Journaliste - Zakho

Delvin Rashid: Journaliste - Duhok - Khanke

Q/A (10min)


Analysis by Niyaz Abdulla, Journalist - AHJ's Expert and Member of the WVWB Network (Online from Jordan) 


12:55 - 13:00

Closing of the first session


13:00 - 14:30 Lunch time


14:30 - 16:30 

2nd Session: Voices of Syrian women journalists

Since 2011, Syria has been facing a military conflict and a civil war. According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, approximately 117 338 civilians including more than 22,000 children lost their lives since the beginning of the war in Syria and a minimum of 700 professional and non-professional journalists have died while covering the bombings or were assassinated by the different parties in the conflict. Half of the population has been displaced during the conflict, and five to six million Syrians, a quarter of a population, have escaped the country. Committed women journalists, some of them forced into exile, are particularly targeted by different forms of violence.


This second session echoes the voices of female Syrian journalists living inside the country and whose are forced into exile. Some of them are activists in Human Rights and Gender equality or students in host countries. What are their challenges, theirs struggles, and the danger they face in professional and social environments? 

Through the voices of 11 journalists and experts in media and gender, we will analyze their situation and theirs needs in terms of education, protection and networking to prepare the first draft of the WVWB project for Syria.

Opening Speech by:

 Jean Nicholas Beuze, the  representative of UNHCR in Iraq


Banar Hushiar

Journalist, AHJ's representative- Iraq, WVWB's Member




Evin Youssif

 Journalist, Head of the Union of Free Media in North and East Syria

(Online from Syria)


Rula Assad

 Journalist,  Founder and CEO of the Syrian Female Journalists Network

(Online from Europe)


Salwa Sulaiman

 Journalist, President of the Syrian Kurdish Journalist Network

(Online from Europe)


Aria Haji

 Media, advocacy and Communication officer of NEXTEP organisation

(Online from Syria)

Raghad Almotlak

 Journalist, Correspondants Manager of SyriaPost Website

(Online from Syria)

Maria Hanna

 Journalist, Manager of SUROYO FM

(Online from Syria)

Ranjin Shero

 Journalist, Manager of reporters, Rudaw Media Network

Samya Lawand

 Journalist, Reporter for StepNews

Shahnaz Hindi

 Journalist, Director of Mivan Radio for refugees in Domiz camp

Analysis by: Edith Bouvier

 Journalist and war reporter, AHJ's experts committee member, WVWB's member

16:30 - 17:00 Coffee break 

17:00 - 19:00 

Session 3: The importance of reinforcing the capacities of female journalists through education, protection and networking


It is necessary today to equip women journalists to undertake investigative work and reveal the reality behind the painful fate of women, the first victims of wars, who are silenced. Strengthening the capacities of women journalists not only in investigative techniques, but also in the production's techniques of media contents, should be an important line of action when it comes to Journalism education in Universities and at the level of Civil Society organisations which advocate for Women's Rights.


The Safety of female journalists is a major concern for the network Women’s Voices Without Borders. It is urgent to protect them (and to protect their sources) when doing their work, to provide them with a safe and secure space on the internet where they can publish their media contents, to assert their intellectual property rights and to secure their communication networks.


At the same time, female journalists and activists want to talk to their counterparts in other countries, who are facing the same danger and challenges, in order for them to help each other. A circle of confidence can be forged between these women when their digital tools are secure, when they are trained to protect their security, and when the legal framework, particularly in France, is made available to them to protect their online content from possible censorship or sanctions. By strengthening their ties, female journalists can organize more powerful advocacy.


Angie Cotte, President of AHJ organisation



Azheen Mustafa

 CFI country coordinator - Iraq (Onsite Erbil)

Hanen Zbiss

 Journalist, AHJ's Expert, WVWB's Member (online from Tunis)

Niyaz Abdulla

Journalist - AHJ's Expert and Member of the WVWB Network

(Online from Jordan)

Edith Bouvier

 Journalist, War Reporter, AHJ's Expert, WVWB's Member

(online from France)

Diana Moukalled

 Chief Editor of Daraj Media, WVWB's Member 

(Online from Lebanon)

Selin Uysal

Political and Stabilization Advisor, in charge of Gender Equality Issues

 French Embassy Baghdad (Online from Baghdad)

Sabrina Bennoui

 Head of Middle East Desk, Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

(Online from France)

Khulood Alamiry

 Chairwoman of EWM organisation, WVWB's Member 

(onsite Erbil)

Dr. Nadia Al Sakkaf

 Yemen's first female minister of information, Media and Gender studies expert, AHJ's expert, WVWB's member

(online from UK)


13 December 2021

9:00 - 11:30 - WVWB Podcasts Recording

11:30-13:00 - Conclusion and Recommendations 

In this session, we will gather the reports prepared by the participating journalists and the analysis on the situation of women journalists in Iraq and Syria to produce the first draft of Women Voices Without Borders project based on their needs in terms of education, protection and networking. With the participation of AHJ's board of directors and experts and with the presence of : 

Olivier Decottignies, General French Consul of France in Erbil, Lionel Laforgue, Gender and Human Rights Programme Coordinator in UNFPA Iraq, Firas Al Khateeb, Spokesperson of UNHCR Iraq and Sylvie Brigot, General Director of Amnesty International France.

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