The Coalition For Women In Journalism (CFWIJ) organized a Mentorship Accelerator for Digital Security and Safety at the Bahria University. CFWIJ’s team led the accelerator to equip attendees with tools and methods to maneuver online spaces and reclaim free speech in the digital sphere.

CFWIJ Global Coordinator Luavut Zahid began the session with an overview of the threats women journalists face online and the kind of risks they could face when in the field. She spoke about the cost of putting oneself out there as a journalists and being bullied, harassed and targeted by anyone in the cyber space.

Digital spaces can often prove to be extremely risky for women journalists, where an online threat can find its way into the physical world with unfortunate ease.

“Digital security is something all journalists need to be more serious about because of how digital our work itself is becoming,” Luavut said when discussing the need for women journalists to be mindful of how real threats online can become.

The session then steered towards participants getting insight about the vulnerability of their public data on the internet. They were given an understanding of one’s information available online and the ways in which it can be accessed and misused to blackmail people.

“If you are into journalism then you have to be careful about the information you’re putting on the internet. What you write and say in cyberspace can be used against you at any given point in your life, and it stays there forever,” she said while explaining the future journalists how it is better to be safe than sorry with respect to digital security.

She added that we need to develop good digital habits as we go along. “Many of us don't even think about how we compromise our own security as journalists, including our online interactions.”

The participants at the session were given a demonstration about the safe use of social media apps, navigate their settings and learn digital safety hacks including two-factor authentication that everyone, particularly journalists, must follow at all cost.

“We need to develop good digital habits as we go along. Many of us don't even think about how we compromise our own security as journalists, including our online interactions,” Luavut told the students who seemed keen to grasp all the important information they were gaining through the mentorship accelerator by CFWIJ.

When talking about the threats women journalists face in online spaces and what they should be doing instead, Luavut said, “Women journalists face unprecedented levels of threats in Pakistan, especially online. But quitting said spaces is the worst thing you can do. We must equip ourselves with the right tools to stay safe and fight back.”

CFWIJ Researcher Rabia Mushtaq discussed her work documenting threats for the organization. “Our report from the first half of the year shows that 20% of all cases of threats were related to online harassment. We see an unprecedented level of abuse against journalists, especially women journalists, in places like Pakistan. It has never been as important to keep security in mind alongside the many other things that journalists consider when they work on their stories,” she said.

“Women journalists are more vulnerable on the internet. Therefore, the need for being informed, aware and equipped with safety and security is the only option to choose,” she added.

The Coalition For Women In Journalism is a global organization of support for women journalists. The CFWIJ pioneered mentorship for mid-career women journalists across several countries around the world, and is the first organization to focus on the status of free press for women journalists. We thoroughly document cases of any form of abuse against women in any part of the globe. Our system of individuals and organizations brings together the experience and mentorship necessary to help female career journalists navigate the industry. Our goal is to help develop a strong mechanism where women journalists can work safely and thrive.