Trust Women Awards

Indian investigative journalist NEHA DIXIT bags the Trust Women Award

Neha Dixit, a freelance investigative journalist who covers gender issues, development and conflict in South Asia has bagged the 2013 Trust Women Award. Based in New Delhi, she is known for her hard-hitting stories on commercial sex exploitation, child marriage, female feticide and forced labour.

She often carries out investigations at considerable risk to herself and has received many international awards for her work.

Dixit’s reports include “The Nowhere Children”, for which she went undercover to meet traffickers and young victims sold by their families to pimps and placement agents. In “A Taliban of our Very Own”, Dixit tracks the Khap Panchayats across northern India to tell the story of murder, rape and exile being used as routine punishments by these traditional courts. In the film “Honour Killers in Uniform”, she exposes how police in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are not just advocating honour killings but are actually willing to break the law by killing the couples themselves.

Dixit has also exposed madrassas – Islamic seminaries – being used as transit shelters for child trafficking and doubling up as sweatshops. She contributed to the UNESCO Casebook of Investigative Journalism.

She has received many awards including the UNFPA-Laadli Media Award for Best Investigative Feature, Anupama Jayaraman Memorial Award for young women journalists, India’s News Television awards for Best Investigative Feature and Best TV News Reporter, Lorenzo Natali Prize for Journalism Asia-Pacific Region. In 2013, she was a finalist in the Foreign Press Association’s Young Journalist from the Developing World Award.

“Neha is one of India’s most promising young journalists”, said Mariane Pearl, the Managing Editor of Chime for Change and Trust Women Advisory Board member who presented the Award to Neha Dixit. “Neha’s courage and willingness to risk her life to report on women’s rights abuses has had a measurable impact in South Asia, and will continue to do so for decades to come”, added Mariane Pearl.

The winners of the Trust Women Awards also received a cash prize of $5,000 each as an encouragement to continue their work and mission. The Hero Award was supported by Team SCA, the all women’s ocean racing team, which is part of SCA, a global leading hygiene and forest products company that provides personal and intimate hygiene knowledge and products for women.

Indian investigative journalist Neha Dixit and Libyan women’s rights activist Alaa Murabit were selected out of 170 nominations from more than 140 countries. Alaa Murabit is seen as a visionary and pioneer in Libya, helping to put women’s rights at the heart of the country’s new political landscape.

She founded The Voice of Libyan Women (VLW), an organisation that advocates against gender violence and trains women to participate in government and speak out for their rights to be recognised in national policies. Murabit was born and raised in Saskatoon, Canada. After graduating from high school aged 15, she moved to Zawia, Libya, to start working and studying at the College of Medicine at the University of Zawia, where she became the first female member of the Student Council.

During the Libyan revolution she was put on Muammar Qaddafi’s list of most wanted women due to her outspoken support for revolutionaries in the city of Zawia. After the fall of Qaddafi, she organised “One Voice” – the first international women’s conference in Libya. The head of the National Congress, foreign ambassadors, more than 30 members of parliament and local activists attended the event.

She trained seven of the 33 women elected last year to the General National Congress. She was also instrumental in establishing the women’s caucus – the only cross-party group within the legislature.  She has broken taboos over sexual and domestic violence and changed the conversations Libyan families are having about religion. She is known for creating International Purple Hijab Day, devoted to raising awareness of gender-based violence.

Her latest campaign is “Noor”, using the Quran as a lens to help combat domestic violence and teach people about the proper treatment of women. It is the first women’s rights project to receive the approval of Dar al Ifta, Libya’s religious institution, giving the campaign legitimacy in the eyes of the public. Other regional governments, including Saudi Arabia, have asked Murabit to help develop guidelines for researching the extent of domestic violence.

“Alaa is a natural leader, and her organization has achieved tremendous tangible impact for women both in politics and society”, said HM Queen Noor, Founder and Chair of the Noor Al Hussein and the King Hussein Foundations and Trust Women Advisory Board Member, who presented the Award to the winner. “Alaa’s bold thinking and fearless attitude are an inspiration for all women to be the architects of their own future”, HM Queen Noor added.

The winners were revealed on the evening of December 3 at the Trust Women conference in London. “The Trust Women Awards are increasingly becoming internationally recognized for identifying and rewarding exceptional individuals at the forefront of women’s rights”, said Monique Villa, CEO Thomson Reuters Foundation. “This year we received over 170 very good nominations from more than 140 countries, evidence that the scope and impact of the Award is truly global”, she added.