Female newswriters face terror, editors

When college students want to go to a different country to study abroad, they need nothing more than a passport. When a person from Tunisia, for example, wants to come to America, along with a green card, they need to obtain a “prestigious grant” from their country.

At least that is what Fatma Azzouz, assistant professor in the school of communication studies, had to do in order to come teach in the United States. Azzouz spoke about her experience yesterday during the Brown Bag Luncheon in the Women’s Center.

The “grant” she received is given to students in other countries who wish to come to America to teach. Azzouz made her way here by participating in the Global Vision Project. She is affiliated in the part which educates people about her country, Tunisia.

Azzouz’s chosen teaching topic is female journalists in Arab countries. There are many female journalists out there who are Arab, she said.

“I didn’t realize that the field of journalism is so important to women,” said Jessica Kwiatkowski, senior.

While a lot of the female journalists in the early years were unsuccessful because of discrimination issues, according to Azzouz there were a couple of success stories. A famous female journalist by the name of Amina Al Saied was “very lucky.” Saied had a total of 60 years in the field and was the first female professional Egyptian journalist, Azzouz said.

It only got better with time according to statistics that Azzouz compiled in 2001 that looked at 70 countries.

“By this time in North America, 55 percent of [broadcast journalists] and 36 percent of reporters were women,” she said.

There were many obstacles female journalists had to go through to get where they are today, according to Azzouz.

Some of the obstacles included gender discrimination, censorship, inequality in pay and coverage opportunities.

“When it came to big events, [the editors] prefer to send men as to women,” Azzouz said.

The civil war in Algeria also took a fatal toll on female journalists, during which time it was the most dangerous place for any journalist to be.

“Nine female journalists were killed by terrorists in the 10 years that this civil war was going on,” Azzouz said. She then turned to a quote by fellow journalist, Mouloud Benmohamed, who further explained why women journalists were most targeted.

“[Terrorists] started attacking women because they’re a symbol,” said Benmohamed. “Women are the backbone of the family. If you terrorize women, you terrorize the whole society.”

Violence was major in the civil war, but for the most part it was directed purely at the women.

“I couldn’t believe there was so much violence going on directed just at the women journalists,” Kwiatkowski said.

With all these bad events taking place, things could only improve, and they did. A female journalist by the name of Mahassen al-Eman was the first “official” recognized female journalist.

“Most Arab countries give a professional card to journalists to go cover an event,” Azzouz said.

Eman was one of the women journalists who first obtained this.

There was also Caroline Faraj, who was the first woman journalist in Jordan to graduate with an actual degree in journalism.