This week at Progressio we're getting very excited about the Guardian's International Development Journalism competition awards taking place on Thursday (22 November). The competition was run earlier this year for both amateur and professional journalists interested in development work. We took part in the competition because it was a great opportunity to get the voices of the people we work with out to an international audience.

Rob Trask was shortlisted in the amateur category with a fantastic article about the need for more widespread access to education in poor countries. Maternal mortality was the theme of Charlotte Maugham's poignant entry to the Guardian competition which saw her shortlisted amongst other professional journalists.

We were delighted that the themes sponsored by Progressio, of women's rights and people’s response to climate change in poor countries, received the highest amount of entries!

Finalists won a trip to visit the programmes and partners of the charities sponsoring the competition. Whilst Rob travelled to Malawi to write about the role of faith in responding to HIV, Charlotte flew off in the other direction landing (eventually) in Timor-Leste where she wrote about how women are challenging inequality and participating in development. The features they wrote will be published in the Guardian as special supplements on Monday 26 and Wednesday 28 November, they will also be available online.

In Malawi, Rob met Yesaya, the head of a village, who has HIV. Rob reported that, "Yesaya's openness about his status has allowed others within his community to follow suit; get tested and live with the results. With such a pivotal figure in the community openly discussing his HIV positive status, any signs of stigma or discrimination quickly evaporate."

Charlotte encountered many amazing women in Timor-Leste challenging the inequality they face every day, none more so than Domingas Tilman who runs a safe-house for victims of domestic abuse. The way forward, according to Domingas, involves "Changing attitudes about domestic violence through rigorous law enforcement and social awareness campaigns. Education in schools, churches and families is also vital to reduce domestic violence."

Their trips proved to be fascinating experiences for both Rob and Charlotte, who wrote brilliant blogs about their time with Progressio partners. 

But we couldn't just send them off on their own - so Lis Martin, Progressio’s Environment Policy and Advocacy Officer accompanied Rob and has written about the insights she gained into how people are managing water and trying to become more resilient to climate change in Malawi and Zimbabwe. Progressio's Communications Officer, Lucy Jenkinson, went with Charlotte to Timor-Leste and has written about domestic violence and how Progressio's partners are achieving real change

This Thursday the overall winner of the competition will be announced... we're keeping our fingers crossed!

Photo: Charlotte Maugham looks out over Locoliu village in Timor-Leste (Taken by Lucy Jenkinson).