Lesley Abdela writes herself into history with a journalism prize


Veteran journalist Lesley Abdela has been crowned Woman Political Journalist of the year. She received the accolade last month at the Dods and Scottish Widows Women in Public Life Awards, which honour female role models.

Ms Abdela has more than 20 years’ experience in the field of gender and democratic development. She has worked in 30 countries, including Iraq, Nepal and Afghanistan, as an advisor to governments, international organisations and the private sector. She tells People: “I didn’t think that I had a chance of winning. For once in my life I was speechless.”

Credited as one of the world’s leading experts on gender issues, Ms Abdela has received many awards, including the UK Woman of Europe award for her work towards the empowerment of women in Central and Eastern Europe. In 2006, she was ranked in the New Statesman’s Top 50 Heroes Of Our Time poll. What’s been the highlight? She says that all of her work has been meaningful, but that her time in Iraq at in late 2003 and early 2004 was particularly interesting. “It was such an unusual experience. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared at times. Things really hotted up there and people were actively targeting us.” She has also spent time in Albania and Senegal, where she was training journalists and editors about sex-trafficking and gender-based violence.

Ms Abdela, who lives in East Sussex, hopes to chronicle her experiences in a forthcoming book.

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