31 January 2013

What the Fellowship Means to Me

By E. Tammy Kim, Ms. Foundation 2012 Fellow

I am grateful to the Ms. Foundation for Women for awarding me its inaugural fellowship to support reporting on gender and economic justice. Deep, investigative pieces about marginalized communities demand significant time and resources; unfortunately, increasingly few media outlets pay their writers—particularly for social justice stories. In this moment of media saturation and dwindling resources, the Ms. Foundation has allowed me to focus on stories about gender inequality.

My current task is two-fold: first, and primarily, to research and write in-depth journalism on low-wage domestic and child care workers, and low-income women struggling to obtain child care; and second, to contribute economic research and analysis to the Ms. Foundation's new Advocacy and Policy department.

In my first five months as a fellow, I have interviewed young undocumented mothers, nannies from Nepal and the Philippines, care workers in Atlanta, New Yorkers receiving welfare, Latina day laborers seeking cleaning and factory work, and African-American child care providers and parents in New Jersey. The resulting stories—translations of these women's experiences as workers and caregivers—are already published or forthcoming in major media outlets, including The American Prospect and The Nation.

I believe that careful, unaffiliated reporting is a necessary component of social change. To convey truth is to ask enough questions, be present and avoid clich├ęs—of woe and success alike. Storytelling is not all, or even most, of what we must do to improve the lives of low-income women. But I have observed the impact of investigative reporting in my work as a writer, attorney, teacher and activist. I hope that my present journalistic efforts will contribute to the struggles of low-wage women and their communities.

Thanks to the Ms. Foundation for its critical support.

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