Mariam Ouédraogo of Burkina Faso Accepts ICFJ Knight International Journalism Award

By: 11/03/2023

Mariam Ouédraogo is a fearless journalist whose reports have shown the devastating impact of war on civilians in conflict-torn Burkina Faso. Ouédraogo, who is the winner of the ICFJ Knight International Journalism Award, delivered the following remarks on Nov. 2 at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC, at the ICFJ Tribute to Journalists 2023


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I want to thank the ICFJ staff who made this moment possible.

Receiving this award is a surprise for me because I didn’t know my work had such an impact on people’s lives.

Covering women abused by terrorists has been an enriching but also painful experience for me. Painful, because I was deeply moved by the accounts of women who were prostituted and raped by terrorist groups but who managed to escape that hell. These experiences impacted me so much that I had to undergo psychotherapy and take time off work.

After my medical leave, without having fully recovered, I headed back to the field to meet other survivors of terrorist violence and hear their accounts of rape, abortions, suicide attempts and repudiation by society. These disturbing new accounts once again had an impact on my health.

But I feel it is my duty to go back in the field, to be the eyes and ears of society. In the end, it has been worth it, because in addition to the actions taken for these victims, I am comforted by the many expressions of recognition, like the one today.

I would like to dedicate this award to all those who are fighting for a better world.

To my media, EDITIONS SIDWAYA, which has helped me amplify the cries of distress of these battered women. 

To three people who paved the way for me. My maternal grandmother always helped all those in need. My mother, this intrepid woman, does so much to l help her children and anyone in difficulty. My father, who worked hard to look after his family. May he and my grandma continue to inspire us from above.

Finally, to all the women who languish in pain and silence because of the violence of conflict, fighting for their and their children’s survival.



I dedicate this prize to you, and I pray that peace will return to my Burkina Faso and other countries under terrorist attack.

Thank you very much.

Mesdames et Messieurs ;

Je tiens à remercier le staff de ICFJ qui a rendu ce moment possible. 

Recevoir ce prix est une surprise pour moi, car j’ignorais   que mon travail avait autant d’impact sur la vie des gens.

Travailler sur les femmes violentées par les terroristes a été une expérience enrichissante mais aussi douloureuse pour moi. Douloureuse, parce que j’ai été très  touchée par le récit des femmes rescapées de l’enfer terroriste, prostituées et violées. Ces expériences m’ont tellement affectée que j’ai dû suivre une psychothérapie et prendre un arrêt de travail.  

Après cet arrêt, j’ai repris la route du Centre nord sans être totalement rétablie pour rencontrer d’autres survivantes des violences terroristes et écouter les récits de leur viols, avortements, tentatives de suicides et répudiation Ces nouveaux récits troublants ont de nouveau impacté ma santé. 

Mais j’estime que c’est un devoir pour moi de reprendre le terrain être les yeux  et  oreilles  de la société.  Finalement, cela en valait tellement la peine, car en plus des actions prises en faveur de ces victimes, je suis réconfortée par les nombreuses marques de reconnaissances, comme celle d’aujourd’hui.

Je voudrais dédier ce prix à tous ceux qui se battent pour un monde meilleur.

A mon média, les EDITIONS SIDWAYA, qui mon’t aidées à amplifier les cris de détresse de ces femmes meurtries. 

A trois personnes qui ont su tracer ma voie.

Ma grand-mère maternelle, aidait toujours tous ceux qui en avaient le besoin. Ma mère, cette intrépide dame, fait tant pour aider ses enfants et toute personne en difficulté.

Mon père qui a travaillé dur pour s'occuper de sa famille.   

Que de là-haut, ma mamie et lui continuent  de nous inspirer.   

Enfin, à   toutes ces femmes qui croupissent dans la douleur et dans le silence, du fait de la violence des conflits et qui se battent pour leur survie et celle de leur progéniture.

Je vous dédie ce prix, et je prie pour que la paix revienne dans mon Burkina Faso et dans les autres pays en proie aux attaques terroristes. 

Je vous remercie 

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