Over the past six months, 30 brave grassroots women have made the journey of a lifetime to become empowered leaders and loudspeakers for their communities. They have raised their voices on critical issues from the most forgotten regions in the world in order to bring awareness and their visions for change to life. From Syria to Argentina, India to Zimbabwe, we have witnessed tremendous courage to overcome barriers and speak unheard truths.
"We are on a path, maybe beating out a path, and while we may not know exactly what it's going to look like once we arrive, we know where we're headed and that we're going there together." 2012 Correspondent, Neema, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Working with our program partners the Global Press Institute, the Op-Ed Project and Sehrish Shaban, our staff trained the Correspondents on the principles of practicing ethical citizen journalism, including how to conduct an interview, write compelling frontline journals, feature stories, and op-eds, and how to use new media like Facebook, Twitter, Google, and mobile phones to support their social change work.
This year, we launched the first ever Digital Storytelling module, which introduced Correspondents to the basic principles of creating video and photo-slideshows, allowing them to bring their voices to a larger audience. Their heart-rending digital stories on malnutrition in India, violence in Syria, and politics in the Gambia broke new ground and gave voice to communities that are rarely heard beyond their own borders. Watch these stories here.
With the support of World Pulse Board member and renowned leadership trainer Ellen Wingard,we also launched our first World Pulse-branded mentoring framework to guide the Vision Mentors who are paired with each Correspondent to help her vocalize and activate her vision for change.
The third year of this program was a striking success with 100% of survey respondents reporting increased knowledge in citizen journalism, self-awareness, confidence, and empowered leadership.
“Writing for World Pulse has made a world of difference not only for me personally, but for so many other women and men who need my compassion and commitment to address and transform human suffering.” 2012 Correspondent, Zoneziwoh, Cameroon
MEDIA AND CITIZEN JOURNALISM
“World Pulse gives me the opportunity, education, and motivation for writing. WP let my voice be heard and help those around me to be heard as well. If we do not speak up for ourselves no one will know that we even exist." 2012 Correspondent, Duda, Serbia
- 9 Correspondents were invited to speak at an influential forum/event
- Nearly 50% of the Correspondents were published online or in print
- 7 Correspondents were featured on TV or radio
Women have been asked to present on topics like marginalized women’s rights, new media, and women’s health at local and national nonprofits, churches, and youth groups. Ikirimat from Uganda was invited to speak at the US Embassy in Kampala on maternal health by their Public Diplomacy Affairs department. Nasreenamina was the first Muslim woman to ever be invited to speak at the National University of Cordoba. She will be addressing the Congress of Gender Studies on the subject of stereotypes, images, and prejudices about Muslim women, and her personal experience as an activist and citizen journalist in this sector.
Correspondents have been published around the world, in both local and international publications including: Panos (UK), El Mundo (Spain), Gazetta Publica (Poland), The Weekend Leader (India), Salem News (US), and Sunday Vision (Uganda). Additionally, the Huffington Post will be featuring stories from the Correspondents in their Global Motherhood section.
“I feel confident that I am reporting about health issues to strengthen the image of nursing in my country and remind policymakers that there is still work to do, to achieve HEALTH FOR ALL in 2015.” 2012 Correspondent, Okeny-Lucia, Kenya
Correspondents are also making their debuts in radio, television, and film. Okeny-Lucia was featured as the main character in a film being created by the Aga Khan University in Kenya in partnership with Swedish filmmaking firm on her achievements as a nurse. And Juliette Maughan from Barbados was featured by a Washington, DC-based radio show focused on the Caribbean diaspora.
These incredible women are breaking barriers of silence and recognizing the power of their voices as increasing numbers of influential organizations and media outlets seek them out.
FUNDING, AWARDS, JOBS
“I am a journalist from the conflict-ridden Northeast region of India. Even six months ago, I was struggling to get space in media, my life was all about rejections and isolation. I faced rejection because I wrote about poverty, malnutrition, witchcraft, domestic violence… Then, in November I became selected as a Voice of the Future correspondent by World Pulse. And it did magic. It transformed my life. From isolation, I was propelled to a world of global connections where my stories and my problems were read and shared by women in 185 countries. This isn't all: From rejections and no work, World Pulse helped me get flooded with work offers—on the same ‘non-issues’!” 2012 Correspondent, Stella Paul, India
- 9 Correspondents were hired by the Global Press Institute, bringing our three-year total to 20 Correspondents!
