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Louise Donovan

Louise Donovan is an award-winning reporter, working closely with the editorial team of Kenya’s largest newspaper, The Daily Nation, raising awareness of issues impacting women and exposing injustices. Louise manages The Fuller Project’s strategic partnership with The Daily Nation and teams up with Kenyan journalists to cross-publish stories in both African and international outlets.

A European Journalism Centre grantee in 2017 and 2018, Louise was named a ‘30 Under 30’ rising star by the Professional Publishers Association in 2019. That year, she also won the One World Media award for her India reporting. In 2020, Louise’s work examining the deadly consequences of curbing reproductive rights in Kenya was shortlisted for the Anthony Shahid Award for Journalism Ethics.

Louise’s groundbreaking reporting has taken her across the globe. In Kenya, she investigated the issue of dumped foetuses and how restricted access to prenatal care, contraception and reproductive services is leaving women in increasingly desperate situations. Her reporting shone a light on an often overlooked but growing problem.

She embedded with an all-female biker squad who fight sexual violence in Jaipur, North India for a story with ELLE UK. One year after the story’s publication, the local government rolled out seven further women-only police units, created over 400 jobs for female officers and dedicated nearly three-quarters of a million dollars to buy extra equipment. More recently, she reported on a Ugandan woman’s experience of domestic violence during Covid-19 restrictions, which led to a women’s organisation reaching out to offer the single mother support.

She reported on global migrant domestic workers in Saudi Arabia who were kicked out of employers’ homes during COVID-19 and detained unlawfully without regular access to food and water. The reporting, which was published on the front page of The New York Times International Edition, led to a raid on the agency and the women were repatriated Several of the women in the story told Louise that this reporting - and its subsequent impact - had saved their lives. She also reported on the collapse of the global garment industry during the pandemic, directly linking two women on each end of this crumbling supply chain: One in America and another some 10,000 miles away in Lesotho, both laid off when J.C. Penney filed for bankruptcy and closed 150 stores in the U.S. and limited orders from its global factories. The story was published by the Associated Press and picked up by more than 100 news outlets globally.

Previously the Deputy Digital Editor of ELLE UK, Louise edited the multiple award-winning Warrior series published in partnership with The Fuller Project. Louise’s work appears in outlets such as CNN, Guardian, Foreign Policy and The Telegraph.

Recent reporting by Louise: 

She Made Jeans for Americans. When They Stopped Shopping, She Turned to Sex Work – TIME

Violence Spikes As Myanmar Garment Workers Say Factories Are Colluding With the Junta – VICE World News

‘I’m one of them’: the FGM survivor providing a lifeline in Leeds – The Guardian

Female migrant workers and the families they support are being abandoned by the money-transfer industry  – Fortune Magazine

Exclusive: Workers in Factory That Makes Kate Hudson's Fabletics Activewear Allege Rampant Sexual and Physical Abuse – TIME

Coronavirus: Over 200% Surge In Links To Child Abuse Material Posted Online

Teams of undercover investigators tasked with identifying and removing webpages containing child abuse material have reported a massive spike.

Sex Workers’ Dilemma amid Covid-19

At 6:30pm every evening, Emelda Ngieno’s alarm clock buzzes her out of a deep sleep. As the sun sets, she gets up, throws on tonight’s chosen outfit and heads to her designated location: Pipeline, a…

Kenya’s Labor Market Wasn’t Made for a Pandemic

NAIROBI—For the past week, every morning, Akonya Shimeseru wakes up in her single-room home that she shares with her two children in Ongata Rongai, a town on the outskirts of Nairobi.

‘You Are Beautiful’: the Kenyan Beauty Parlour Serving Female Heroin Users

Naima Said stands back and studies her handiwork. “Not quite,” the self-taught beauty therapist mumbles, her forehead furrowed in frustration. Then she delicately dabs her client’s eyelid with a squishy makeup sponge. She’s not finished…

Meet Beauty Therapist Saving Female Heroin Addicts

Housed in the Reachout Centre Trust, which helps Mombasa residents fight drug addiction, it opened last year with a view to attracting more female users to its services that include HIV testing, counselling, methadone treatment…

The Movement Tackling Sexual Harassment at Kenya’s Universities

Diana perched on a brown bench in one of Nairobi University's large lecture theatres, twisting her fingers into pretzel-like shapes. She scanned the room. To her left, students waited eagerly to hear her story. To…

Gender Activists in a March Dubbed Usawa Demand Action Against GBV, Youth Empowerment, Women Land Rights

The march dubbed Usawa kicked-off at Uhuru Park’s freedom corner to President’s Uhuru Kenyatta’s office at Harambee House, where they delivered a petition on gender equality.

Trafficked Nepali, Indian Women Repatriated

Five women from Nepal and India who had been trafficked into the country were repatriated to their home countries this week.

One-Fifth of Women Don’t Know if Abortion Is Illegal in Kenya, New Study Shows

A new study by Marie Stopes Kenya showed that 20.7 per cent of women seeking abortion services in Nairobi “do not know” whether the process is illegal.

Meet University Student ‘Counting Dead Women’ Around Kenya

When she is not at university, Audrey Mugeni is updating her spreadsheet. Every month, she adds more names. In one column, a grim question needs answering: ‘What killed this woman?’

‘Dumped Babies Are Just the Tip of the Iceberg’: The Deadly Consequences of Curbing Reproductive Rights

Abortions are illegal in Kenya. Every day, 320 women are hospitalised – and seven die – as a result of dangerous ‘quack’ abortions in Kenya.

El Salvador Kills Women as the U.S. Shrugs

Washington helped start an epidemic of violence against women in Central America. Now it’s washing its hands of the problem.

‘Men Kill Women Because They Can’: Inside El Salvador’s Devastating Femicide Crisis

Inside El Salvador's devastating femicide crisis.

Dispatch From Jaipur: ELLE Embeds With India’s Female Motorbike Police

Sitting on the back of police motorcycles, we held onto the thin-framed women steering in front of us as we zoomed down Jaipur’s bustling streets. It was a bright, hot day in April, and we…

The Café Run Entirely By Acid Attack Survivors

In Agra, a stone’s throw from the Taj Mahal, a group of women are refusing to hide.

Rebels With A Cause: The All Female Motorbike Squads Tackling India’s Rape Problem

A woman is raped every 13 minutes in India. As the situation reaches desperate proportions, one police commissioner thinks there might be an answer.

Teaching boys that ‘real men’ would stop rape

Isaac, a 15-year-old boy, watched as a group of men grabbed a young girl. It was a bustling new year’s eve in Kibera, Kenya’s largest slum, and he knew she was in trouble. He also…
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