Being a foreign correspondent is up there with astronaut, ballerina and pop star as many people's childhood "dream job" (it was for me, at least). The idea of travelling to far-flung lands to report on era-defining events seems impossibly glamorous and rewarding, not to mention exciting. But as with most highly coveted, prestigious careers, the day-to-day reality is far from a walk in the park: life-or-death scenarios, extended periods away from home and a whole lot of waiting around.
Historically, foreign correspondence has been dominated by men. There were notable exceptions, of course (Martha Gellhorn and Clare Hollingworth among them), but during the 19th and 20th centuries, female foreign and war reporters were few and far between. Things are different now, thanks to the likes of Kate Adie, Christiane Amanpour, Janine di Giovanni and the late Marie Colvin, who broke the glass ceiling for a new generation of women. Some may argue that gender is irrelevant to the job – that the strength of your work is all that counts – but it is different for women in this line of work. Women are still second-class citizens in much of the world, which can change the dynamic of interactions; statistically, they're at a greater risk of violence, including sexual violence; and, given that women are still predominately the primary caregivers, it can be difficult to have a family without additional help, due to the travelling involved.
But as the correspondents we hear from in the following slides will elaborate, the benefits of having women on the front lines are legion. They can bring new stories and perspectives to light, communicate with those who may not feel comfortable speaking to a man, and illuminate previously unspoken details. Arguably, as geopolitical tensions enter a new, unpredictable phase, their presence has never been more crucial.