Focusing our journalism training opportunities on women reflects both a commitment to equality and a strategic development plan.
When founder Cristi Hegranes conceived of Global Press Institute, her aim was to create in-depth journalism training and long-term employment opportunities that fostered community dialogue and development.
"I wanted to enable people to become journalists, because I believe journalism is an empowering profession," Hegranes says. "Personal empowerment is the first step to developing strong, thriving communities."
But it didn't start out as a women-centered initiative.
"The more research I did, the more I realized that training women would not only increase our ability to fulfill our community development goal, but it would also be a practical business decision for Global Press Institute in terms of return on investment, retention rates and long-term success indicators," she said.
International development agencies have demonstrated that investing in women and girls is often the best bet in developing countries. In fact, $1 invested in providing skills-based education to women typically results in a $34 return on investment to the global economy. What's more, when women are educated and employed, the United Nations and countless nongovernmental organizations have documented that poverty is alleviated, infant and maternal mortality rates decrease, population growth is more controlled, and overall quality of life indicators in a community improve.
"Plus, we know that when women receive skills training, they tend to stay close to home, where men tend to leave their villages in favor of larger cities where they are more likely to get a higher-paying job," Hegranes adds. "Women reinvest 80 to 90 percent of their income into their families and communities, according to international development agencies."
Today, GPI boasts a 93-percent retention rate among the women trained in the last four years. But just because GPI trains mostly women does not make its aims political or exclusionary. GPI’s inclusive employment platform not only welcomes men, but also relies on them to fill leadership positions, board posts and supporter profiles. Men in Mongolia, Nepal and Mexico have also taken part in GPI’s newsroom training endeavors.
Educating, training and employing women is a strategic choice that results in personal empowerment, long-term organizational and community development and, most importantly, exceptional journalism.