As we've repeatedly noted, the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) has been at the forefront in supporting women journalists worldwide for 25 years. They also have an avid supporter in the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, the middle son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett.
Therefore, the recent launch of the IWMF's Buffet-funded Adelante (Moving Forward)—a five-year reporting initiative that aims to amplify the voices of women journalists in Latin America—shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. What is striking, however, is the breadth and scope of the program. It represents a powerful example of a foundation supporting an organization that is acutely aware of the emerging challenges in a respective field—and has the plan and wherewithal to address these challenges.
But before we take a closer look at Adelante, some context is in order. Back in December of 2014, the Buffett foundation followed up on a $4 million give in October with another $10 million to the IWMF. The money was earmarked for three core programming initiatives: the IWMF's Courage in Photojournalism Award, the African Great Lakes Reporting Initiative (which was allocated $5 million), and the Howard G. Buffet Fund for Women Journalists, which received $4 million. (Winners for the latter program were announced in June of 2015.)
And now Buffet's foundation has awarded $5 million for Adelante. The guiding principle of this program is a simple one. It acknowledges that no region develops in a vacuum. To make significant progress, developing countries need need to have stable and sustainable pillars for an equitable and just society. Of course, all foundations understand this, and they allocate money to support specific pillars, including education, public health, and governmental transparency.
For the Howard G. Buffet Foundation, the pillar in question is a Latin American journalism field that is not only healthy and impactful, but also a welcoming and safe place for women. (Although Buffet is interested in other pillars as well, specifically food security, water security, conflict mitigation, and public safety.) "Communities must ensure that women's voices are heard and that women help shape the solutions to these challenges," Buffet noted in the IWMF's press release announcing the gift. "Our foundation is investing in the Adelante reporting initiative to help amplify those voices."
So, how will Adelante amplify women's voices?
First, by changing the male-dominated journalism paradigm in Latin American countries. In this instance, it's simply a matter of scale. Over the next five years, the Adelante initiative will provide unique opportunities for 270 women journalists, including year-long, in-country fellowships and international reporting trips in Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and the Mexico-United States border. Reporting fellows will "produce in-depth stories on themes including democracy and governance, immigration, agricultural development, economic opportunity, expanded technology access, women's rights and development, education, and conservation."
The first reporting trip will be to the Mexico-United States border from April 1–14, 2016. Concurrently, a group of six women journalists will cover themes of rural and economic development in a post-conflict context in Colombia.
What's more, to address growing safety concerns for journalists internationally, the IWMF will provide security training to international reporting fellows and hundreds of journalists living and working in Latin America.
The IWMF will accept applications from November 19, 2015–December 19, 2015. For more information and to apply for the program, as well as the two aforementioned reporting trips, click here.