November 2, 2012
On October 29, 2012, Gibson Dunn’s Theodore Boutrous and actress and author Aisha Tyler co-hosted the International Women’s Media Foundation Courage in Journalism Awards, the only international awards ceremony that recognizes the bravery of women journalists. Gibson Dunn is a longtime supporter of IWMF and its mission. For more than 20 years, IWMF has combatted the unequal treatment of women and barriers to free speech, impressing upon the international community that no press is truly free unless women have an equal voice. Each year, IWMF draws global attention to some of the world’s most extraordinary women journalists, and showcases their unparalleled courage in reporting the news under extreme and often life-threatening circumstances. Boutrous stepped in as co-host for Cindi Leive, Editor-in-Chief of Glamour magazine, who was stranded by Hurricane Sandy. The awards were presented by accomplished women of the U.S. media and entertainment world, including Maria Shriver, Annette Bening, Chelsea Handler, and Olivia Munn.
In an inspiring ceremony, this year the IWMF presented its annual Courage in Journalism awards to: Reeyot Alemu, a columnist for the independent Ethiopian newspaper Feteh, currently serving a five year prison sentence for writing articles criticizing her country’s government; Asmaa al-Ghoul, a freelance writer and blogger working in Gaza, who has continued to report the truth in the face of death threats and severe beatings from Hamas security forces; and Khadija Ismayilova, who has faithfully investigated and reported corruption in Azerbaijan, despite being targeted by an outrageous smear campaign intended to silence her reporting. Alongside these remarkable women, the IWMF also honored Zubeida Mustafa, the first female editor in the Pakistani mainstream media, with its 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award. At 71, Mustafa, a true trailblazer in the field of journalism and an inspiration to generations of women journalists around the world, continues to report at Dawn, one of Pakistan’s oldest and most widely circulated English-language newspapers. The event was featured in The Wrap and Glamour.
As Boutrous wrote in The Huffington Post, "By honoring these four brave and amazing women during tonight’s ceremony, IWMF will help ensure that this profound commitment someday will be embraced and will flourish around the globe." Given the hundreds of influential members of the press, government, and future leaders in attendance at this year’s awards ceremony, hopefully that day is fast approaching.