Jamaima Afridi is a freelance journalist based in north-west Pakistan on the edge of the Khyber Pass.
Her stories focus on injustices faced by women and vulnerable groups in her community. Jamaima is a finalist in Thomson Foundation’s Young Journalist Award 2023.
Jamaima, who is 22 years old, says her motivation for the stories she tells comes from witnessing injustices since childhood in her community. “I realised that journalism could hold the key and bring attention to these problems and the untold stories”, she says.
Her first story, published by Nikkei Asia, examines the plight of Afghan women who have fled to Pakistan to escape the Taliban. In it she documents the story of refugees struggling to access housing, health and work in Pakistan.
I realised that journalism could hold the key and bring attention to these problems
Jamaima says she faces lots of challenges as a woman journalist 'in a patriarchal environment', but sometimes it works in her favour.
“The biggest advantage is that I have access to both men and women in our society,” she says. “Women often do not want to give interviews to men, so it became very easy for me to gain their trust.”
A case in point is her second story about tribal women pursuing their inheritance rights which was published by Voicepk.net.
“These courageous women keep fighting despite the opposition from tribal elders, the rooted effect of patriarchal society and a lack of political awareness,” she says.
Jamaima was chosen earlier this year for Connect 6, a Thomson Foundation mentoring scheme which linked six young journalists with six of the best in the industry.
She took part alongside last year's finalists for the Young Journalist of the Year Award and two others, who like her, had performed well in the competition.
Jamaima says she was filled with ‘immense joy’ when she heard she’d been shortlisted for this year’s Young Journalist award.
The shortlist is judged by an external panel from the Foreign Press Association Awards. This year’s panel are journalists Marcela Gutiérrez Bobadilla (W Radio, Mexico), Tristan de Bourbon-Parme (La Libre Belgique, Belgium), and Antonella Zangaro (il Giornale, Italy).
Praising Jamaima, the panel says, “[Her] stories are well documented, and her writing is very emotional... She showed us the suffering, without trivialising it.”
In partnership with the UK Foreign Press Association (FPA), the annual award is open to journalists aged 30 and under, from countries with a Gross National Income (GNI) per capita of less than US$20,000.
Each entrant needs to submit a portfolio of three published pieces of work produced in the 12 months preceding the deadline for submissions which was August 11th, 2023.
The winner will be announced at the Foreign Press Association Awards in London, UK on November 20, 2023.