Connect to World Pulse with Founder Jensine Larsen
Imagine yourself a mother in the heart of the Amazon. Your child is dying from cancer caused by land contamination. It’s not only your child who is dying but the children of many mothers. What do you do? These mothers turned to Jensine Larsen, a journalist working in the area, and asked her to be their messenger.
Larsen went beyond that. She created World Pulse, a global media and communication network, to empower these women to become their own messengers. Over the past eight years World Pulse has grown into a community of more than 40,000 women from over 182 countries who use its network to raise their voices and unite to accelerate change. Additionally, the support of forty alliance partners and some angel investors helps to keep the organization at the forefront of women's empowerment.
How does World Pulse help women?
World Pulse’s print and online magazine and interactive community newswire, PulseWire, enables women everywhere to speak out and work together to resolve social issues. Examples include Nigerian and Kashmiri women who unite to stop the stoning of widows, Burmese and Congolese women who unite to end rape, and Rwandan women parliamentarians who unite to strengthen their country’s constitution.
Larsen says these women’s strides encourage other women to take action. For example, a woman in the U.S. is helping women in Africa start solar lighting businesses; a woman in Spain is establishing a mobile medical clinic in Kenya; and a Congolese woman is giving microloans to female entrepreneurs in her home country.
Larsen explains, “What’s happening is a multiplier effect as women serve as catalysts for realizing each other’s dreams. A few years ago many of these women didn’t even know they could dream. It’s so exciting to see them awaken to their potential.”
Women supporting women is key to World Pulse’s success. Larsen says, “If you teach a man to fish, he will eat for a lifetime. If you teach a woman to fish, her whole village will eat for a lifetime. World Pulse is like the lake around which women gather to teach each other how to fish to feed themselves and their communities.”
To help women in their outreach, World Pulse has created a training program called “Voices of Our Future” (VOF). The program teaches them how to use social media technologies to share their message with the world. This year, thirty women were selected for the program out of nearly 600. News agencies such as CNN, BBC, and The Huffington Post are picking up their stories and those of the other citizen journalists, thereby broadening World Pulse’s audience.
The VOF correspondents are responsible for training five other women in their communities; some are training as many as 50 to 100. This is no small feat given that a third of these women come from the most violent regions on the globe. World Pulse knows the challenges they face and supports them by providing a mentor and editorial midwife who encourage them to keep reporting. The organization also gives stipends to pay for internet and cell phone access.
One VOF correspondent, Sunita Basnet from Nepal, says, “World Pulse gives me a new life because I can freely raise my voice. Yesterday my neighbors in my village of 500 didn’t want to hear from me but today the world is waiting for my voice.”
Larsen comments, “Giving a voice to women the world has never heard from before is creating a tsunami of change. Its ripple effects will continue to expand as we raise the bar on what’s possible.”
World Pulse explores what is possible in its latest magazine’s issue entitled “Embody.” The stories encourage us to envision a world where women are free and powerful in their bodies. The next issue, “Spirit,” will explore how women are using faith to come together and promote greater access to education, health care and freedom of movement.
Both of these topics speak to women’s number one concern: violence. Women want peace and safety in their countries, communities and homes. To achieve this goal, World Pulse welcomes men to participate in its network at the request of its community members. They have found that the male community members are overwhelmingly supportive, although occasionally patronizing language occurs. When this happens, the women community members enter into meaningful dialogue with them and generally are able to use the situation to promote greater understanding.
Fostering understanding between the genders is critical to women’s safety. For example, some women said their husbands felt threatened or ignored when they first joined World Pulse. So the women started to include their husbands and sons by showing them how to use the network to connect to people. Now many husbands send thank-you letters saying how happy they are to participate in the global community and to witness the positive changes in their wives.
While World Pulse does everything it can to keep its citizen journalists safe, including safety and security training and online community moderation, it is ultimately up to the women to decide if they want to risk speaking out. Despite the risks, women all over the world are reporting on the changes that are happening, including women in the Middle East.
Larsen wants to build on this momentum to make World Pulse the largest global communication network in the world, powered by millions of women. She envisions women everywhere using mobile devices to connect to each other through the network. With the push of a button, they will be able to receive information, voice their opinion, and take action to influence world affairs.
How can I get involved?
Larsen says there are many ways to participate in World Pulse. Some examples are:
-Signing-up for the free e-magazine
-Subscribing to the magazine’s print version
-Attending the 2011 Speaking and Media Voices of Our Future Tour featuring award-winning correspondents
-Visiting the World Pulse website to learn about projects, comment on stories, connect with people working on similar issues, find persons living in a country to which you travel or make a contribution.
Having just returned from Africa, Larsen says, “There is no greater joy than meeting one of these women and being empowered by her dream. I know a woman who is running for political office while taking care of forty orphans. She and others like her are helping me see what’s possible for my own life. They are teaching me to be unstoppable and break my own silence.”
For more information, please visit World Pulse’s website www.worldpulse.com or call (503) 331-3900.
(Note to readers: This article I wrote on World Pulse and Jensine Larsen will be published in the U.S. in BellaSpark magazine and The Examiner in May. I wanted to give World Pulse members a preview :-)