From email@example.com Fri Jun 2 07:59:57 2000
Paper Gives Voice to Marginalised Women
By Néfer Muñoz, IPS, 31 May 2000
SAN JOSE, May 30 (IPS) - A group of women journalists in Costa Rica keen on knocking down stereotypes have launched an alternative newspaper targetting poor women in the countryside and marginalised urban areas. The paper comes out every 28 days, to symbolise the menstrual cycle.
The eight-page paper, 'Huella' or Footprint, is put out by a team of 10 independent women reporters who aim to provide a voice for women who feel ignored by the mass media.
The objectives of the women, all of whom have long experience in the field of communications and with gender issues, are to fight against sexism in journalism, create a product focused on the most vulnerable groups of women, and generate jobs for unemployed female journalists.
"Women account for a majority of reporters in many countries," journalist Thais Aguilar, one of the founders of 'Huella', told IPS. "We here in Costa Rica have organised ourselves to put out a newspaper that focuses on our interests."
The aim of the newspaper is to tackle all questions from a gender perspective, which will guide every step of the process, from the choice of issues covered, sources consulted, editorial policy, and graphic design, which tends to use more curves than straight lines, for example.
'Huella', which was launched in April, emerged from an August 1999 women's seminar and successive meetings, in which the women voted democratically on each decision taken, from the name of the newspaper to questions of editorial policy.
In Central America, the gender gap and gender discrimination are still reflected in daily life, and stand in the way of real equality between women and men, said the United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) 1999 State of the Region report, which stressed that men continued to enjoy better economic and social conditions than women.
The reporters who produce 'Huella' have also set up the group 'Asociaci¢n Luna Nueva' (the New Moon Association) with the aim of making contact with other women's newspapers throughout the Americas and to disseminate their work as an alternative publication.
The cover-page article in the first edition of 'Huella' was a report on midwives in rural Costa Rica. An interview with a midwife of the Boruca indigenous community raised the question of to what extent hospital births were merely seen as business by gynocologists.
"For now, all of us who work on this project do it as volunteers," the director of 'Huella', Mayela Rodr¡guez, told IPS. "We draw no salaries for our work."
So far, 'Huella' has been financed by donations, but the plan is for the paper to gradually finance itself.
Rodr¡guez lived for years in Colombia, where she studied journalism at the Javeriana University and worked as a reporter for the daily 'El Espectador'. Today she works as an investigative journalist focusing mainly on social issues and writing articles for Costa Rican magazines and other print media.
"We are working on consolidating this project, to be able to pay salaries to our team of female journalists," said Rodr¡guez, who added that the group was also organising a nationwide network of correspondents based on unemployed women journalists.
A recent International Labour Organisation (ILO) study found that although women in Central America had more years of schooling, they earned lower wages than men for the same work and had a harder time finding jobs.
One of the future projects of the association of female journalists is to post a newspaper on the Internet. The group can be reached at the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org. (END/IPS/tra-so/nms/ag/sw/00)
Origin: Montevideo/COMMUNICATION-COSTA RICA/
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