The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has appointed its first female general secretary, naming Brazilian journalist Elisabeth Costa as its new general secretary.

Costa will replace Aidan White, who will stand down from the IFJ at the end of March after 24 years in the role, according to an announcement of Costa's formal endorsement by the organisation yesterday.

She was the unanimous choice from a "strong field of candidates" interviewed in Brussels last month, the IFJ said.

"I welcome the appointment of Elisabeth Costa as the new General Secretary," IFJ president Jim Boumelha says in the announcement.

"This is the first time in the history of the IFJ that its General Secretary comes from outside Europe. It is also the first time that the IFJ is led by a woman. This is indeed proof of the impact of the change and recognition of the IFJ a truly global federation of unions."

Costa has worked as a broadcast journalist in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo for more than twenty years, the IFJ reports, and served as president of the Brazilian Federation of Journalists' Associations (FENAJ) from 1998 to 2004 and a member of the IFJ Executive Committee from 2001 to 2004.

"The IFJ is in a transition to a more inclusive organisation which empowers its regions in its work and representation," Costa added in the announcement.

"I look forward to implementing the resolutions from the World Congress in Cadiz and to further strengthen the reach of the IFJ as a global voice of journalists."

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 members in 125 countries and works to defend press freedom internationally via journalism trade unions across the globe.

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