Ana Muñoz does many things to pay the bills while she thinks about how to make her hobby profitable for books, bars and breakfasts. She was a finalist for the 2017 Nuevas Plumas Award, a project of the Escuela de Periodismo Portátil in collaboration with the University of Guadalajara. Lucia Chuquillanqui describes herself as a feminist, does not like to write, watches a movie a day, and one day plans to rule the world. Estefani Campana can draw your portrait with her eyes closed while draining a gin and tonic. She loves cats and always wanted to be one of the models of 20th century Austrian artist Egon Schiele. Natalia Sánchez always uses her left pinkie when she writes on the keyboard. She reads the future with the pendulum and hates feet. She won an Oxfam-FNPI 2017 fellowship to write about inequality. Their incredible talents and personalities are the forces behind Malquerida, a media platform in Spanish created entirely by women.
Their superpowers: persistence, a kind of stubbornness to improve their learning and intuition skills, and putting the two together to open the mind over the years. We spoke with the Malquerida team about their journalism environment, the role of women in Peru and the expectations they have about the New Ventures Lab. Today we share our conversation with the team who is in Lima (Peru):
Ana Muñoz: Malquerida was born because we realized that in the media, specifically in South America, the decision makers are men. “The supposed objectivity of journalism is an objectivity filtered by the patriarchy, totally andro-centrist, and the themes of women or the type of magazines that they reserve for us are fashion magazines, cosmetics about gossip – topics that are very good and in fact I love them – but they work in a very superficial way. They treat us as if we were stupid, while for them, there are wonderful magazines like Esquire that have more depth.
So we wanted to create this space that was only for women. First, because men already have hundreds of spaces and we do not. And then because we also wanted it to be a safe space in which the women knew that other women were going to read them, that other women were going to edit them, that the illustrations were made by women and that all the work was going to be in this situation of security and trust.
In Malquerida, we have been working from our place in the world. So, there are stories that we can all touch – all the themes and stories. But sometimes because of our place in the world, there are certain stories that only women can tell, just as there are stories that can be told better by a man, because they have more access to other places.
An example we feel very proud to show is the story Cama Adentro, for which Natalia Sánchez, the other editor of Malquerida, received the Oxfam – FNPI scholarship. She analyzes the situation of domestic workers in Peru. She also talks about how she personally confronts that situation and the inequality between women. What does it mean for the domestic worker in Peru to have a female boss, a superior woman and what is that relationship like and all that transversality and inequality crossed by intersectionality?
Obviously a man can perfectly analyze the situation of domestic workers in Peru, but will not know how a woman perceives this inequality. I always use this example because it seems to me that it is a good illustration of what we are trying to do in Malquerida.
We touch a little more on literary topics, from reviews to personal essays and this makes an arc with topics of journalism. We give a lot of importance to the voice of women and their circumstances in the world because we do not want to lose all that talent of Spanish-speaking and Latin American women who often do not find another place to publish so many stories.
What is your biggest challenge with Malquerida?
The sustainability. Media and communication are not an easy sector, especially if independence is at the center of their identity. On one hand, there is precariousness, on the other, the difficulties of choosing a sponsor aligned with Malquerida’s gender commitment.
However, we also foresee the advantages of digital media and their ability to transcend any traditional medium. There are other challenges. We need to maintain the quality of our stories, improving our research skills and editorial standards. For this purpose, we need to reach more writers, and we must be able to finance several months of work. We know that we have improved since our first history – in addition to increasing our public, we have received recognition twice in 2017 – but we can not relax our efforts. In addition, making the writing and journalistic work of women more visible means that someone – the more, the better -– reads them. The way we are willing to contribute to closing the gender gap in the media is creating a safe space for stories about women, by women. This space needs to expand by expanding our public and achieving a position in which we support the main media. Finally, we do not want to stop here. We want to extend our activities to education about journalism for women in low income areas in Latin America, starting in Peru; and also to provide journalists with tools to shorten the gender gap, both in their stories and in newsrooms.
The way we are willing to contribute to closing the gender gap in the media is creating a safe space for stories about women, by women.
What are the lessons learned for those who have undertaken this effort?
Lucia Chuquillanqui: I think it is taking into account the different people that you are dedicating the project. Our focus is girls who want to write, have some type of training. That was our public, for them we work and they are the ones who receive editorial and graphic support. But I have realized that there are also others that can be my potential foundations or interested.
It is important to ask the question: What other people would be interested in this? It is a very simple question but sometimes not so easy to answer. And doing the exercise does not only mean thinking about it, but also systematizing it, systematizing information, the process we have had of the project, because that is ultimately our value.
We are very happy with support and sorority with other women. It is an ideal world, there was no difference if the stories are written by men or women. In a world where we all have the same experiences and opportunities we would have the same article. This makes the project exist. Every time I confirm it more, because I have to explain less why the project.
Now we have to capitalize on it. There are people who love the project. They are very excited. And we know that we offer something that is based on the complementary relationship we have with other women. But at the same time, we need to know how to show them what we can offer them.
Taking into account that the business world is still very masculine, in what way does the topic you propose seem disruptive?
It’s hard and it is still a long way. There are many people focused on government issues. There are few women who get up and say: I want to make money! There are many people who have criticized that we focus on getting respect and recognition through prizes. But that is our strategy. If I do not have recognition, sometimes I do not have the opportunity to be sustainable. The experience of Natalia Sánchez is the experience we want to replicate. Natalia has had a transformation as a journalist, as a researcher and as an example of what can be done.
Many people think that we have a lot of money but no. I wish! Some of us have grown up in difficult neighborhoods but we have made the path of education. We know about the gap and that is why we try to bring girls who have had experiences similar to ours.
How is the New Ventures Lab an opportunity to achieve its goals?
We apply to many things but when we saw that applications we felt it was for us. It was a match! We realized that there is someone else who is thinking about projects like that and that is comforting. We know that we have a successful model on the one hand but we have to diversify it, evaluate it and be sustainable with the NVL.
It is the first task of many journalistic projects, I am aware of that, but there is something different that we can capitalize on because we work on gender issues in another way. Not only is telling the story from a woman’s perspective, but we also want to contribute to the research in the way these stories are treated. We want these stories to get into the editorial boards of the media.
None of this is going to be possible if we do not create a sustainable model, at least in the first phase. Sometimes, I wonder, how we have achieved a project without defining that first step.
With the network that Chicas Poderosas offers us as mentors we do not feel alone, we have pressures but we can also highlight our qualities and know when we are doing something right or wrong.
What topics have you seen that do not fit in national media and that you have published?
The personal stories. We have a large number of girls who have personal stories. Personal stories are marginalized. Unless you are someone you know, there is no chance of being counted. They simply treat them like experiences and do not see that it has to do with something bigger. But all the stories are personal, they start from there and what we do is to show how those stories can be an experienced by many women.
Do you want to help Malquerida continue to revolutionize narration and how your stories can be recognized? Here is how you can support them.
Malquerida is a space that not only promotes but wants to be the launch pad to girls and their stories. We want to create new references in journalism. That is why it is important to have this accompaniment of the NVL. We are reflecting a lot on the editorial work and I hope that it is transmitted in our campaign. We know it is hard to donate but it is an interesting exercise and we are happy with what we have achieved so far.