UNESCO supports women journalists in Central America

The UNESCO Cluster Office in Costa Rica launched two initiatives geared towards building the resilience of women journalists who continue to face digital attacks, harassment and physical aggressions in Central America.

The Central American Support Group for Women Journalists and the Regional Psychological First Aid Volunteer Network are the latest in a series of initiatives of the UNESCO Cluster Office in Costa Rica geared towards strengthening freedom of expression, and enhancing the safety and wellbeing of journalists.

Through the Support Group, journalists in Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador will receive psychological support through monthly group sessions geared towards helping them address the effects of the attacks and aggressions.  In addition, through retreats and workshops organized within the framework of this initiative, women journalists will also have the opportunity to build solidarity, create smaller support networks, and generate ideas on how to improve the safety of women journalists across the region, strengthen freedom of the press, and find solutions for other challenges such as disinformation.

Complementing the Support Group is the Volunteer Network which will be comprised of journalists across Central America committed to providing urgent support to their colleagues in times of crisis. Potential volunteers will participate in a series of workshops and capacity building initiatives geared towards giving them the tools and knowledge necessary to offer first aid psychological support.

Both the Support Group and the Volunteer Network are linked to the UN Plan on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, UNESCO´s mandate to promote press freedom and freedom of expression, and the Organization´s continuing emphasis on supporting women journalists all across the world. The need to continually support women journalists is highlighted in a 2020 UNESCO report which shows that 73% of women journalists who responded to an international survey had experienced online violence in the course of their work. The report also indicates that 25% had received threats of physical violence while 18% had been threated with sexual violence. Furthermore, 20% reported being attacked offline in connection with online violence they had experienced. These attacks can have a chilling effect on freedom of expression by encouraging self-censorship.

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