XXIII Congress of the Worldwide Association of Women Journalists and Writers
Hello to all of you who attended the XXIII Congress of the Worldwide Association of Women Journalists and Writers in the UK. Or those who couldn’t make it but have been following our progress on social media.
The Congress was a big success and we had a huge amount of positive feedback. We are starting to put some updates, videos and photos on the website, and we hope to share some of the presentations we heard. We had 350 attendees from 40 countries, and more than 100 speakers.
There was a great deal of interest in the theme of story telling and its complexity, summed up beautifully by our keynote speaker, Turkish British author Elif Shafak.
The four days closed with an inspirational talk of a journey from journalism to politics, by Chilean former presidential candidate Beatriz Sanchez.
In between we heard discussion on topics such as what younger audiences need from the media, frontline reporting, how to change organisations, and perspectives from the Middlle East, Africa and Asia. We heard Helen Pankhurst, call for solidarity and feminism, and the Women’s Equality Party’s media lead Athena Stevens talk about the importance of political engagement.
One unifying area of concern throughout was the online harassment of women journalists and writers. Digital media brings huge opportunities, but also brings challenges. I was shocked by how prevalent the stories of abuse, threats and intimidation were, from journalists across the world. The Association will be working with international organisations to share information about how best to deal with these kinds of issues, and will provide a network of support for those who are going through it.
This was the first UK Congress is the Association’s history, but also the first time the Association has offered bursaries to attend. We brought eight journalism students from outside London and the southeast to event, giving them opportunities to network and learn from others in the industry. One of our bursary winners, an international student from Bangladesh, told me that she had no idea women journalists in the ‘developed’ world were still dealing with the issues that she experiences – discrimination in the workplace, online abuse and sexism.
We were keen to give practical skills to delegates, as well discussion, networking and inspiration. We offered workshops on Virtual Reality, mobile journalism and investigative tools.
The presidency of AMMPE normally changes every two years, however until there is a firm proposal from a new president to take over and stage the next Congress in 2020, I’ll remain president. In that time I’ll be setting up a new UK chapter, the first in AMMPE’s 50 year history, and trying to do what I can to make the organisation more sustainable. We’ll also be really focusing on the website.
Luckily I’ll be helped by a great organising committee, and lots of interest from amongst our volunteers, bursary winners and speakers.
I want to say a big thank you to all of those as well as our hosts and sponsors and all those who supported the Congress. It was a truly international event that with fantastic content and a really constructive and positive atmosphere. It was hard work, but all of us who worked on it are very proud of what we achieved.