The IWMF Announces 2021 Courage in Journalism Award Winners

Journalists and newsrooms in Belarus, India, Peru, and the U.S. receive annual honor

[June 10, 2021 – WASHINGTON, D.C.] – The International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) today announced the recipients of its 31st annual Courage in Journalism Awards. This year’s winners – all reporting from their own communities – include the all-women Dalit reporting and editing staff of Indian news outlet Khabar Lahariya; Paola Ugaz, a Peruvian print and broadcast journalist; freelance U.S. photojournalist Vanessa Charlot; and, imprisoned Belarusian journalists Katsiaryna Andreyeva (Bakhvalava) and Darya Chultsova.

The announcement of the 2021 Courage Awards comes at a time when surges of nationalism, social unrest, gendered attacks, and the oppression of a free press remain at alarming highs worldwide. In its 31st year, the awards seek to honor bravery in all its forms, and the diverse journalists who use uncommon strength to tell stories that change the global discourse.

“This year’s Courage Award winners persist despite incredible odds, including censorship and intimidation both online and offline,” said the IWMF’s Executive Director Elisa Lees Muñoz. “It is an honor to recognize Darya, Katsiaryna, Paola, Vanessa, and the team at Khabar Lahariya for their devotion and determination to keep us informed. For these women, and countless others, participation in public discourse is dangerous and traumatic – we salute them and congratulate their courage.”

For Katsiaryna Andreyeva (Bakhvalava) and Darya Chultsova, reporting in Belarus cost them their freedom. Both journalists were arrested and imprisoned in November 2020 for covering public protests of political repression; they remain jailed facing a two-year sentence. Paola Ugaz – a correspondent for Spanish newspaper ABC – has spent her career investigating injustice. Ugaz’s coverage of abuse within the Catholic church has inspired years of unrelenting legal and physical threats. Independent, hyper-local news outlet Khabar Lahariya is a feminist voice in in Uttar Predesh and Madhya Pradesh. The publication disrupts and interrogates the status quo, where newsmakers have long been male, upper-caste, and politically connected. Vanessa Charlot, a freelance U.S. photojournalist, documented the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement following George Floyd’s murder, during the onset of COVID-19. Under an oppressive gaze, Charlot holds power to account while enduring trauma inflicted upon her own community.

“In receiving this award, Darya represents every woman journalist in Belarus and worldwide who suffers behind bars, despite the risks,” said Chultsova’s mother, Natalya Terebilenko. “I consider it my duty to publish,” commented Ugaz, who continued, “this recognition will help other women journalists in the world to feel that they are not alone.” Charlot noted, “This honor is validation of the work I’m blessed to do and the people whose voices help shape the stories we tell.” Khabar Lahariya shared, “As rural Dalit women, we are mindful of being pathbreakers while also navigating the challenges that have intensified. We are thrilled and humbled by the recognition, and hope it promotes the global recognition of work that can only be done by women who’ve been pushed against a wall for too long.”

Celebrating 31 years of the Courage in Journalism Awards, the IWMF would like to thank Bank of America, its National Presenting Sponsor for the 15th consecutive year, for its commitment to journalism, diversity in news media and the pursuit of press freedom. Support and funding for the Courage in Journalism Awards sustains critical programs, including direct support for the IWMF’s Emergency Fund, which supports women journalists in crisis.

About the 2021 Courage in Journalism Winners

 Katsiaryna Andreyeva (Bakhvalava) and Darya Chultsova (Belarus)

Broadcast and print journalists

Katsiaryna Andreyeva grew up in Minsk and has devoted her life to journalism, developing numerous reporting projects and bylines since 2014. In 2017, she became a reporter for Belsat TV. In co-authorship with Ihar Ilyash, Katsiaryna debuted several investigative reports, and in 2020 they published “Belarusian Donbas” about the role of Belarusians in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. In 2017 and 2020, Andreyeva was recognized as Belsat’s “Television Person of the Year.” She was also a laureate of the BAJ “Free Speech” contest and in 2020, she received the “The Hope of Freedom” award from the Lithuanian Association of Journalists. In 2021, Andreyeva was nominated for the Dariusz Fikus Award by the Press Club of Poland and the Ales Lipay Award in Belarus.

