A Nigerian journalist, Shola Lawal, has been announced as a 2019 IWMF Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow by the International Women’s Media Foundation – IWMF.
Lawal was selected from more than 100 applicants from 43 countries.
In a statement released on the IWMF’s website, “Lawal will begin her fellowship this fall as a research associate in residence with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s Center for International Studies in addition to completing journalism stays at The Boston Globe and The New York Times.
“Lawal’s career-changing experience will also highlight reporting on West Africa during a time where recent accreditations in Nigeria are restricting press freedom.”
According to Linda Henry, the Managing Director of The Boston Globe, “Our Editorial Board deeply values this fellowship, and the legacy of social justice reporting Elizabeth Neuffer established at our organization.
“We are living in challenging times where freedom of the press is as important as ever. We look forward to the investigative lens Shola will apply as she contributes to upcoming editorials.”
In another statement by the Executive Director of the IWMF, Elisa Lees Muñoz, “Elizabeth Neuffer paved the way for countless women who serve humanity through the stories they cover.
“Shola’s drive to bear witness to these stories, coupled with her global experience in reporting, is the perfect match for this fellowship.”
Meanwhile, the fellowship recipient who disclosed that it is certainly her biggest career achievement so far stated that her selection sends a powerful message of diversity to every aspiring female journalist on the African continent.
“I am honored to be selected as the 2019 IWMF Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow and shoulder Elizabeth’s legacy for the many female journalists who will follow me – it is certainly my biggest career achievement thus far.
“By selecting me, the IWMF is sending a powerful message of diversity to every aspiring female journalist on the African continent: Keep striving! Your work matters, it is noticed, and it will be rewarded.”
A graduate of the University of Lagos, Lawal started her career in journalism as a freelance correspondent, with bias for specific issues of humanity and injustice. She has reported from the heart of Nigeria’s Boko Haram conflict and was a Nigeria’s representative at the 2018 Foreign Correspondents Program in Finland.
A recipient of the 2018 Tiger Eye Journalism Grant to uncover war crimes in Sierra Leone, Lawal’s documentary film, ‘Where Gods Live,’ which follows marginalised indigenous religious worshippers in Nigeria, will be released later this year.
Lawal’s runner-up is a Turkey-based independent investigative journalist, Burcu Karakaş, whose works on human rights, migration, free speech and gender issues, have attracted wide acclaim, including the European Union Investigative Journalist Prize for her reporting on the suspicious deaths of women in Southeastern Turkey.
Now in its fifteenth year, the fellowship provides journalists with training and experience reporting on human rights and social justice issues.