Wendy Garcia is visiting her friend, Alexis, in her home. At 14, Alexis Lopez looks more like a sister than a mother to her one-and-a-half year old daughter, who she bathes, changes and plays with. “I got pregnant at age 12,” Lopez tells Garcia. “At first, I didn’t know what to do.” As a reporter for GlobalGirl Media, Wendy was able to share her friend’s story and in turn, illustrate the stories and struggles of the 400,000 teenage girls who give birth every year in the United States.
GlobalGirl Media empowers high school-age girls from underserved communities around the world through “media, leadership and journalistic training to have a voice in the global media universe.” Co-founded in 2010 by Amie Williams and Meena Nanji, GGM has trained more than 120 global girl reporters in new media and citizen journalism, encouraging them to be fearless feminists, activists and producers of quality media.
This past year, GGM worked with Wendy and other young women in Los Angeles to create a six-webisode series called “COMO AMAR” (How to Love), focusing on sex trafficking, rape culture, body image, fake clinics, teen pregnancy and health education. The young women who created the videos are all high school or college students. As women make up a mere 18 percent of behind-the-scenes roles in the film industry as a whole, programs like GlobalGirl Media create much-needed opportunities for women to get behind the camera and in front of their stories.
GGM reporters are definitely realizing the power of their own voices. El Camino College student Imani Crenshaw, who reported on media representations of body image for her webisode, said she can “walk taller” thanks to GGM and that the program has given her the strength and confidence to make her voice heard. UC Santa Cruz freshman Garcia, who reported on teen pregnancy and health education (her video won first runner-up at ConnectHer’s Girls Impact The World Film Festival), said that GGM has taken her to places she’s never been before and has inspired her to study film and become a cinematographer. High-schooler Ariana Seymour, who reported on the growth of sex trafficking in California, said this experience has shown her how important her voice is, and she wants other girls to look for opportunities to get involved and speak up.
GGM hopes to “expand exponentially” and to change the way we create and consume news, as well as change how women are perceived in the media. According to Amie Williams, a camera can be a feminist’s “gun”. Williams wants every girl to understand the power of sharing her own unique perspective on her life, her community and world events with a global web and social media community. No matter what age, we should never underestimate the power and strength of our voices.
Photo via GlobalGirl Media