Darya Cultsova was born in Shklou. She graduated from the Faculty of History and Philology of Mahiliou State University with a major in journalism and began focusing on broadcast reporting. After the 2020 elections, Darya moved to Minsk. In 2021, Darya received Ales Lipay’s award (Belarus) and a nomination for Belarusian Human Rights Defenders Community’s Journalist of the Year.

During the summer of 2020 in Belarus, Andreyeva and Chultsova covered peaceful rallies, reporting live from the streets of Minsk. They were arrested together on November 15, 2020, for broadcasting at a violent dispersal of a gathering in memory of murdered protester Raman Bandarenka. After the rally, armed riot police broke the door to the apartment where the journalists were hiding. On November 20, 2020, they were charged under Part 1 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code (the organization and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order). On February 18, 2021, the Frunzenski district court of Minsk sentenced to two years of imprisonment.

Read more of Andreyeva and Chultsova’s stories here and here.

Vanessa Charlot (United States)

Freelance photojournalist: @vanessacharlot_

Vanessa Charlot is a freelance photojournalist and documentary photographer whose work covers the intersection of race, identity, politics, and economics. She has worked throughout the United States, Caribbean, and Southeast Asia. Charlot’s work has been commissioned by the New York Times, Gucci, Vogue, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, Oprah Magazine, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Apple, New York Magazine, Buzzfeed, Artnet News, among other national and international publications. She was recently awarded the Green Family Foundation Award and was among those listed in The New York Times’ 5 Art Accounts to Follow on Instagram Now.

In addition to Charlot’s extensive coverage of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, she also covered the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington, former President Trump’s rallies in St. Louis, Missouri, and Tulsa, Oklahoma. Charlot’s other work includes the impact of COVID-19, gun control, and immigration.

Her current projects are focused on the lived experiences of migrant workers in South Florida, queer families, and other voices absent from mainstream news. She is a member of Women Photograph, Black Women Photographers, Authority Collective, ROAAAR Collective, and Everyday Projects.

Read more of Charlot’s story here.

Khabar Lahariya (India)

Dalit women-led newsroom: @KhabarLahariya

Founded in 2002, Khabar Lahariya is an Indian video-first digital news platform led by a team of all-women Dalit reporters and editors, producing independent news in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. With a hyper-local focus, Khabar Lahariya operates under the premise that, “news in a last-mile village is news, deserving of the same attention as what happens in a city or town.”

The newspaper seeks to brings a feminist voice to local media, interrogating and disrupting the status quo to uplift those traditionally marginalized in the media landscape. It has broken barriers to establish women as journalists in small towns and villages where newsmakers have long been men, upper caste, and well-connected to the political system.

After almost 20 years of this work, Khabar Lahariya’s reporters are still the outliers, even as more and more young women step into the field. As rural Dalit women, the paper’s staff are pathbreakers across gender and caste, navigating myriad challenges and prejudices that have intensified through the years.

Read more of Khabar Lahariya’s story here.

 Paola Ugaz (Peru)

Correspondent, ABC @larryportera

Paola Ugaz is a Peruvian journalist and correspondent for Spanish newspaper ABC, and a host of’s “Diarios de Pandemia.” Ugaz began her career in 1999 as an investigative and human rights journalist for Caretas magazine, exposing election fraud and covering protests during former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori’s second re-election campaign. In 2001, Ugaz became a correspondent for Europa Press, where reported on stories from Peru.

Ugaz later worked for Spanish news agency EFE, and was a founding member of IDL Reporteros, an investigative journalism website. She spent seven years as a correspondent in Peru for Brazilian outlet Terra Magazine. During her time as General Editor of, Ugaz led a team of journalists to win the Peruvian Human Rights Coordinator’s National Journalism Award.

Ugaz has published several books, including “Punche Perú” with photographer Marina García Burgos, “Chinkaqkuna,” (the Missing Ones in Perú), and “Mitad monjes, mitad soldados,” (Half Monks, Half Soldiers) with journalist Pedro Salinas. The latter exposed the physical, psychological, and sexual abuse of former members of Sodalitium, a far-right Catholic organization founded in Peru, earning Ugaz and Salinas the 2016 National Journalism Award and the 2016 Human Rights Award from Peru’s National Human Rights Coordinator.

Read more of Ugaz’s story here.

About the International Women’s Media Foundation

Founded in 1989, the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) is the only global non-profit organization that offers emergency support, safety training, grants, skills building and reporting opportunities specifically for female journalists. We are making more women-produced reporting 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.


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