On July 16, 2013, WVN Executive Director Heidi Basch-Harod met with the 2013 Global Girl Media (GGM) Summer Academy at the RFK Community Schools in Los Angeles, California. Global Girl Media is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to empowering high school age girls from under-served communities around the world through media, leadership, and journalistic training to have a voice in the global media universe and their own futures. According to the GGM’s website, the organization “grew out of a coalition of women broadcasters and journalists who recognized that mainstream reporting focuses on violence, celebrity or disaster, while the everyday experience and voice of the invisible majority, particularly young women, passes silently under the radar. With the explosion of social media networking and user-generated content on the web, the fact remains that this media is only open to those who have access to these technologies, leaving many youth, especially young girls in at-risk or impoverished communities, falling hard into the digital divide.”
Global Girl Media addresses this disparity by supplying the equipment, education, and support necessary to help young women become digital and blog journalists, bringing their own unique perspective on their lives, their communities, and world events to the global web and social media community. GGM firmly believes that working with young women around the world to find and share their authentic voice is an investment in our global future. Women’s Voices Now absolutely agrees!
Basch-Harod led a discussion called, “Finding Your Power and Keeping It,” which focused on the definition of power, how it is used – in positive and negative ways, and the necessity of obtaining some measure of power in order to stay true to one’s path. In the case of the GGM girls, the path of being heard and using 21st century technology to help their voices influence their communities is the kind of power they are aiming to gain. Taking it one step further, Basch-Harod and the GGM girls discussed the importance of cultivating the confidence and belief in oneself, as well as gathering the necessary tools to keep that power in the face of adversity, challenge, or a general lack of support.
As part of the presentation, Basch-Harod screened a short-documentary film, The Path to Follow(Afghanistan, 2010), by Nazifa Zakizadu, from the 2011 WVN film festival, Women’s Voices from the Muslim World. In this 11-minute documentary, Zakizadu follows a group of Afghani teenage girls to and from their Tae Kwon Do class, which they started just prior to the fall of the Taliban. In the film, the girls talk about the familial and societal challenges to their unconventional choice of hobby, which brings some of them to other countries for international Tae Kwon Do competitions. From the film the audience witnesses the power these girls gain from learning martial arts, as well as the support they give to each other to keep showing up to practice. For the GGM girls, the parallels to their lives were only too obvious, as some of them have to deal with and navigate the family pressures or other teenage temptations that may steer them away from the focused paths they have chosen as students in the Global Girl Media Summer Academy.
Women’s Voices Now is grateful to have had the opportunity to meet and interact with these inspiring young women of Los Angeles, and hope that they find and keep their power, and stay true to their work and their aspirations!
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