As a young journalist who has spent the majority of her career as a freelancer, I was drawn to IWMF because I wanted to become part of a community. I’ve often felt alone as a female freelancer while working in international news, which is still dominated by men. These past four years, I’ve felt like working outside the NYC/DC media bubble has cut me off from networking opportunities.
I thought that the problems I’ve faced in my career were unique to being a freelance journalist. But spending two weeks with a group of strong, female journalists has opened my eyes to bigger structural issues within our industry.
The gender pay gap is a big one. Female staffers and freelancers are offered less than our male counterparts, even when we contribute just as much, if not more, to newsrooms. In many ways, pay equality is the most obvious issue, but there are so many other issues in our industry that make it more difficult for women to succeed. Who assigns stories and who do they assign stories to? Why are some staff reporters given the opportunity to travel to chase a story while others are not? Why are some journalists given the chance to lead a news program while others are hired as support staff? Why are some voices in the newsroom valued more than others?
Bring together 12 hard-working female journalists facing these issues and it is easy to see that they deserve these opportunities. But it’s women, and women of color in particular, who often have these doors shut on them.
So after two weeks in Honduras, I’d like to say thanks to all the #badassfemalejournos of IWMF who inspired and supported me on this journey and who I know will continue to support me in the years to come. I hope that we continue to open the doors for each other in this industry. And if the doors don’t open, I know the women of the IWMF are ready to knock those doors down.
Valentina Pereda, Adelante Fellow, 2019 Honduras.