Why I want us to curate women's stories more

Edinah
Posted April 21, 2017 from Zimbabwe

As an advocate for women being heard, I find myself between a rock and hard place sometimes. Because, I want more women’s voices and women themselves in the media, but I don’t want them presented as a piece of meat or showing them in violent images as a manoeuvre to sell news and not as a human rights issue.

It is funny because advocacy for the objective portrayal of women has been going on for some time now but the problem is still here if not getting worse. In this age of social media and individual content generation, we need to curate real and truthful women’s stories now more than ever. Because the profit-driven media has bombarded us with stereotypical images of women. And citizen journalists have taken the stick and run wild with it. We are constantly told how beautiful women should look as opposed to all women are beautiful. We are created differently and there is beauty in that diversity.

Technology has brought with it new challenges for media activists like myself. There are two things when it comes to women and the media: (1) women don’t usually get featured as experts or analysts because of course there are men in positions of power and influence and therefore qualified by position to comment as experts, (2) when women get featured, emphasis is put on their bodies and not their intellectual capabilities most of the time.

We must flood the internet with our own stories. Told on our own terms. By us.

My online campaign, #AllWomenAreRoleModels and #StrongerForGirls, focuses on highlighting women and their diverse strengths and INDIVIDUAL AND UNIQUE SUCCESSES. These stories don’t normally make the news as they are not considered newsworthy.

”It is not often that we are able to hear stories from women themselves in major news and media outlets. Instead, what we are left with is the shadow of one kind of truth. That is, what we learn about women is one-dimensional—it flattens and diminishes the reality and experiences of the women… However, more often than not, media related to women is exploitative; it victimizes the women, represents them for outside consumption and hardly sheds light on the actual, diverse realities of women […]” – Gender Across Borders.

This is what makes me sick and tired of profit-driven media and their news not reporting women objectively. I want to change that. And my campaign is part of my effort to transform this reality. On wefsa.org, women get to speak their successes, their challenges and the way they rise from those challenges to successes. This gets to make news and be read around the world.

This story was submitted in response to Share On Any Topic.

Comments 4

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Jill Langhus
Apr 21, 2017
Apr 21, 2017

Hi Edinah. I'm so glad you are a media activist. The world needs clones of you. I will share your story on FB and Twitter so that people are aware of your work and wefsa.org. Thanks for all that you do and for sharing your post.

WorldCare
May 09, 2017
May 09, 2017

Hello Edinah, It is good that you have the digital and online abilities. You can see how word can be spreaqd so far with this media. I congratulate you for your work in this area. And, yes, getting women's stories out there is vital. Even right now here in the U.S. we have an all men's group to discuss the government health program for women! This is preposterous. Many women are rising up about it. You keep up your good work. Progress is made every day, even though you might not see it in front of you!

Sincerely,

WorldCare

rachel_2
Dec 04, 2017
Dec 04, 2017

I'm glad to see the campaigns you are leading, Edinah. You are so right that we need to see more stories from women, and women featured as experts and authorities. Along with Alyson Hallett, I have been putting together an anthology of poems by women, some specially written in response to our request that women 'speak of themselves'. It will be published next year and I hope is exactly what you are talking about! Thank you for the work you're doing - it benefits everyone, including men.

With love,

Rachel B

Wendy Stebbins
Jan 21, 2018
Jan 21, 2018

Bwangi Edinah,

I just found you and watched your video and read all I could with great interest and motivation. I will definitely write a story for you. I live in Chicago, Illinois but I spend a lot of time (4 times a year) in Livingstone Zambia where I have an NGO called I AM ONE IN A MILLION. When in Chicago I am online doing life lessons with my kids in Livingstone. It started out to help street orphans and vulnerable children in this undeveloped/developing country. I looked for kids (Grade 7 to start) who still had a good brain. As you know many do not due to malnutrition at birth and early years. Now I have one graduated from the University of Zambia, several in that university, 2 in med school and several who are taxi drivers. My goal is to get kids above the poverty level and have them stay there. My method is a little different. What you are doing is absolutely wonderful, needed and I love your warmth and energy at the same time. Your eyes say it all, that you have found your soul purpose. There are so so many things besides education that have to line up in order for a person to be a success in my and your population. I am very involved, expect a lot from the kids, put them daily in situations they were never in before, like a shower, at a dining table at a 5 star restaurant, being around well educated people from different countries, dressing sharp, or just following me around to see how people normally act and make decisions. What I have are human beings who look and act responsibly, intelligent and well-bred. I think just having girls or boys follow you around day after day to see how you act, make decision, set and do daily goals, go through a grocery line, or anything is a huge teaching aid. They want to rise to the occasion. And I know for sure each has to have a vision of something beyond their hut and poverty. I am so happy to see that you are reaching out and want the ideas of others. I will definitely write more after I have thought about it. I see this goal of yours and mine as an umbrella. You cannot say education is the answer, you cannot say one thing or two will be the answer. An umbrella has many spokes that keep it open. Each spoke is necessary. And grooming a human being for greatness, to get above the poverty level means there are many factors that need to be addressed and practiced, many spokes. Keep up the good work. You are so so inspiring..A focus for me is to teach boys how to treat girls/women. To make meals for them and serve them, always say "ladies first" when we are going into a place or eating, And really learning by doing how to appreciate girls/women as their equal.