July 8, 2024

Medfeminiswiya: Empowering feminist journalists and transforming the media landscape

Founded in 2018, our grantee Medfeminiswiya.Network is a collective of feminist journalists from the Mediterranean region. Through their online magazine, Medfeminiswiya, they produce public-interest stories on a wide range of issues, from period poverty in Montenegro to the struggle of the LGBTQ community in Italy, with features, investigations, and in-depth pieces.

“Gender equality means equality of rights and opportunities while respecting individual personalities, talents, desires, dreams and aspirations. Today, gender equality does not really exist in any country in the Mediterranean. That is why we created MedFemiNiswiya.”

Samia Allalou, co-president of Medfeminiswiya.

The Alliance for Gender Equality in Europe supports Medfeminiswiya’s work through its economic opportunities fund in building the economic autonomy and inclusion of feminist editors and journalists with a migration background in Croatia, France, Greece, Italy and Spain. This support provides opportunities for them to publish their work, strengthen their skills and network with other professionals.

Declining media freedom

Supporting independent, reliable, and unbiased media outlets is crucial in today’s environment, as media freedom faces challenges across Europe. The growing pressure on journalists is creating a ‘chilling effect’ that hinders their ability to tell important stories and hold the powerful to account. The situation is particularly concerning in the Mediterranean region, including countries like Italy, Croatia, and Greece, where journalists face significant obstacles in their work.

Women journalists, especially those from migrant backgrounds, encounter even more precarious working conditions and struggle to establish themselves in the field. They often pay a high price for their work, as they are disproportionately targeted by online harassment. Tragically, some, like Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta and Shireen Abu Akleh in Palestine, have lost their lives due to their reporting.

Adding to this restrictive context is the fact that women journalists face discrimination and exclusion in traditional newsrooms. Despite their courage and impactful reporting, they remain severely under-represented across Europe, with only about 23% of stories written by women, creating a huge information gap in the media landscape.

A safe space for women journalists in the Mediterranean

As an independent feminist media outlet, Medfeminiswiya addresses these challenges by providing a platform for stories on critical women’s rights issues in the Mediterranean that are often overlooked or underrepresented in mainstream media, publishing in English, French, and Arabic.

To build a thriving community, MedFemiNiswiya offers a supportive space where women journalists can develop their skills through vocational training, mentoring, journalistic production, and cultural events, with the aim of boosting their professional credentials and access to the media market.

Recently, the network established country groups to help migrant women journalists collaborate, network, and support one another. This initiative has led to a series of incisive articles exploring the conditions of foreign-born women, such as an article on how migrant women domestic workers in Spain have recently secured their labour rights.

Why Medfeminiswiya matters

By highlighting the common struggles, challenges, and achievements of women and girls in the Mediterranean region, Medfeminiswiya is filling an information gap in an inclusive and accessible way.

As a network of feminist multicultural journalists, we want to contribute to overcoming stereotypes and prejudices and build a more inclusive citizenship space. Because the well-being of women is the well-being of society as a whole.

Samia Allalou, co-president of Medfeminiswiya.

Importantly, the network also serves as a rare safe space for women journalists, particularly those from marginalized and migrant backgrounds, allowing them to freely express themselves and share their stories without fear, while establishing themselves within the media sector.

Medfeminiswiya is not just about reporting news; it’s about reimagining what credible and thought-provoking journalism can be, and creating a future where women’s voices are included, heard, and valued. Offering readers a wider range of viewpoints and promoting critical debate is needed now more than ever.