Girls Reshaping the MediaMarch 20, 2013
Media. We’re surrounded by it every day — images, sound bites, a radio playing in the background at the office. When it’s all around us all the time, how can we find a way to make sure that we’re getting the right messages and learning about what’s really important? This is especially challenging for young people, who still have much to learn about ourselves, society, and our role in it.
Many AAUW Community Action Grant recipients have tackled issues of media representation and alternative messaging, and two recent grantees are working to make sure that girls are able to speak in their own voices about their experiences. Barbara Wiener (2006–07), executive director of TVbyGIRLS, and Amie Williams (2012–13), executive director of GlobalGirl Media, are creating new ways to interact with the larger landscape of digital media. Their projects give girls the tools, confidence, and supportive communities needed to make their stories heard. We heard from Wiener and Williams about their organizations and the work they do to promote girls’ healthy interaction with media.
“We want to get the work of girls more actively into the world,” says Wiener. She has certainly worked hard toward that goal. Girls make and share videos on the website on topics ranging from expressing personal feelings to addressing larger social issues, and an accompanying blog celebrates female filmmakers and stories from the TVbyGIRLS community. The site has received positive reviews and awards for videos like Twisted, which spotlights teen dating violence, and What’s with the Hijab?, a critique of religious stereotypes. Wiener says that next they will be delving into issues like teen pregnancy prevention, immigration, bullying, and family and sibling relationships. “Collaboration, unique voices supported, and innovative ideas cross-culturally developed … those are the partnership models that work, and we hope to see them more integrated into the wider community,” says Wiener. “We believe we can help shape a better world. And we keep working at it. AAUW’s support of that makes it possible.”
At GlobalGirl Media (GGM), the unique voices of girls from South Africa, Morocco, and the United States come together. Using digital media to “empower young women to bring their often overlooked perspectives, GGM empowers girls to make media that matters, improves news literacy, and encourages the promotion of community media and coproducing that informs, engages, and challenges its audience to action.” Williams and GGM seek to find and share the “authentic voice” of young women around the world in order to bring more diversity into media outlets. Girl reporters from across the globe give their own take on current affairs, health and the environment, arts and culture, and human rights. Their stories resonate. They are personal, compelling, and well-executed. It is inspiring to find such a wealth of information and opinions from young women reporters.
During this week of Women’s History Month, challenge yourself to find some new voices in the media. You’ll be surprised at what’s out there just beneath the mainstream.
Keep up the great work, GlobalGirl Media and TVbyGIRLS!