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12 extraordinary stories of women remodelling their role in society

Awareness about gender equality is now more universal and familiar than ever before. Yet much of the media coverage of the fight for gender balance often focuses on the struggles and challenges women face, and not the opportunities arising from them.

Against this backdrop, 12 projects recently awarded in the last round of the Innovation in Development Reporting Grant will tell empowering and under-reported stories of how women are transforming their contribution to society around the globe: be it by thriving at their jobs, fighting deep-rooted traditions or turning their disabilities into skills.

Project: Food4— Winner of IDR grant 2015. Photo Credit: Giada Connestar

These are the winning projects:

Project name: Wonder Women: Female Peacekeepers Fighting to Fix a Broken System
Team: Jorgen Samso (lead) & Benedict Moran
Description: This project examines the challenges of achieving greater gender balance in global peacekeeping operations, and the unique opportunities female peacekeepers provide as role models and soldiers, told through the stories of female peacekeepers deployed in the DR Congo.
Project locations: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Media outlets: Arte (FR/DE), Radio France International (FR), Der Spiegel (DE), Euronews (INT), IRIN (INT), Everyday Africa (INT)
Budget: €19,880.00


Project name: African women scientists on the move
Team: Michele Catanzaro (lead)& Marco Boscolo
Description: This project explores how the mobility of African women scientists feeds back into Africa’s development.
Project locations: Uganda, Kenya, Germany, UK, Spain, Italy
Media outlets: Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE), SciDevNet (INT), New Internationalist (UK), AfriSciTech (FR), El Periódico (ESP), Radio 3 Rai Scienza (IT)
Budget: €19,500.000


Project name: Abortion Access in Crisis and Conflict Zones
Team: Jill Filipovic & Nichole Sobecki
Description: This project explores how barriers to abortion for rape survivors in crisis and conflict constrain women’s opportunities and magnify their suffering.
Project locations: Bangladesh, Colombia, Nigeria
Media outlets: New St atesman (UK), Paris Match (FR)
Budget: €20.000,00


Project name: Indonesian Women: rising from oppression
Team: Sadika Hamid (lead), Rina Widiastuti, Amanda Siddharta, Isma Savit
: In this project, we follow seven incredible women who are leading movements to help women fight for their rights in different fields.
Project locations:
Jakarta, Central Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Sulawesi, Papua & Maluku
Media outlets
: L’Obs (FR), Trinity Mirror (UK), de Volkskrant (NL), Zeit online (DE)
: €20.100,00


Project name: Bolly Lolly Dhally: Women in South Asian film
Team: Sophie Hemery (lead), Alice McCool, Gayeti Singh Sarker Protick, Tazeen Bari
Description: This project will explore women’s opportunities and struggles in the South Asian film industries: innovating opportunities, demanding good working conditions, calling out sexual abuse, and changing perceptions through plotlines.
Project locations: Bangladesh, India, Pakistan
Media outlets: VICE UK (UK), CNN UK (UK), Thomson Reuters Foundation (UK), The Citizen (India), Little White Lies (UK), BBC Urdu (Pakistan)
Budget: €25.252,00


Project name: Angels
Team: Jane Labous (lead) & Angela Robson
Description: This project shows how West African campaigners and doctors are determined to shatter taboos around infertility, offering women opportunities for treatment and support.
Project locations: Dakar, Senegal and The Gambia, possibly with interviewees from Cameroon
Media outlets: Geographical (UK), BBC Radio 4 From Our Own Correspondent (UK), Pennine Productions (BBC World Service) & BBC Online (UK)
Budget: €19,000.00


Project name: Shaping a new narrative: how artisanal mining has become the unexpected driver of Congolese women’s emancipation.
Team: Eleonora Vio (lead) & Ines Della Valle
Description: This project examines how women are challenging the discriminatory practices enclosed within the artisanal mining sector, by self-organizing and, ultimately, by assuming leading positions within their communities.
Project locations: Kasai, North Kivu, South Kivu and Manono provinces.
Media outlets: Geographical (UK), (CH), Internazionale (IT), Il Venerdì di Repubblica (IT), Parralellozero (IT)
Budget: €20.770,00


Project name: For the love of land
Team: Marta Martinez-Martinez (lead) & Carmen Vidal-Balanzat
Description: This project will portray how women are able to smartly subvert the norms that traditionally oppressed them to fight for their own advancement and economic independence. It will also shake up the stereotypes of what marriage is, according to the Western tradition.
Project locations: Nyamongo, northern Tanzania, and neighboring villages within the Mara region.
Media outlets: France 24 (FR), AJ+ (QA), Broadly UK (UK), Revista 5W (ESP), Le Monde (FR)
Budget: €18,196.00


Project name: A Light in Darkness
Team: Elena del Estal (lead) & Victor Martin
Description: This project aims to show real examples of visual impaired women around the world turning a disability into an extraordinary skill through music, education, empowerment and medical care.
Project locations: India, Ethiopia, Colombia and Egypt
Media outlets: Der Spiegel (DE), Deutsche Welle (DE), Cadena Ser (ESP), Revista 5W (ESP), El Confidencial (ESP)
Budget: €20,000.00


Project name: Education in Transition
Team: Vanessa de Sá (lead), Toni Pires & Rica Ramos
Description: This project aims to show how trans women educators want to not only make school and society a more inclusive place, but help to reshape the education system, give trans individuals qualifications to compete in the job market and political tools to advance the debate on transgender people’s rights.
Project locations: Brazil, Argentina, Colombia
Media outlets: Global Voices (INT), Folha de S. Paulo (Brazil)
Budget: €19.937,50


Project name: Birthright: Tackling the Fatal Cost of Motherhood
Team: Emma Bryce (lead), Wana Udobang
Description: This project explores how women experience the risks of birth in three different countries, and how the opportunities arising from female-driven efforts in civil society, policy, and science are bringing about progress that’s saving mothers’ lives.
Project locations: Nigeria, Uganda, Pakistan
Media outlets: Wired Magazine UK (UK), Al Jazeera English (INT)
Budget: €19.765.00


Project name: Not yet satisfied: Africa’s young women fighting for a sex-positive future
Team: Eliza Anyangwe (lead) & Adeyemi Michael
Description: A multimedia reporting project that casts a spotlight on the pioneering young African women who are pushing back against bad policy and patriarchy, demanding bodily autonomy, and using digital technology to redefine sexual and reproductive health and re-educate their peers.
Project locations: Accra, Johannesburg and Nairobi
Media outlets: Channel 4 (UK), The Nzinga Effect (INT)
Budget: €20,314.00

For more information on the aforementioned projects, please read our blogpost on EJC Medium.

The Innovation in Development Reporting Reporting Grant is a media-funding programme operated by the European Journalism Centre that aims to enable an out-of-the-box coverage of international development issues. It is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Further reading

To stay up-to-date about the Journalism Grants activities and other EJC initiatives, sign up for one of our newsletters or read the articles shown below

How to write stories on development that people actually want to read

Cross-border journalism: The successful example of a German-Indian collaboration

Some common mistakes when applying for a journalism grant — and how to avoid them


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Cover photo : Project: Dangerous Abortion - Winner of IDR grant 2017. Photo Credit: Tara Todras-Whitehill/European Journalism Centre/Pola

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