My sisters, my daughters, my friends, find your voice
Culver City, CA, USA
“Armed with a few small grants, a lot of heart, and a creative posse of power-women and girls, we have expanded from our first graduating class of 20 girls in Soweto, South Africa to over 90 trained girl reporters in Los Angeles, Chicago, South Africa, and Morocco.”
“To girls and women everywhere, I issue a simple invitation. My sisters, my daughters, my friends, find your voice.” -Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia
I love that the co-winners of last years’ Nobel Prize were all women, all from the non-Western world, and one is a professional journalist, Tawakul Karman. At 32 years old, she is also certainly one of the youngest ever to be awarded. I was so very moved by her acceptance speech! Here is an excerpt:
As I stand here…I see the great number of Arab women, without whose hard struggles and quest to win their rights in a society dominated by the supremacy of men I would not be here…this supremacy has caused a lot of injustice to both men and women. To all those women, whom history and the severity of ruling systems have made unseen, to all women who made sacrifices for the sake of a healthy society with just relationships between women and men, to all those women who are still stumbling on the path of freedom in countries with no social justice or equal opportunities, to all of them I say, Thank you.
I am the co-founder of the non-profit GlobalGirl Media, an educational NGO that empowers young women to find their voice through new media. Founded during the World Cup in South Africa in 2010, our mission is to celebrate and connect the voices of young women around the world through new media technologies that drive social change. Basically, we use journalism and new media to connect girls across cultures and boundaries, opening up new worlds and opportunities for girls who often feel trapped by socio-economics, culture, or circumstances.
We started as a group of filmmakers, journalists, and educators, mostly from the US, worn down by the woeful statistics of women in media. I don’t need to go further than a few of the most alarming (gleaned from www.womensmediacenter.org and www.iwmf.org):
- Women hold only 3% of clout positions in mainstream media
- Women make up just over a third of the full-time staff at daily newspapers; women of color represent only about 17% of all women working full-time.
- In Hollywood, women directors, writers, and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films totaled 15% in 2007
- The International Women’s Media Foundation’s “Global Report on the Status of Women in Media” found that 73% of the top management jobs are occupied by men compared to 27% occupied by women. Among the ranks of reporters, men hold nearly two-thirds of the jobs, compared to 36% held by women.
Armed with a few small grants, a lot of heart and a creative posse of power-women and girls, we have expanded from our first graduating class of 20 girls in Soweto, South Africa to over 90 trained girl reporters in Los Angeles, Chicago, South Africa and Morocco. We not only provide education and training in new media and citizen journalism, we are preparing the next generation of women to make quality media that matters. We encourage our young reporters to tackle tough issues.
In South Africa, our 2011 project trained 10 HIV-positive young women to report on life living with HIV, as well as drug abuse, violence against women, and rape. A short film has recently been compiled, weaving together some of these reports, and was screened to high school students on World AIDS Day in Soweto. As a result, several students came out about their status to their peers for the first time. Two South African GlobalGirls were also invited to the International AIDS Conference in DC to participate as panel speakers and to cover the event from their point of view, as HIV+ young women.
In Morocco, our team of GlobalGirls in four cities covered the National Parliamentary elections in November, 2011. A government mandate to elect more women to parliament was issued, but it became quite controversial when so many young people and women were boycotting the elections. Intrepid and unafraid of criticism, our reporters hit the streets to find out why young people had no confidence in these elections.
We just completed our first media training in Chicago, where girls covered stories on teen pregnancy, generational depression, sex trafficking, and classism.
GlobalGirls from our previous two trainings in Los Angeles just completed a six-part webisode series on reproductive rights and women’s health, which will air on Latino Public Broadcasting.
We hope that girls around the world continue to be inspired to share their stories, because we believe their voices have the power to change the world.
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The views and opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Peace X Peace.