Announcing the Trust Women Awards Finalists

by Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 20 November 2013 11:26 GMT

In September, we asked you to nominate women’s rights leaders for the 2013 Trust Women Awards.

We’ve received 170 nominations from more than 140 countries highlighting the work of incredible journalists and people who have contributed to the advancement of women’s rights worldwide showing courage, creativity and innovation.

Thanks to your suggestions, we have been able to shortlist 16 exceptional individuals, the frontrunners for this year’s Trust Women Hero Award and Trust Women Journalist Award. Winners will be selected by the Trust Women Advisory Board, and will be awarded during an evening ceremony taking place at the Trust Women conference on December 3 in London. Winners will also receive a cash prize of $5,000 each as an encouragement to continue their work and mission.

The finalists for the Trust Women Hero Award, celebrating an innovator whose bold thinking and high-impact work has helped women defend and advance their rights, are below.

Nazma Akter – President, Aware Women’s Action for Justice Foundation; President, Combined Garment Workers Federation

Nazma Akter has been campaigning for the rights of women workers in Bangladesh for 27 years. She started working in a clothes factory when she was 11 alongside her mother. Witnessing problems and abuses, she worked with several trade unions before establishing her own. The Sommilito Garments Sramik Federation, of which Akter is president, now has membership of over 60,000 thousand. She is also general secretary and executive director of the Awaj Foundation, an NGO helping thousands of women garment workers across Dhaka and Chittagong. Akter has also been a member of the minimum wage board since 2006.

Laura Bates – Founder of the Everyday Sexism Project

Laura Bates founded the award-winning Everyday Sexism Project, an ever-increasing collection of over 50,000 women's experiences of gender imbalance that hail from women of all backgrounds. The project – now in 17 countries – has been used to improve education policies, initiatives for tackling sexual offences and government media equality guidelines. Bates is a regular contributor to the Guardian, the Independent, Grazia, and Red Magazine and has contributed to several other media outlets. She is a contributor to Women Under Siege, a New York-based organisation working against the use of rape as a tool of war in conflict zones worldwide.

Franz Gastler – Founder and Executive Director, Yuwa

Franz Gastler is the Founder and Executive Director of Yuwa, a football programme in Jharkhand, India. Jharkhand leads the country in child marriages and human trafficking and is the second worst in girls’ literacy. Yuwa uses football as a mechanism to empower girls, increase school attendance and combat child marriage and human trafficking. Through Yuwa, Franz brings girls out of isolation and gives them a forum for self-expression, making their parents and community aware of their rights and value.

Anu George Canjanathoppil – Director of Google Interventions Project for the International Justice Mission; Founder, WeCe; Suave Fellow 2010-2011

Anu George Canjanathoppil is Director of the International Justice Mission’s Google Interventions Project in India. Her team trains officials and partner organizations on techniques to identify and document cases of forced labour, and then works in partnership with government and police to rescue the victims and provide rehabilitation for them. In her first year, Canjanathoppil led her team and partners in rescuing thousands of slaves. Prior to that, Canjanathoppil founded WeCe, an organization that works to empower women subject to violence and educate children through theatre as a medium.

Anuradha Koirala – Founder, Maiti Nepal

Anuradha Koirala founded Maiti Nepal to combat human trafficking through a holistic approach that attacks the whole chain. Koirala leads Maiti Nepal in apprehending traffickers, providing free legal, medical and psychological support to victims, running community awareness campaigns, rescue operations, border checks and women empowerment programmes. Her impact is been immense, having freed over 22,000 girls from brothels and convicted 868 traffickers.

Julienne Lusenge – President of the Board, Women’s Solidarity for Peace and Integrated Development (SOFEPADI); Director, Congolese Women’s Fund (FCC)

Julienne Lusenge has campaigned tirelessly for the rights of women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for almost 30 years. Lunsenge’s organization SOFEPADI brings victims of sexual violence the medical, psycho social, economic and legal support they need in order to recover, reintegrate into communities and prosecute their perpetrators despite the opaque legal system. She created the Congolese Women’s Fund to mobilize resources to grassroots women’s organizations and she is special advisor to the Nobel Women’s Initiative STOP RAPE campaign, leading its implementation in her country.

Alaa Murabit – Founder and President of The Voice of Libyan Women

Alaa Murabit founded the Voice of Libyan Women after Qaddafi fell from power in order to train women to participate in the government and ensure that women’s rights are incorporated into the constitution. Dr. Murabit uses creative, culturally-sensitive methods to advocate against gender violence and her latest media and educational project, ‘Noor: Shedding Light on Women’s Security Concerns in Libya’, highlights women’s security concerns and helps clarify the cultural misunderstanding and misinterpretation of Islam in Libyan Society. It is the first women’s rights campaign to get approval and support from both the Libyan government and the Libyan religious institution, Dar al Ifta.

Maysoun Odeh Gangat – Executive Director of Radio Nisaa FM

Maysoun Odeh Gangat created the first women radio station in Palestine, by women and for women, providing entertainment and music, headline local/regional and international news, and most importantly, talk shows hosted by women dealing with issues that concern women. Her systematic and inspiration approach to women’s issues has been shown to change the perception of Arab women amongst themselves and within society.

