It’s World Press Freedom Day: meet 5 young leaders holding their governments accountable
This article was authored by Anna Rodriguez*
Today we celebrate the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek, known worldwide as World Press Freedom Day. The declarations, created in 1991 by a group of African journalists and reporters, put forth press freedom principles and pushed back against censorship and intimidation. It was one of the first declarations of its kind, and it’s today that we remember how crucial freedom of the press is around the world.
However, this declaration was only the beginning of the fight for freedom of the press. There is still a long way to go before journalists can report without fear of being silenced. According to Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index, abuse and violence against journalists remain widespread in many countries around the world.
Despite these dangers, One Young World (OYW) ambassadors continue in their endeavors to tell the stories that need to be heard in order to uphold democracy, peace, and justice.
Here is a list of OYW Ambassadors that are defying censorship and are fighting for the right to speak out.
Farida Nabourema, Togo
After seeing her father being beaten by the authorities for engaging in peaceful activism, Farida Nabourema has been committed to creating political change and revealing the truth about oppressive governments through media. In 2009, when Farida started blogging about the human rights atrocities in Togo, she was the first woman to own a political blog in her country. Despite the threats, Farida persisted in her fight demanding her government for accountability. Today, she’s one of Togo’s most recognised political activists.
Amir Ashour, Iraq
Amir is Iraq’s most prominent LGBTQ advocate. After working for various human rights organizations for years, he created his own website, IraQueer. Amir uses media like his website to provide members of the LGBTQ community in Iran and Kurdistan resources and information that they may not be able to find through other avenues. Despite the dangers of being gay in Iraq and the risk of being imprisoned or abused based on sexual orientation, IraQueer is leading the way for the LGBTQ movement in the country. He himself was made a target of the government, so he had to flee his home and settle in Sweden.
Watch Amir share his courageous story at One Young World Summit 2014 Dublin:
Noorjahan Akbar, Afghanistan
Noorjahan founded Free Women Writers in 2013 with the hope of exposing the reality of living as a woman in Afghanistan. The online publication’s mission is to tell the authentic stories of Afghan women, by Afghan women. Her project reaches around 48,000 Afghan citizens each week, shaping the way the public understands the treatment of women in the country. Noorjahan seeks to use her platform to educate, create policy change, and hold society and the government accountable.
Inoussa Baguian, Burkina Faso
The sociopolitical situation in Inoussa’s home country of Burkina Faso is what first prompted him to pursue journalism. He is the founder of droitlibre.tv, a web TV source that reports on a variety of issues, including human rights violations in Burkina Faso. Through droitlibre.tv, Inoussa seeks to educate young people and report facts that are not shared in mainstream media in the country.
Kounila Keo, Cambodia
Becoming a reporter at only 17, Kounila has had extensive experience in media and journalism. After taking an interest in blogging as a way to avoid censorship from the mainstream media, she founded Blue Lady Blog, a web platform dedicated to helping youth navigate blogging and social media. Blue Lady Blog frequently addresses issues like freedom of the press and the rights of reporters. Kounila is also responsible for Loy9, a mass media youth campaign in collaboration with the BBC World Service Trust that involved over a million young people in social and political conversations. She was recognised amongs Forbes Asia’s 30 Under 30.
*Anna Rodriguez is studying English and International Studies at the University of Wisconsin — Madison and a former intern at One Young World. She is an aspiring writer and is particularly interested in travel, culture, and globalization. Aside from studying, Anna is also a Writing Fellow and the Essays Editor of Illumination, her university’s literary and arts journal.