2019: Najwa Alimi
With her life at stake, journalist Najwa Alimi challenges Afghanistan’s traditional view of women and men. In a country where women are seldom allowed to leave their homes unaccompanied, she can be seen on television as a reporter on the Afghan TV channel Zan TV. Najwa Alimi is awarded the Per Anger Prize for her fight for freedom of expression and women's rights.
– I want to demonstrate that women can work in an industry considered taboo for them. I realised that journalism was the quickest way if I wanted to reach women all around Afghanistan, and that it could serve as a platform to fight for women’s rights, says Najwa Alimi.
Afghanistan is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists, but also for women in general. Najwa Alimi is 25 years old, and she currently works as a reporter for the Afghan TV channel Zan TV, the only channel in the country that employs only female reporters and editors. She has made a name for herself as a fearless reporter, raising topics preferably avoided by other journalists, including social vulnerability, homelessness, drug addiction, and women's rights.
– As a journalist, Najwa Alimi has been shot at and threatened. To keep fighting for women's rights to be seen and heard takes great courage. Najwa Alimi gives hope to a new generation of Afghan girls and boys, says Ingrid Lomfors, Director of the Living History Forum and chairman of the Per Anger Prize jury.
The conditions for women in Afghanistan are slowly improving. But progress is slow, and many women are subjected to both violence and discrimination. More and more women enter the workforce, but harassment and the lack of education still present major obstacles for many of them. Last year, 14 journalists were killed, more than in any other country in the world, and as female journalists grow in numbers, taking up more space, the threat against them increases.
– Receiving the Per Anger Prize makes me even more convinced that I'm on the right track, that I should keep doing what I'm doing, and work even harder. It also proves that an Afghan girl from the countryside can actually become a prize-winning journalist, says Najwa Alimi.
Outside of work, she and her friends run a book café, providing a haven for young girls and boys where they can borrow books and talk freely.
Najwa Alimi will be presented with the Per Anger Prize on 17 October at a ceremony held at the grand theatre Göta Lejon in Stockholm. The prize will be presented by the Swedish Minister of Culture and Democracy, Amanda Lind. The prize winner will be available for interviews in Stockholm on 14–16 October.
The Per Anger Prize is the Swedish government’s international prize for human rights and democracy. The prize was established in 2004 to draw attention to diplomat Per Anger's great work during the Second World War. The Living History Forum has been commissioned by the government to award the prize each year.
This year’s prize winner was nominated by Reporters Without Borders Sweden.