Global Press Institute, GPI, is pleased to announce that Gertrude Pswarayi, a reporter in our Zimbabwe News Desk, has won this year’s 2011 Kurt Schork Award in the local reporter category for her piece “Political Rape Survivors Come Forward in Advance of 2011 Election,” an article published by GPI last December about women who were raped and exploited as a tool of political persecution in Zimbabwe, a country with “zero tolerance for the journalism of revelation,” the judges noted.
Journalists from around the world submitted entries for the 2011 Kurt Schork Memorial Awards, the world’s only journalism prize that specifically honors foreign news by reporters living and working in the developing world and countries in transition.
“We applaud her bravery and daring in telling the disturbing stories of raped and exploited women in Zimbabwe, a country with zero tolerance for the journalism of revelation,” wrote the judges. “Just when you feel that you can neither read, nor watch/listen to anything more about Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, you must come to terms with what Gertrude has told us.”
Pswarayi, who has been a GPI reporter since 2009 and earned the title of senior reporter in 2011, says she has long been committed to telling the difficult stories from her home country.
“Between 2003 and 2005, more than five privately owned newspapers were shut down and three community radios were banned as the government went berserk in attempts to strangle the independent voice,” she said. “This scenario has frightened a number of women into abandoning the media industry. I am of the few women who remain committed to the perilous industry in the country.”
In her role as co-founder and director of the Creative Centre for Communication and Development and a Senior Reporter for the Global Press Institute, Pswarayi says she is proud to leverage the position of women in Zimbabwe, using new information and communication technologies to raise women’s voices on critical issues.
In 2009, Pswarayi was hired by GPI, an international nonprofit organization that uses journalism as a development tool to educate, employ and empower women, who produce high-quality local news coverage that elevates global awareness and ignites social change, after completing a program called Voices of Our Future, VOF, an online training program in new media, citizen journalism, and empowerment created by World Pulse. It was there that Pswarayi met GPI founder and executive director Cristi Hegranes, who is the training partner for VOF.
“Gertrude is a rare soul. She is dedicated to the principled practice of journalism and executes that principle with a brave heart and inspiring talent for storytelling. GPI is thrilled about her honor. In turn, we salute the judges for recognizing such a courageous piece of reporting on a topic that is so important, but so difficult to digest,” said Hegranes.
“Gertrude showed us that together we are stronger; and that when women join together to raise the volume on the issues that affect their lives, world leaders can no longer ignore their voices,” said Jensine Larsen, founder of World Pulse, an online media organization where Pswarayi has also been a blogger since 2009.
Of the eight candidates shortlisted for this honor, two were GPI reporters. The other was GPI senior reporter Tara Bhattarai from Nepal. About her work, the judges noted, “She shines a much needed light on the dark and hidden world of degrading and dehumanizing practices… [Her stories] are told with powerful, compelling personal examples interwoven with essential historical context about culture and behaviour. The writing is spare and unobtrusive. You never forget that these stories are about the victims, not the reporter.”
“Tara is one of the most amazing women I have ever known,” said Hegranes. “She lives the ideal of what GPI was meant to be and we are grateful that the judges here recognized her extraordinary talent.”
Both Pswarayi and Hegranes will attend the awards ceremony in London on November 17, hosted by Thomson Reuters Foundation at Canary Wharf.
Read the full press release here