Life is good! Since winning the Georgina Henry Award , I’ve experienced a whirlwind of change. This autumn, I joined the Wall Street Journal’s Moscow bureau as its senior correspondent. It’s exciting to be back on my old stomping ground, where I reported in the late 2000s. The contrast between then and now is astounding. I left the Russian capital swimming in impossible riches, where excess had become a way of life; the economic downturn has since humbled the city, making it considerably more liveable and engaging.
The success of Sahar Speaks, my programme for which I won the WIJ award, continues to exceed my wildest dreams. The multimedia stories of our 12 pioneer participants were published in June by The Huffington Post, marking the first time so many Afghan female journalists were featured in a global news outlet. Since then, our alumni have been invited to contribute to various foreign news organisations, including The New York Times, where Zahra Nader became the first Afghan woman to work for the mainstream media there. Their work has been re-published in other outlets, and are currently being translated into Spanish, amongst other languages. Our journalists have been asked to speak to female powerbrokers in Afghanistan, and some were selected to take part in an international journalism conference. The award allowed us to set up a private networking community for Afghan female journalists and their mentors, and helped us secure funding for a second round. I’m delighted to announce that during the upcoming winter in Kabul, we will hold visual storytelling workshops for 10 more Afghan female journalists. Their videos and photography will be published in international media, and screenings of their work will take place in Kabul and London. Sahar Speaks has also managed to create awareness. Despite 15 years of war and billions of dollars spent on trying to better the lives of Afghans, the reality for the country’s women has remained mysterious. There are certain stories that only Afghan women have access to and can unlock, and Sahar Speaks energetically and skilfully proved this. We have received press attention from around the world, and the number of women wishing to become mentors has rapidly expanded. I can’t wait to see where we go next.
Amie Ferris-Rotman won the Georgina Henry award in March 2016 for her project ‘Sahar speaks’, which aims to give a voice to female Afghan journalists. The GHA is kindly sponsored by media lawyers WIGGIN LLP