Yes! A big thanks to all the women trailblazers that have overcome the hardships, resistance, and gender discrimination that made women stronger, more resilient, and more independent. About a century ago, women in the U.S. were uniting and fighting for decent working conditions, reasonable pay, and the right to vote in all elections. International Women’s Day started in 1909 but did not start getting recognition and political support until 1975 when the United Nations recognized March 8th as a worldwide celebration of International Women’s Day. Two years later International Women’s Day became an international holiday and soon after then-President Jimmy Carter announced in February 1980 that the U.S. will celebrate Women’s History Month. It took another seven years for Congress to pass legislation officially establishing March as Women’s History Month.
The Bay Area has a rich history of strong women who fight for their rights and inspired women around California to fight together. Women like entrepreneur Juana Briones, Civil Rights Activist Charlotte L. Brown, Author Amy Tam, Grandmother of the Disability Rights movement Zona Roberts, and Vice President Kamala Harris. We live in a community full of determined and driven individuals that give voices and a forum to those who go unnoticed or are marginalized. Media has been one of the most powerful tools that have brought access to those that have a message and a story to share. Here are a few examples of women who have stayed independent and blazed a trail for future generations.
Annie Roney is the founder and CEO of ro*co films, which helps produce and distribute game-changing documentaries. These films are socially conscious stories ranging from stories about youth empowerment and activism to huge collectives from around the world working together to make a global impact on such crises as climate change, racial discrimination, genocide, and women’s rights. Annie and ro*co films have distributed over 100 documentaries at film festivals, educational settings, internationally, and most recently via VOD services. Annie founded ro*co films in 2000 with two complementary ideas: the belief that a well-told, well-researched and emotionally-driven documentary can challenge the way people think about issues in every corner of the globe; and, to be entrusted with the distribution of these stories, ro*co needed to be in service to the filmmaker first and foremost.
Evelyn Messinger has been producing broadcast journalism for over 40 years for both mainstream media sources and independent non-profit digital media organizations. Evelyn found her activist heart while earning a Bachelor’s degree in Broadcasting at San Francisco State University. Evelyn has produced documentaries and created television programs that have won Emmy awards. She has served on the board of directors of Link TV and has introduced new media formats to broadcast television and the internet in projects with PBS. Evelyn’s grassroots activism has provided a voice to women all over the US and led them to create a new narrative where they show the world and their communities through their creativity and intelligence.
Abbey Fernandez is a digital correspondent and producer for KNTV NBC Bay Area. She co-produces programming for Telemundo 48 and KNTV. She also produces her own YouTube series “Hey Abbey” in which she takes viewers behind the scenes of major reports by the NBC Investigative Unit and Digital team. Abbey is the host of “Synced In” and “Conectados.” Her work on “Synced In” was recognized when she won the 2020 Edward R. Murrow award for Excellence in Innovation. She also was the recipient of the BEA Awards and was the only Spanish winning piece out of 120 entries. Abbey has rocketed to working as a featured producer for a large metropolitan broadcast network. Her tenacious work ethic and dedication to being ahead of the curve is one of the many reasons she is an inspiration to young girls who want to become television producers.
The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film is located at the University of San Diego and was founded by Dr. Martha M. Lauzen, who is also the Executive Director at the center which provides the most comprehensive study of women in film and television. Their website is full of research statistics and articles that factually support the suppression and marginalization of women by mainstream media and large Hollywood studios.
The struggle for Women’s rights has been featured in films like Suffragette, Made in Dagenham, Iron Jawed Angels, and The Glorias, and there is still a huge need for more empowering representations and positive strong role models for young girls and women to be inspired by in film and television. Women will be the creators, innovators, and navigators of this generation of digital media production. Midpen Media Center producers like Henrietta Burroughs, Alma Love, and Sheryl Shaffer are creating programs that work to build community and share the stories of strong positive female role models. Keri Stokstad, Executive Director and CEO of the Midpen Media Center, is a renowned leader in community media and an expert in advanced media technologies. Emily Parent, Midpen Media Center’s Community Media Manager. is teaching young girls and women how to share their stories and create their own content to show women how to redefine and establish a stronger and more balanced film and television industry.