The recipient of the 2019 IWMF Elizabeth Neuffer Fellowship, Lawal will conduct research and receive further journalistic training on human rights and social justice issues.
The Center for International Studies announces the selection of Nigerian journalist Shola Lawal as the 2019 International Women’s Media Foundation’s (IWMF) Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow. Lawal was selected from a field of 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 on September 3 as a research associate in residence with the MIT Center for International Studies. She will also complete journalism stays at The Boston Globe and The New York Times.
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.
“The Center is honored to welcome Ms. Lawal to MIT as a Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow. She is a courageous journalist who is dedicated to providing a voice to victims of horrific atrocities through her reportage. I hope she finds her time at MIT to be refreshing and productive,” said Richard Samuels, Ford International Professor of Political Science and director of the Center for International Studies.
“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 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.
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.