Congratulations to Gertrude Pswarayi for winning this year's 2011 Kurt Schork Award in the local reporter category. After strengthening her voice through World Pulse's inaugural <a href="http://www.worldpulse.com/fr/pulsewire/programs/world-pulse-voices-of-ou..." target=_blank">Voices of Our Future class in 2009, Gertrude has become an inspiration to the World Pulse community—and now to the world. Gertrude received the $5,000 award for her Global Press Institute story, "Political Rape Survivors Come Forward in Advance of 2011 Election," an article published last December about women who were raped and exploited as a tool of political persecution in Zimbabwe.
"We applaud her bravery and daring in telling the disturbing stories of raped and exploited women in Zimbabwe, a country with zero tolerance for the journalism of revelation," wrote the judges. "Just when you feel that you can neither read, nor watch/listen to anything more about Mugabe's Zimbabwe, you must come to terms with what Gertrude has told us."
Gertrude, who was hired by World Pulse partner Global Press Institute after completing World Pulse's Voices of Our Future citizen journalism training program, is now a senior reporter for GPI, and says she has long been committed to telling the difficult stories from her home country.
"Between 2003 and 2005, more than five privately owned newspapers were shut down and three community radios were banned as the government went berserk in attempts to strangle the independent voice," she said. "This scenario has frightened a number of women into abandoning the media industry. I am of the few women who remain committed to the perilous industry in the country."
In her role as co-founder and director of the Creative Centre for Communication and Development and a senior reporter for the Global Press Institute, Pswarayi says she is proud to leverage the position of women in Zimbabwe, using new information and communication technologies to raise women's voices on critical issues.
Gertrude has taken active leadership in the World Pulse community since she joined our online network in 2009. When an anti-gay bill came before Ugandan parliament in 2010, threatening to persecute and silence local activists, Gertrude spoke up on their behalf. She not only wrote passionately in support of LGBT rights throughout Africa, but galvanized women from all over the world to raise their voices against injustice.
Gertrude's visionary leadership sparked a global conversation and led to World Pulse's first action blogging campaign. Taking Gertrude's lead, we have continued to gather women's testimonies from around the world on urgent issues, making waves at influential forums like the United Nations and the US Department of State. Gertrude showed us that together we are stronger; and that when women join together to raise the volume on the issues that affect their lives, world leaders can no longer ignore their voices.