Kashmiri Journalist Wins IWMF Award for Courage in Photojournalism

File photo of Masrat Zahra

The International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) has honoured Kashmir-based freelance journalist Masrat Zahra (26) with the prestigious Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award this year.

A journalism graduate from the Central University of Kashmir, Zahra’s work has been showcased on media platforms like Washington Post, Al Jazeera, and The Caravan magazine among others.

The award, named after the Pulitzer Prize-winning AP photographer who was killed in 2014 in Afghanistan, includes $20,000. It recognizes “women photographers who put themselves at risk to report the news through images.” Niedringhaus herself had received the IWMF Courage in Journalism Award in 2005.

According to reports, Zahra, born and raised in Srinagar, has been documenting the conflict in India-owned Kashmir for four years. “Her images illustrate the violent confrontations between Kashmiri protesters and Indian security forces and their subsequent toll on the community,” says a report by AP.

The IWMF has stated that Zahra “endures frequent harassment and consistent labelling as a threat to the Indian government.” In fact, Zahra was reportedly booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) a few months ago, for allegedly uploading posts that glorify “anti-national activities” on social media.

On her Twitter handle, Zahra has stated her gratitude to renowned photographer and journalist Showkat Nanda who mentored her.

“I hope this honour will encourage me to perfect my skills and do my work more confidently. I also expect it to inspire other women photographers who are working in difficult environments. 
This is an honour to all women who choose to work in conflict zones,” Zahra has stated, according to the IWMF.

Hong-Kong based photographer Laurel Chor and Puerto Rico-based Nahir Montcourt have also received honourable mentions by the IWMF. 
The former has been noted for her work covering the protestors fighting for democracy in Hong Kong, while the latter’s work focuses on the civil and political unrest in Puerto Rico.