Even though there seems to be more obstacles to migrate in Latin America and the world, people continue choosing immigration as an alternative and life choice. In 2019, there were 244 million people who chose to migrate internationally, according to data from the International Organization for Migration; from those, 48% were women. We don’t know how many migrants consider themselves non-binary; they aren't formally represented in statistics.
These figures offer an overview of a natural phenomenon, more and more frequent in the present day. Still, they do not shed a light on the diversity of stories of migration, and on the people behind them. These numbers hide the millions of reasons to decide to leave: from fear and insecurity to love; or the eagerness to transform oneself, to mutate, to belong. They also hide millions of different paths, travel experiences, risks and opportunities, and ways of arriving, of integrating to other societies, of remaining or returning. Sometimes, they also hide the choice to migrate again or to continue migrating.
The project "10 Migrant Stories” was created by Chicas Poderosas to tell stories of migration of women and non-binary people, stories you don’t hear so much about. We think this project is being published at a time when there stories are needed to go beyond numbers and focus on what really matters: the people… and their stories.
This isn’t the first time that Chicas Poderosas takes on the issue of migration. In 2015, when the number of migrants and refugees who were crossing the Mediterranean to reach Europe reached a historical critical point – with many of them dying in their attempts to migrate –, Chicas Poderosas gathered over 100 journalists, activists, designers, and coders to think of possible ways to change the way in which migration stories were being told. The 19 Million Project was an initiative that put on the agenda the need to rethink the migration discourses that are created and/or reproduced in the media.
Today, with “10 Migrant Stories,” we want to bring up again the need to find new ways of telling migration stories. Collaborative journalism is an innovative way to approach these – and other – stories. We also suggest to focus on giving a space to the voices of women and non-binary people to tell the stories of others. And we propose also to celebrate the diversity of people, of migration stories, and of choosing different formats to tell these stories.
Migrating is departing, mutating, arriving. Migrating is surviving, getting organized, fighting. It’s flowing, belonging, remaining. Migrating is also returning and being reborn. Because there is not only one way to migrate, there are many. These are only 10 stories to begin to expand our knowledge of the phenomenon.
Last year Chicas Poderosas did its first #InvestigaciónPoderosa (Powerful Investigation in Spanish), to explore the access of women to abortion rights in Latin America. Through a collaborative work led by the Chicas Poderosas Argentina’s community, 28 journalists from 18 countries worked virtually to provide a regional panorama on what it’s like to Abort In Latin America. The result of this experiment was a regional multimedia report that you can read here (in Spanish). It’s repercussion was much bigger than expected: it was read by over 11,000 people, and featured in 15 national and international media outlets; it received a prize for workflow innovation at the Buenos Aires Hacks Hackers’ Media Party 2018, and it was included as part of an art exhibit in Berlin, Germany.
This year, the Chicas Poderosas team decided to come back to this idea, a report based on regional and international community outreach, focusing on another issue affecting the region, where we can tell stories that are not being told. With the support of Google News Initiative, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), Meedan y Check, we decided to approach migrations in Latin America.
In May 2019, we opened a call for women and non binary reporters to pitch of immigration stories from women and non-binary people in Latin America. We disseminated the call through the social media channels of Chicas Poderosas, and received over 60 proposals from 17 countries: from Argentina to the United States, from French Guiana to Uruguay, from Chile to El Salvador. Many proposals suggested the stories of Venezuelan migrants, the largest migratory movement in region ought to be told.
Our editorial team reviewed every proposal, analyzed all by taking into account their relevance and their gender and diversity approach to tell migration; the urgency and feasibility of the stories; and the experience of the reporters (not by number of years, but by interest in these topics). In meetings held through hangouts and working on Google Sheets, we pre-selected and finalized our story selection a few months later. With many debates along the way, enriching dialogues, questions, and reflections, we made the tough decision of choosing among all those proposals, all those migration experiences, the 10 stories that, when told, would leave the biggest footprint.
We communicated with each of the reporters and started a collaborative work process to develop these stories; not only for them to carry out the reporting but to think, learn, and together create other ways of telling these stories. We worked through a process of mentoring between editors and reporters to guide each process and make the journalistic experience less lonely. We had group calls to reflect together how to improve the gender and diversity perspective and the human approach to migration in the stories. There was a back and forth between reporters and mentors, interviewers and interviewees, designers and editors. We also counted with the Chicas Poderosas community, whose support was crucial to overcome some obstacles that emerged from language, technical issues, or the project’s needs.
We continued with the editing phase for two months, through more virtual meetings and more documents, and a final phase to conclude the design of the project.
Today, we are happy to enter the final phase of making this project, the publication and dissemination of these stories, which is also the beginning of a conversation we want to have with you, our readers, as well as our community, journalists, migrants, and all the people interested in migration experiences.
If you want to publish one of these 10 stories, if you have questions or comments, or if there’s anything you want to tell us, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The story Legal Frontiers was translated from Portuguese to Spanish by Simona Paranhos Sánchez.
The stories were translated to English by Sofía Cerda Campero.
The illustrations were made by Gia Castello
This project is possible thanks to the support of Google News Initiative, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Meedan and Check.
We want to thank the support of Chicas Poderosas global community. We want to particularly thank Mariana Barbosa, for helping with the edition of the story “Legal Frontiers” in Portuguese; and Nathalia Restrepo for helping with the edition of the video of the story “I brought Claudia to life in Argentina”.
Above all, we thank the women and non-binary people who shared their migration experiences and who are part of these Migrant Stories.
Chicas Poderosas is a global community that ignites change by inspiring and developing women in media and creating opportunities for all voices to be heard. Our organization was launched in 2014 at Stanford University by Mariana Santos, ICFJ Fellow, after she challenged the strong gender bias in newsrooms across Latin America. Chicas Poderosas ignites change in two ways. First, by empowering women through professional development and innovation. Second, by changing the narrative to transform the world.
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