Free speech has been critical to social movements throughout history. It has consistently been used as a powerful tool for marginalised groups to articulate their grievances and demand to be heard.
But today discussions surrounding “free speech” have unfortunately been dominated by a small number of people who seek to use it primarily to curtail the rights of others and spread hate, leading many to question it as a value.
However, when the principle of free speech is abandoned, those who already face oppression are hurt most: including people of colour, religious and ethnic minorities, and those who campaign on sex and gender issues. Free Speech Is for Me aims to show how freedom of expression furthers democracy and individual liberty and benefits everyone. If we allow free speech protections to be weakened, we lose our greatest tool in advocating for change.
We are now supporting these advocates in reclaiming free speech as a fundamental right that must apply to everyone by offering training and mentoring on freedom of expression issues. This will include one on one support from leading free speech experts plus media, communications and public speaking training. They will end the programme with a clearer understanding of the challenges of censorship and the tools to overcome them.
Jodie Ginsberg is the CEO of Index on Censorship. Prior to joining Index, she worked as a foreign correspondent and business journalist and was previously UK bureau chief for Reuters. She sits on the council of global free expression network IFEX and the board of the Global Network Initiative, and is a regular commentator in international media on freedom of expression issues.
Will Gore is the head of partnerships for the National Council for the Training of Journalists and former managing editor of The Independent, i, Independent on Sunday and the London Evening Standard. He writes on a wide range of topics, including politics, the media and cricket, and writes a weekly column for the Independent on memorable journeys.
Kiri Kankhwende is a Malawian journalist and political analyst based in London who writes primarily about politics and immigration. She has worked in human rights campaigning and is a member of Writers of Colour. She is also a member of Index on Censorship’s board of trustees.
Meera is an accomplished senior journalist with experience in Europe, Asia and Africa, currently the Director of the Journalism Fellowship Programme at the Reuters Institute. She joined the Reuters Institute from Handelsblatt Global where she had been working out of Singapore, having helped launch the digital daily business paper in Berlin in 2014. Her previous experience includes several years as a London based correspondent for the Associated Press, and three years as Africa correspondent for the Independent based in Nairobi, along with stints in business journalism at a range of publications including the Daily Telegraph.
Konstantin Kisin is an award-winning Russian-British comedian, podcaster and writer. In 2018 he refused to sign a university “behavioural agreement form” which banned jokes about religion, atheism and insisted that all humour must be “respectful and kind”. He is also the creator and co-host of Triggernometry, a posdcast and YouTube show where comedians interview economists, political experts, journalists and social commentators about controversial and challenging subjects.
Kenan Malik is a British writer, lecturer and broadcaster. His main areas of interest are the history of ideas, philosophy of science, religion, politics, race and immigration. His books include The Meaning of Race (1996), Man, Beast and Zombie (2000) and Strange Fruit: Why Both Sides Are Wrong in the Race Debate (2008). He writes a column for The Guardian and the New York Times.
Xinran is a British–Chinese author, journalist and activist. Her first book, The Good Women of China, was published in 2002 and became an international bestseller. She has written two novels, Miss Chopsticks (2008) and The Promise (2018) and four other non-fiction books: Sky Burial, China Witness, Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother and Buy Me the Sky. She is an advocate for women’a issues and is a contributor to Index on Censorship magazine.