Saniya Toiken of the Khazak Service, known locally as Radio Azattyq, was recognized by the International Women’s Media Award (IWMF) for her work in Kazakhstan, “where journalists are routinely threatened, beaten, or killed because of their work.” She became the first woman journalist from Kazakhstan, who receives this high award.
Toiken has worked at Radio Azattyq since 2007 as a reporter based out of Aktau, the capital of the Mangystau Oblast region of Kazakhstan. A graduate of the Faculty of Journalism of the Kazakh National University named after Al-Farabi, Toiken has reported for multiple local Kazakh newspapers in her career including as a correspondent, then editor of the Kazakh edition of the Atyrau-based regional newspaper Ak Zhaiy. Toiken has served as Press Secretary of the Kazakhstan State Committee on Privatization. In 2013, she founded her own newspaper, Ne Khabar?! (What’s New?!), and served as its editor-in-chief until July 2015.
“This year’s awardees are working in countries that largely go unreported in the United States. Often at great risk, they have managed to bring to light some of the most important global stories of our times while facing immense personal hardship and, frequently, intense threats to their personal safety,” said the IWMF’s Executive Director, Elisa Lees Muñoz. She added, “We couldn’t be more thrilled to be recognizing their commitment to press freedom and the pursuit of the truth through our annual Awards.” Winners were announced at a private ceremony in Los Angeles on May 9.
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