- 8 Applied for an award/fellowship
- 1 Secured a political position
- 2 Secured civil society/non-governmental leadership positions
- 4 Applied for a grant/funding
More Correspondents than ever before have received jobs, and they credit the Voices of Our Future Program as being key to their successes. Lymalin from Cambodia is now working for the Korean Embassy in Phnom Penh and Nasreenamina has been hired by a local Argentine media outlet.
They have also received several awards and scholarships, including Stella Paul from India, who received the prestigious Climate Change Media Partnership fellowship sponsored by Internews, Panos, and IIED. She was the only journalist selected from India. Celine from Nigeria was given a scholarship to attend a training on human rights in Brazil and Indonesia, and Neema from the Democratic Republic of the Congo received a full scholarship to attend Mobility International’s leadership training program in Eugene, Oregon.
ACTIVISM AND EMPOWERMENT
“I have to give World Pulse so much credit for revealing to me what I couldn't imagine was lying dormant, just below the surface. Sure, I had the passion and the drive and the dreams, but this program brought definition not only to my purpose, but my right and even my capacity to pursue it.” 2012 Correspondent, Neema, Democratic Republic of the Congo
- 2 Founded their own organization
- 7 Started a grassroots campaign
- 6 Joined a grassroots campaign
- 4 Applied for or were accepted to a University program
- Nearly 2/3 of Correspondents felt empowered to stand up for themselves in their homes and communities and felt empowered to stand up for someone else
One of the most powerful impacts of Voices of Our Future that we’ve seen and the Correspondents themselves have identified is the increased sense of self-confidence and leadership. With their newfound sense of empowerment, they have found the courage to move forward with their visions and have dusted off old dreams.
Celine in Nigeria has founded an NGO for women with disabilities; Juliette Maughan in Barbados has started her own social enterprise that focuses on women’s sexual empowerment and reproductive health, which was featured by UNAIDS; and MaDube in Zimbabwe started a grassroots campaign to raise awareness on issues of human trafficking in her country.
Women are often marginalized in decision making processes by external forces, but they also sometimes choose to opt out due to a lack of confidence. Voices of Our Future is working to restore that confidence so that Correspondents can take leadership roles and share their solutions with a world that is in desperate need of their voices. Their words speak for themselves:
“My self-esteem was reinforced to defend my values and rights, and also others' rights. I never was silent for the grievances which me or others endured, but my voice now is magnified.” 2012 Correspondent, Hummingbird, Syria
“Having a voice and communicating it to the whole world gave me more confidence in my life.” 2012 Correspondent, Mirette, Egypt
“I feel strong, empowered, and courageous. Each member of my family feels proud of what I have achieved and my siblings want my nephews and nieces to become like me when they grow up. For me, this is the greatest personal achievement of mine.” 2012 Correspondent, Stella Paul, India
VISION MENTORS AND EDITORIAL MIDWIVES
“As a mentor in the Voices of Our Future program, I have personally been transformed by the privilege to work with global grassroots leaders who are thriving, empowered, confident channels of solutions-based leadership. As a fellow mentor who works in a global university said, ‘It is one thing to create a powerful curriculum in a university for a woman student, it is another thing for her to actually learn how to find her voice.’ World Pulse has made this possible." 2012 Vision Mentor, Ellen Wingard, USA
Mentors and Midwives are an integral part of the program. Year after year, we’ve seen that the impact of this relationship is not a one-way street. These amazing women volunteers have been empowered to leave dead-end jobs, renew old passions to work in the field of women’s empowerment, and become more educated on issues from refugees in Syria to breast ironing in Cameroon. Nearly a third of the Mentors and Midwives have returned after their first year, despite the significant time and energy commitment required to act as a key support to one woman activist for five and a half months.
World Pulse Live
A special congratulations to Hummingbird, Stella Paul, and Neema who were selected to represent the 2012 Correspondents and our larger online community at the World Pulse Live media and speaking tour events this September and October. These three women will be traveling with the World Pulse team to New York, NY, Washington, D.C, Atlanta, GA, and Portland, OR to share their experiences with you. Make sure to keep an eye on our blog and Facebook page for further details this summer!
Looking Forward to 2013
The fourth cycle of Voices of Our Future will be launching in March 2013. We are excited to continue offering our unique training program that equips grassroots women leaders with the skills they need in citizen journalism, new media, and empowerment to actualize and vocalize their visions for change.