The IWMF Announces Nigerian Journalist Shola Lawal as 2019 Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow

Boston Globe, MIT and NYT to Welcome West African Journalist

[June 13, 2019 – WASHINGTON, DC] – The International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) today announced the selection of Nigerian journalist Shola Lawal as its 2019 IWMF Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow from a field of more than 100 applicants spanning 43 countries. This unique fellowship, now in its 15th year, provides journalists with training and experience reporting on human rights and social justice issues.

Lawal will begin her fellowship this fall as a research associate in residence with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s Center for International Studies in addition to completing journalism stays at The Boston Globe and The New York Times. Lawal’s career-changing experience will also highlight reporting on West Africa during a time where recent accreditations in Nigeria are restricting press freedom.

“Our Editorial Board deeply values this fellowship, and the legacy of social justice reporting Elizabeth Neuffer established at our organization,” said Linda Henry, Managing Director, The Boston Globe. “We are living in challenging times where freedom of the press is as important as ever. We look forward to the investigative lens Shola will apply as she contributes to upcoming editorials.”

This fellowship was created in memory of Elizabeth Neuffer, a Boston Globe correspondent and IWMF Courage in Journalism Award winner who died in 2003 while reporting in Iraq. In collaboration with her family, friends and peers, the fellowship honors Neuffer’s legacy while advancing work in a field where she broke boundaries.

“Elizabeth Neuffer paved the way for countless women who serve humanity through the stories they cover,” said Elisa Lees Muñoz, Executive Director, the IWMF. “Shola’s drive to bear witness to these stories, coupled with her global experience in reporting, is the perfect match for this fellowship.”

Based in Nigeria, which is currently ranked 120 on the 2019 World Press Freedom Index, Lawal began her career in journalism after graduating from the University of Lagos. As a freelance correspondent, Lawal’s reporting calls attention to specific issues of humanity and injustice, such as the women’s rights movement in Nigeria, migrants in Libya, forest reserves in Ghana and political upheaval in Togo.

In 2019 Lawal reported from the heart of Nigeria’s Boko Haram conflict. That same year Lawal represented Nigeria at the 2018 Foreign Correspondents Program in Finland and was a recipient of the 2018 Tiger Eye Journalism Grant to uncover war crimes in Sierra Leone. Lawal’s documentary film, ‘Where Gods Live,’ which follows marginalized indigenous religious worshippers in Nigeria, will be released this year.

“I am honored to be selected as the 2019 IWMF Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow and shoulder Elizabeth’s legacy for the many female journalists who will follow me – it is certainly my biggest career achievement thus far,” said Lawal. “By selecting me, the IWMF is sending a powerful message of diversity to every aspiring female journalist on the African continent: Keep striving! Your work matters, it is noticed, and it will be rewarded.”

This year’s Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow runner-up is Burcu Karakaş, an independent investigative journalist based in Turkey. Her reporting for Deutsche Welle and Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso focuses on human rights, migration, free speech and gender issues. Karakaş’ work has attracted wide acclaim, including the European Union Investigative Journalist Prize for her reporting on the suspicious deaths of women in Southeastern Turkey.

More information about the Elizabeth Neuffer Fellowship and other programs can be found on the IWMF website.


About the International Women’s Media Foundation

Founded in 1990, the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) is the only global non-profit organization that offers emergency support, safety training, reporting opportunities and funding avenues offered specifically for female journalists. We are making more women’s bylines possible and work tirelessly to ensure a greater diversity of voices represented in the news industry worldwide. Follow the IWMF on Twitter at @IWMF, on Facebook at @IWMFPage, and Instagram on @TheIWMF.

Media Contact:
Charlotte Fox
Director of Communications
(202) 567-2615