FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 26, 2005
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Courage acceptance speech - Shahla Sherkat
I have been a journalist for 24 years and I have a magazine for women named Zanan, a 14-year-old child which I have gone through hardship to raise.
I believe journalism in developing countries is like tightrope walking. You have to be careful where you are putting your feet, otherwise you will fall. Journalism is a fine art in these countries. You have to know where, when, and how to say things in order to be accepted.
As you know all women around the world have common basic problems. They are considered as the second sex and they don’t have equal opportunities with men. Now you can imagine how hard your work would be when you are a woman journalist, especially if you wish to discuss about serious issues that only men have been talking about them so far.
Many men or even women have told me that they were expecting a heavy, rough, aggressive woman when they saw me for the first time. These people divide women into two groups: rough and unchangeable, or fragile and dependent. And of course in their mind, I would be in the first group because I am involved in publishing a serious magazine for women.
Zanan, one of the highest circulated magazines about women in Iran, is published with the help of a group of women journalists who sometimes work around the clock. In reality, changing from tradition to modernism is on their shoulder.
Anything that happens in women’s affairs in my country is not hidden from the eagle eyes of my magazine. In our pages we have included the suffering of young girls weaving rugs in the sweatshops. We have told of the woman who won the first prize while racing a car against ten men. We have covered the story of a woman whose husband imprisoned her at home and featured the words of the Iranian woman lawyer who won the Nobel Peace Prize.
We are trying to raise women’s awareness for their needs and their expectations of the society and their families. In turn we are hoping that the society would utilize women’s skills and capabilities. We believe that one would carry out whatever is expected of him or her.
Today I am very happy to be here talking with you directly without the intervention of the media which portrays me as a close-minded woman imprisoned at home or you as the beautiful dolls on Hollywood cinema. We need to know each other more and become friends for more heart-to-heart talks. I would like to thank IWMF many times for providing this opportunity and among so many qualified women choosing me for this award. With no doubt women have to compete more in order to win!