This summer I had the privilege of attending The Women’s Media Center’s Progress Girls Voices, the premier media and leadership training program for girls in the country. Founded in 2005 as a non-profit progressive women’s media organization by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem, The Women’s Media Center makes women visible and powerful in the media. They work to ensure that women’s stories are told and women’s voices are heard through media advocacy campaigns, media monitoring for sexism, creating original content, and training women and girls to participate in media.
This experience and training has taught me how to construct and spread my message and how I can best leverage change. My favorite part of the program, however, was meeting 10 other inspiring and motivated young women who are working to make women’s stories and voices heard in the media and in their communities. Together we received training and tools to position ourselves as media spokespeople in our fields, thereby changing the conversation on issues that are important to us. I learned how to develop my message so that I can deliver a clear and powerful call to action and how to use social media to leverage those media opportunities. I even learned what to wear and what not to wear on camera! In addition we heard from young feminists who are working to get their voices and other feminists’ voices heard in the media. My most important take away was how important it is to “own your expertise” and not be afraid to put yourself out there whether it be on camera or through an op-ed piece. We cannot wait for others to change the media landscape for women, we must begin to change it ourselves.
Throughout the three days, we worked with Chris Jahnke, media trainer and founder of Positive Communications, who has helped women prepare for public appearances, including First Lady Michelle Obama for her International Olympic Committee speech. We also met many of the wonderful WMC’s staff members including Jamia Wilson, Madeleine Gyory, and Elisa Kreisinger. I left the training feeling empowered to continue a call to action for teen girls to help close the gender inequality gap in education for our sisters around the world. I never considered myself “qualified enough” to share my message past my school environment, but with the tools and training I received at Progressive Girls’ Voices, I know that if I fight hard enough with others who are fighting the same battle, our voices can and will be heard.
I am forever grateful for the opportunity to participate in this program, and I know that whatever road I chose to take in life, this program will leave a lasting impression.