#JournalistsToo: 73 % of women journalists participating in UNESCO/ICFJ survey have experienced online violence in the course of their work

On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, UNESCO is releasing preliminary findings to its global survey on online violence against women journalists.

The global survey, commissioned by UNESCO and implemented by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), collected data from more than 1200 respondents from all over the world.

Initial results from the survey show that:

  • 73% of women journalists participating in the survey say they have experienced online violence in the course of their work, including threats of physical and sexual violence, along with digital security attacks.  
  • 20% of women journalists who responded to the survey say they have been abused and attacked offline in connection with online violence targeting them.

The survey is part of an ongoing global study on online violence against women journalists. The study aims to map the scale and impacts of the issue internationally, especially in the under-studied Global South, and seeks to bring forth recommendations to different stakeholders including governments, the media industry, civil society organisations and technology companies for more effective ways to counter the problem.

Around the globe, female journalists appear to be facing increasing levels of online abuse and violence ranging from harassment, trolling, doxing, sexist hate speech, to threats of sexual or physical violence. In another global survey, conducted earlier this year by ICFJ and the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University as part of the Journalism and Pandemic Project, 16 percent of women respondents[1] said online abuse and harassment was “much worse than normal.”

These threats can lead some women journalists to engage in self-censorship, withdraw from frontline reporting and public conversation online, or in the most extreme cases, quit the profession.  Many women journalists have been fighting back, refusing to be silenced, even when doing so has exposed them to further risks.

More extensive survey results  will be presented during the World Press Freedom Conference 2020, as part of  a session entitled ‘Online violence: The New Front Line for Women Journalists - #JournalistsToo’, on Thursday 10 December at 10.45 am. The session will feature Carole Cadwalladr, Ranna Ayyub and Ferial Haffajee, three journalists who have experienced and fought back against online hate. To attend the session, register for the event here

This project has received financial support from UNESCO’s Multi-Donor Programme on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists and the Swedish Postcode Foundation.


An Op-Ed on the UNESCO/ICFJ survey, authored by Dr. Julie Posetti, Professor Jackie Harrison and Silvio Waisbord was published in multiple media outlets: Deutsche Welle, Al Jazeera, The Conversation, Rappler, The Quint.  

Online violence and digital threats have real life consequences. They aim to silence women journalists’ voices & are an attack on #PressFreedom.

We need everyone to take urgent action against gender discrimination for #GenerationEquality. #JournalistsToo

— UNESCO (@UNESCO) November 25, 2020



[1] Based on a gender-disaggregated sample of nearly 2100 respondents to a survey conducted in seven languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish), which was fielded through closed networks by ICFJ and the Tow Center between May and July 2020