WOW Festival – Day 2
Refusing to be silenced – Elena Kudimova, Masih Alinejad, Lorraine Jordan and chaired by Mariana Katzarova
“Men fight, it’s the women that keep society together” is the response from Mariana Katzarova, founder of RAW in WAR (Reaching All Women in WAR), when questioned on how women have power in a war torn country. But the main question to be answered through this talk was who are the women that risk their lives to speak the truth?
As an audience, we were presented with four of the strongest woman I have come to meet in all of my life. In front of me where women who, considered powerless, held all the power in their hands at one point. Whistle blowers, activists, feminists are all words that I would connote with them but one of the four women stood out the most – Masih Alinejad.
Taking light from my talk with Maxine Peake (find that here – https://whatsgoingonfriday.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/wowfest-justice-is-only-for-the-people-who-can-afford-it/) who focused on the idea of bringing women’s stories to the front of media, I decided rather than focusing on the talk as a whole, I would have a short discussion about Masih Alinejad’s story.
Alinejad, currently living in exile in the UK, is an Iranian journalist and writer. Alinejad now works as a reporter on TV and as a correspondent for Farda, but her life has been far from settled.
Politically active from a young age, Masih was trying in every way to become a part of change and could be found producing leaflets that critiqued the Government from just the of 18. She truly began her career in 2001 when she became a journalist and began working in many papers. Soon she moved on and became a political journalist, giving her access to her government and politicians.
Whilst in parliament, Masih uncovered a lot of secrets about corruption and in 2005 she wrote an article that showed a considerable sum of money was given to MPs as a New Year bonus. The article generated lots of controversy and led to her dismissal from the parliament. Through journalism, Masih had reached a level of power in her career that gave her the leverage for change. Unfortunately things got worse after her dismal.
Masih described to us what she went through that shocked the audience. She received death threats from people in high places and did not know where to turn. She was pregnant with her first child when her, and her family, were thrown into prison where she was left for over a month before being released. All of this happened because she held power, and no body liked it. She spoke out and paid the consequences, like being exiled from her country of birth.
Masih now, like all of the other speakers on the panel, campaigns that people can expose corruption and speak the truth without having to be put in danger.
The talk was concluded with a performance from Lorraine Jordan, which a small section of can be seen below.
Many thanks to Southbank Centre’s WOW – Women of the World Festival 2014 for putting together an amazing pair of individuals.
• Masih Alinejad’s story
• An impressive live Skype call from a journalist in Syria
• The performance from Lorraine Jordan
‘Best quote’ from the talk
• “Men fight, its women that hold society together.”
• “We will not be scared! We will not be silenced!”
• “I am just a woman.”