The idea behind this training is to inform young women about media and their role in society. In other words, to empower them with the knowledge of how they can use both traditional and modern media (newspapers, radio, tv, internet) to get their voices out there. Why does this matter? It seems self-explanatory when one peruses media: images of women lack diversity and are often demeaning. In fact, we discussed how the media portrays women from inner-cities, and this is almost always negative, it was agreed upon. (Watch this trailer for Miss Representation to get a sense of the injustice currently perpetrated on women by mainstream media.)
As WMW’s Georgia Love stated: “We are trying to make women’s voices much more audible using media. When we get all those experts on TV, we want them to be women. We need young women to see experts in the media, and we need to see young women as capable. This is not just a question of justice, we believe this is the right thing.”
Cordel Green, one of the few males in attendance and head of the Broadcasting Commission, relayed the same sentiment: “It is important for women in society to demand, claim and assert their own voices in the media.”
The ceremony welcomed a few dozen girls from high schools across Jamaica and their energy is infectious and hopeful. They participated in a panel discussion, pondering such questions as how the media misrepresents young women, how they can do a better job of portraying young women’s lives more accurately, why they think young women need to be represented in the media and what barriers remain for young women.
The answer to the latter question, according to one young woman, was the following: “Some men want to abuse their power so that they take the ideas given by women so that they get all the props.”
Another challenge related to how young women are portrayed in the media is the fact that they are stereotyped all too frequently, said another young woman. “It is a male-dominated society and they want to put us in a shell. We are supposed to be caretakers, nurturers, wives. We want to make sure that if there’s a plan to put forward, we are involved.” This was said by a young woman named Naneka Williams. She is still a high school student but has already become an entrepreneur, and in fact gave out samples of her delicious popcorn at the event.
The panel also included input from Empress Golding, a media personality who has paved her own way with a talk show called Talk Up Yout. She had the crowd entranced with her story of how she has succeeded in a male-dominated industry with her own talk show, which is run by all women. Talk Up Yout is a show dedicated to discussing issues faced by Jamaica’s young people in an uncensored forum. It is currently in its fourth season and has achieved high ratings. Golding is an inspiring presence and an example of how to persevere despite daunting challenges.
As I started out by saying in this post, if you are concerned about the future, please spend some time with young people. With the young women who were present at last night’s event in charge, Jamaica would be in capable, energetic and brilliant hands.