This Fall I attended an event for work where they were honoring female journalists from around the world. I was so impressed by these women and their ability to share with the world a truth that many governments do not want shown.
While the big draw was to promote a lifetime achievement award for Lesley Stahl, I have to say I was much more interested in hearing about some of the other women, such as Zehra Dogan, a Kurdish journalist. Zehra founded a feminist Kurdish news site called JINHA where she reported a series of articles about Yazidi women making their escape from ISIS captivity. I can't share the links as the site appears to have been taken down. Zehra is also a painter, and it was her art that landed her in jail by the Turkish government in July of 2016. The painting depicted a photograph (widely circulated on the internet) of a Turkish city bombed during a battle with Kurdish militants. What the government seemed to take issue with is her painting Turkish flags on buildings, which had been included in the photo.
What is so astounding about Zehra is her persistence to find, and tell the world the truth. From her jail cell, she founded yet another newspaper where she is reporting about the women political prisoners and human rights abuses in prison. She also continues to paint, even though the administration refuses to supply her with painting materials. She instead creates her own paint from food, drinks and menstrual blood and makes brushes from the feathers of birds that fall into the prison. Zehra's courage has inspired others to tell her story. A local New York mural in lower Manhattan, by Banksy, shows Zehra behind bars and counting days imprisoned. In the lower right are the words "Free Zehra Dogan."
I attended the event with my daughter, who is studying communications and human rights in college. I was inspired to see how she took it all in, and encouraged that she is the next generation of female voices in the world.