This International Women’s Day, give men space to be advocates too.

Photo by King Lip on Unsplash

Is storytelling a gendered affair? Are we truly open to the participation of men in the fight for women’s rights?

As a woman who has been working in media for many years and in human rights content in particular, I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by feminist men who both professionally and personally address and support women’s rights. It is not uncommon that they write and report about harassment and unequal treatment faced by women, and they do so from a place of integrity and solidarity.

As governments struggle in response to COVID-19, long-term investments in global media are needed to keep people safe and newsrooms healthy.

Journalism is in a rough place. As the world relies more heavily on independent fact-based health information due to the pandemic, journalists everywhere are under increased pressure and in the line of fire, and not just figuratively speaking.

Global independent media find themselves in the vulnerable position of waiting for governments and donors to decide on their future funding as they adapt to the COVID-19 crisis.

Nonprofit media, from small grassroots radio stations to popular multimedia platforms, still largely depend on donor funding. This often comes from media development foundations, which in turn receive their funding through grants from government…

Photo of author in National Park Utrechtse Heuvelrug, the Netherlands.

Kindness is not weakness. When will you learn?

Being kind does not mean saying yes to everything. Instead, kindness is setting and keeping boundaries with an intention and approach of empathy towards the other using non-violent communications.

When will you learn?

I was deputy director at 29, executive director at 30 and throughout my professional career I have been told I am soft.

When I would choose negotiation over force, I was accused of not being strict or aggressive enough.

I have the tendency to smile a lot so I have been mocked by men for my girly presence.


Image created by Daniel Barreto. Submitted for United Nations Global Call Out To Creatives, help stop the spread of COVID-19. Via Unsplash.

The benefits of empathic leadership during a time of crisis

Even through the bushes that are still partly bare due to the last remainder of what winter brought, I can tell she feels a bit uneasy about it all. Her body language being more nervous than usual with raised shoulders and a soft giggle. The conversations between myself and my next door neighbour are at a time of self-quarantine now exchanged through the bushes that divide our backyards. Our kids on each side of the hedgerow.

Only a week ago we were sitting at her picnic table drinking wine while our children were jumping on the trampoline. This was a…

“Knock Knock! Hello Free World! … Can you hear us?” These words are part of a tweet by Iranian freelance journalist Mohammad Mosaed that got him arrested Nov. 22 in Iran.

To publish this tweet, he used 42 different proxy servers to access the internet during a nationwide shutdown imposed by the Iranian state. The internet shutdown was a reaction to protests that had erupted Nov. 15 in over 100 cities, following an increase in gas prices. …

May 2, 2019 at 7:33 pm

It was early spring 2008 when I first encountered the beauty and complexities of the country of the thousand hills, Rwanda. From the muddy red roads swirling through green hills into the more urban center of Kigali, I noticed purple flags waving in the wind, which at a first glance provide comfort and a welcoming sight. The dots of purple have emerged themselves into the landscape just as the small cooking fires, roadside passengers and the banana trees. These purple flags, however, now so quietly present, mark the sites of horror. They mark the…

I was asked to speak at an event at Capital Hill about independent media and why it matters for the future of Iran. In the 7 minutes I was given, here is what I said:

There is a city in Southern Iran close to the Iraqi border called Ahvaz. That city is close to the ancient city of Shush. And not far from Shush lies the Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane Factory Complex.

On a Sunday mid-November 2018, a young woman of 23 years old with short blue hair left Ahvaz together with a girlfriend and drove for several hours to…

February 19, 2019 at 11:59 am

It is safe to say that there has been some commotion in the Iranian diaspora media scene over the past years: changes in editorial leadership, the emergence of rich television stations, tensions over renewed budgets and journalists hopping between media outlets. All of this is happening within a highly tense and uncertain geopolitical environment as well as turmoil inside Iran. …

Rieneke Van Santen

Press freedom advocate, media consultant and indiefilm producer. Medium publications in The Startup and Digital Diplomacy.

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