Isabel Gonzales is Colombian. Cristina Arboleda is Ecuadorian. After years of experience working in big media they met and decided to approach journalism with a different logic: talking about issues that are still secondary in newsrooms. They are part of the Editoriales Especiales project, which is dedicated to journalistic stories about gender and inequality. Today, we share with you our conversation with these two amazing leaders!
“Gender journalism is not a journalism necessarily done by women. It is journalism that works on inequality, that is aware of what each story implies for women and men”, explains Isabel, who currently lives in Ecuador.
Their reports and investigations for Editoriales Especiales have addressed four key topics:
- How women access the justice system in Ecuador, Colombia and Peru.
- The hidden wound of sexual violence in educational centers; their investigation highlighted this issue in Ecuador.
- Inequality of women in culture and education. Although there are many women scientists, they still represent a minority in that field.
- Twenty years of decriminalization against homosexuality. Until 1997, homosexuality was considered a crime in Ecuador.
Currently, the project works within the Sentimos Diverso website, but they are looking for independence. Isabel and Cristina together answered Chicas’ questions about their project.
What is the best way to tell these stories?
Find a middle ground between activism and the interests of the general public. We have used formats such as comics, visual data, and narrative journalism, relying on a common language to create empathy and explain what those issues mean without preconceptions.
We report on public-interest issues to mobilize people and alert them on how to defend their rights. Our approach is regional, with information from Ecuador, Peru and Colombia.
How can you talk about these issues without putting people at risk?
We use tools from anthropology to build trust. We have built a process that acknowledges that the times we live in are different and, thanks to activism, the treatment of victims is different. Our method of avoiding re-victimization and building ties of trust allows us investigate.
How difficult or easy is it to undertake this initiative in Ecuador?
It is very difficult. We have learned that there are very high walls. If you are Latino and also if you are a woman, the walls seem higher. It may not seem difficult, but it is a matter of perception.
This has been the year in which independent women’s projects in Ecuador have begun to emerge. It’s very important that one project to be established, leading the way so others can follow.
Also, In the Ecuadorian context, journalism operated under extreme censorship for 10 years during the government of Rafael Correa. Nowadays, there is an intention to do more investigative journalism with less fear of censorship, but we are still missing a network of investigative reporters to provide sustainability.
What do you expect to gain from the New Ventures Lab?
We hope to build a support network and to learn. We have always relied heavily on collaborative work. We want to learn about new tools and understand their limits. Above all, we want to eliminate the fear of making mistakes.
We’ve never had the chance to let go of that fear.
Without a doubt, that has to do with being women. For women it has always been more difficult, not because they do not have talents, but because society has built walls that are harder to jump. The story of the world has been told without the participation of women and we have become accustomed to that silence. We came to the NVL to seek help so we can talk about what happens to women.