Friday, May 22, 2015

Farida Nekzad

Co-founder and former editor of the Pajhwok Afghan News agency, Farida Nekzad has spent the past 12 years being threatened by media freedom’s enemies, who have repeatedly tried to kidnap or kill her. While investigating female journalist Zakia Zaki’s murder in 2007, she received phone calls and emails promising her the same fate. They just reinforced her determination to defend freedom of information and women’s rights.

She launched the Wakht News Agency in 2008 and still runs it, employing women journalists to cover a range of issues including women’s rights. Despite financial difficulties, the agency has a network of correspondents throughout Afghanistan and continues to be one the country’s leading independent news outlets.

In 2014, Nekzad was put in charge of the Independent Election Commission’s media commission, with the job of monitoring media impartiality during the presidential election campaign. Despite a climate of extreme tension, she spent several months investigating media violations of the electoral rules and complaints from the public about election coverage.

The winner of many international prizes including the Courage in Journalism Award from the International Women’s Media Foundation, Nekzad continues to spearhead the fight for women’s rights in Afghanistan and to campaign for the overhaul of media legislation with the aim of getting more protection for journalists in their often dangerous work.

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