This article is first in a series on topics related to journalism, gender and leadership from Chicas Poderosas (“Powerful Girls” in English), a global community that promotes female leadership and generates knowledge to shape the future of the media. Follow Chicas Poderosas on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
“We rise by lifting others,” Robert Ingersoll wrote in the 19th century. For us, this is more than an inspirational quote printed on the stickers we distribute at events and gatherings held by our local chapters around the world. It’s a guiding principle of our work, it’s at the core of every project Chicas Poderosas takes on, and it’s what Chicas and mentors alike have in mind when joining our community.
It's the belief that by supporting, mentoring and sharing with others — or by coming together to create collaborative projects — we learn and grow as professionals in our field, and as persons. We become drivers of positive change and help empower other women.
I started Chicas Poderosas in 2013 as an ICFJ Knight Fellow, and the organization took off in 2015 when we trained ambassadors during an event at Stanford University. It began as a dream to provide female journalists, communications specialists and designers with the professional skills and connections to advance their careers and become leaders in the media industry. Over the last six years, our community grew into a global community of women from different ages, fields and backgrounds that is present in 18 countries, with a strong focus on Latin America.We reach thousands of women, from Mexico and Argentina to Portugal and the U.S. Our members have received awards and fellowships, started their own media projects and more.
To actually impact the future of media, and of society in general, we realized that our efforts should also be about supporting women who are daring to create independent media outlets. According to a Women’s Media Center report in January 2019, men produce more news and and occupy the vast majority of leadership positions at media companies. In a poll of women journalists in Argentina, conducted by Foro de Periodismo Argentino journalists’ association in 2018, 78 percent said most of their bosses were men while 15 percent said there was gender parity. Only seven percent said their bosses were mostly women.
Considering this inequality in production and leadership at existing media organizations, in 2017 we launched our New Ventures Lab, an accelerator for independent, women-led media outlets in Latin America. The lab provides mentorship and training for these media entrepreneurs to build their business models and develop their leadership skills. In the lab's first iteration, we supported 10 projects from Brazil, Ecuador and Peru, eight of which have since registered an intellectual patent.
For the second iteration, which started in January, we chose nine projects from Argentina, Mexico and Brazil. The teams are developing their pitches, business models and products, as they get ready for Demo Day. Demo Day marks the end of the 20-week incubation period that includes three immersive weeklong encounters in São Paulo, as well as online trainings and mentoring sessions. On June 6, they will present their proposals to potential investors and media leaders, showcasing the progress they made by working together and learning from each other.
These nine powerful teams are changing the media landscape in Latin America, generating social impact and creating new leadership models that are female-driven and collaborative, proving that we do, in fact, rise by lifting others.
- El Placer del Saber was born in Mexico to fight sexuality-related disinformation, break taboos and encourage youth to enjoy sexual pleasure with greater responsibility and awareness.
- AzMina was created to raise awareness and engage men and women in combating gender inequality and violence in Brazil.
- Filha da Mae was created amid a conservative climate that threatens access to sexual education in Brazil. This podcast will launch in May to provide an alternative source of information on sexuality with a women-focused, positive and fun approach.
- Beba began to address a gap in the media in Argentina — one that leaves out the voices of young people. Beba will provide them with a digital, feminist media outlet to read about the experiences of women and people from diverse sexual orientations.
- Casa Mãe was created to denounce the violence and social micro-aggressions experienced by single mothers in Brazil, and to give voice and dignity to their experiences.
- Eté Checagem was born to address the growing tide of rumors and mis- or disinformation that circulates online and in the media about human rights issues. It is the first human rights-focused verification project in this area in Brazil.
- Fiquem Sabendo was created to gather, analyze and spread impactful data, promote transparency and fight for access to information that can help society make better decisions and more effective public policies.
- Empathy was founded to provide a place for migrants and refugees to connect with people who want to help them as they adjust to life in Brazil.
- Modefica's goal is to involve the public in a new way of producing, consuming and organizing, in order to build a more sustainable society.
- Midia Makers was created to bring technology to the classrooms and transform each student and teacher into a media producer.
Main image of the 2019 Chicas Poderosas New Ventures Lab, courtesy of Chicas Poderosas.