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New Initiative Promotes More Representation of Women in the Media

VOA Director Amanda Bennett (L) and Lisa Kassenaar, Senior Writer and Editor on Global Women's Coverage (R)

VOA Director Amanda Bennett made it clear that VOA is about action, not words, when it comes to women's inclusion and representation in the media. "Empowerment isn't just a word," she told a packed auditorium on Wednesday, June 6. "Empowerment means you go and do things."

She spoke at the opening event for the new VOA Women's Caucus. The Caucus's goal is to encourage all VOA employees to play a part in including more women and their viewpoints in VOA's work. The launch event featured a "Fireside Chat" with Bennett, a demonstration of the online database, and an introduction of the Caucus's leadership board.

Lisa Kassenaar, the Senior Writer and Editor on Global Women's Coverage at VOA, led the discussion with Director Bennett. The wide-ranging talk included Bennett's experiences as a woman in the workplace and her hope for the future of VOA. When she began her career with the Wall Street Journal, Bennett said, for many years she felt like the only woman in the room. And while women are certainly better represented in the media now than at the beginning of her career, there is still work to be done. Bennett also outlined the purpose of the Caucus: to promote women in the media, and to show the world that when women are given opportunities, they can become successful and well-respected.

The discussion was followed by a demonstration of, led by Kate McCarthy, the Director of Programs for the Women's Media Center. SheSource is an online database with over 1400 female experts on a wide variety of topics. The VOA Women's Caucus is promoting SheSource to encourage equal representation of female experts in VOA's news coverage.

The members of the Women's Caucus represent several VOA's divisions and are led by President Navbahor Imamova of VOA's Uzbek service. Each caucus member will form a mini-caucus within their division so that all VOA employees can play a role in promoting the inclusion of women in the media.