Credit: Ilaria Biancacci (above) founder of Wempower

Wempower is a small network for women journalists in their early 20s from around the world, hoping to shape the next generation of women news leaders.

It wants to change narratives around gender issues and women rights. Though it does not have any in its ranks right now, it is also open to transgender women.

"A community like this was missing for me when I was younger and I don't want it to be missing for young women now," says Ilaria Biancacci, an experienced journalist and founder of Wempower.

It offers a paid-for membership that provides networking and training sessions, access to its Facebook community group and a weekly newsletter.

Biancacci also produces a podcast with prominent, successful women journalists about their careers and key challenges. A good example is this episode with Jo Healy, who is an industry expert on trauma reporting. It also publishes its own women-focused news articles.

"More and more people are not reading the news because it's too negative and pessimistic," she continues.

"I want to see stories that live on after you've closed the magazine or switched off the computer. Stories that make you think: 'if that other woman who looks and speaks like me did it, why can't I?'"

Having worked as a freelance journalist in the UK, Italy, Lebanon, Turkey and Palestine, Biancacci says she has consistently seen women under-represented in the newsroom and excluded from reporting certain topics.

She initially tried to combat this in 2011 with a feminist, monthly e-magazine called Uno Sguardo al Femminile - roughly translating to "a feminine look". It ran for seven years before closing, but the idea stayed with her.

Wempower was launched during the pandemic whilst Biancacci was furloughed, giving her time to make a platform to foster connection at a time of isolation. The ultimate idea is to amplify more diverse voices and bring more women into leadership roles in the media and journalism industry.

"I like to create connections between junior and senior editors because it's the best way for the girls to learn, ask questions, and discover what are the real obstacles they might face in their career."

Biancacci plans to grow the membership more by working more closely with universities, both for facilitating mentorships and internships, and to potentially subsidise memberships for students.

She still has a day job, working for sports manufacturer Decathlon, but wants Wempower to become her full-time focus.

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