Mariana Petersel – President of Association Generatie Tanara Romania and Director of Not For Sale Romania

Mariana Petersel has been working at the forefront of the anti-trafficking movement in Eastern Europe since the early 1995s, when she pioneered individualized service provision to trafficking victims. Petersel fashioned a system which goes beyond provision of immediate aftercare services to include counseling, shelter, healthcare, legal services, life-skills training, education and employment. As International Social Services representative for Romania, all Eastern European trafficking victims found anywhere in the world are referred to Petersel for repatriation. Since 2008 Mariana Petersel also leads her team as the Implementing Partner of UNHCR for the Emergency Transit Center in Romania for evacuated refugees.

Li Ying – Executive Director, Beijing Zhongze Women’s Legal Consulting Services Center; Executive Director, Anti-Domestic Violence Network (ADVN)

Li Ying is a famous lawyer in Beijing working for women’s rights, taking on nearly 200 women’s rights cases ranging from land rights to workplace discrimination and domestic violence. As a public interest lawyer, she provides these legal services to women for free. Li Ying also leads the Anti-Domestic Violence Network, the first and only multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral alliance focusing on domestic violence against women in China. It does research, advocacy, training, awareness building and legal reform in order to change social consciousness and enhance organizational capacity and support for battered women.

*The Trust Women Hero Award is sponsored by SCA.


 The finalists for the Trust Women Journalist Award, recognizing a journalist who has made a significant contribution to the coverage of women’s rights, are:

Helen Benedict – Journalist, Novelist and Professor at the Columbia Journalism School

Helen Benedict is a novelist and journalist specializing in social injustice, war, racism, sexism and trauma. In 2007 she broke the story about the epidemic of sexual violence in the military, for which she won several awards. Her book, “The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq” brought about the 2011 class action suit against the U.S. Pentagon on behalf of military women who were sexually assaulted while serving, and inspired the Oscar-nominated documentary, “The Invisible War.” Her novel, “Sand Queen” was one of the first to give voice to both Iraqis and women soldiers.

Leif Coorlim – Editorial Director and Senior Producer, CNN Freedom Project

Leif Coorlim is an expert on human trafficking and a skilled documentarian who helped launch and now directs and produces the CNN Freedom Project, a network-wide campaign featuring investigative journalism and documentaries that shine a light on the horrors of modern-day slavery and amplify the voices of both victims and the many dedicated workers fighting to end this global issue. Most recently, Coorlim wrote, produced and directed CNN’s feature-length film, “The Fighters”, which tells the story of the Philippines anti-trafficking movement by chronicling the work of activist Cecilia Flores-Oebanda, boxing legend Manny Pacquiao whom she recruited, and the anti-trafficking police.

Neha Dixit – Freelance Journalist 

Neha Dixit is an international award winning investigative journalist whose coverage of gender issues, development and conflict in South Asia is expansive. She contributed to the UNESCO Casebook of Investigative Journalism. Her expose' on rape, commercial sex exploitation, child marriage, female feticide and honour killings have made international impact and several of them have been used by the Supreme Court of India to bring significant change in policies and laws. Her reports on women's issues have invited several violent threats and attempts to intimidate. She has reported for several mediums including print, television and online. 

Phillip Martin – Senior Reporter, WGBH Radio News in Boston; Senior Fellow, Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism; Executive Producer, Lifted Veils Productions; Adjunct Professor at Brandeis University’s Heller School of Public Policy

Phillip Martin is an investigative reporter and radio journalist who travelled throughout the U.S. and Southeast Asia, tracking the modern slave trade and interviewing victims and activists. From his findings, Martin produced an award-winning eight-part investigative series titled “Underground Trade: From Boston to Bangkok”, looking at the sex trafficking trade route that goes from Southeast Asia to New York to New England, and putting human faces and stories to the abstract problem. Additionally, as Executive Producer for Lifted Veils Productions, he explores issues that divide and unite society, such as his “Color Initiative” that reports about the global impact of skin color.

Zubeida Mustafa – Freelance Journalist, Dawn

Zubeida Mustafa is the first woman to join the mainstream media  in  Pakistan at the senior editor's level as a leader writer. Throughout her 33 years working at Dawn, Mustafa wrote on topics others were afraid to cover and fought consistently for the rights and role of women in a field so strongly dictated and controlled by men. She advocated running stories with women’s voices in all newspaper sections instead of relegating them to a “women’s page.” Despite her official retirement in 2008, Mustafa remains a prolific writer, contributing weekly columns focusing on social issues, health and women.

Farzana Wahidy – Freelance Photojournalist

Farzna Wahidy has built an impressive body of photographic work chronicling the lives of women and girls in Afghanistan. In photos that are arresting in their beauty and the emotion they capture, Wahidy tells the story of how women are impacted by their country’s heritage of conflict and the constraining religious and traditional laws. In 2004 Wahidy became the first female Afghan photojournalist to work for an international wire service, Agence France-Presse. Now a freelancer, her work appears in media and exhibitions worldwide and she was chosen as one of the 100 most successful Afghan women in Afghanistan by MOBY Media group in 2012.

We will keep you posted. Watch this space. 

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.