The feminist media collective advocates for gender-based issues experienced by women in Orlando and abroad.
As young women of principles and ideals, Stephanie Piñeiro, Krizia López, and Adriana Jiménez have fought from their own trenches.
The three women clicked immediately when they met in Orlando. Not only were they all Puerto Rican: they also shared concerns about social, racial, and gender injustice. Iza Montalvo, a Puerto Rican journalist, and producer, created the feminist media collective Jevas Combativas and joined forces with Stephanie who is the lead producer. Krizia and Adriana were later integrated.
The group shares a background in communications, although Stephanie comes from social work and activism. The Jevas noticed traditional media was not covering issues like wage equity, gender perspective, access to reproductive health, and many more topics from a feminist perspective.
“The entire media landscape has changed so much. We noticed a need for public conversations about the feminist agenda: a focus on gender-perspective conversations in Spanish directed to Spanish-speaking women in Florida,” said Iza.
Jevas Combativas boasts a strong social media presence and a Saturday-morning radio show broadcast by La Mega 97.1 FM from 9 to 10 a.m. Their discussions cover a wide range of issues affecting women, especially Latinas.
“Jevas Combativas advocates creating opportunities and fostering leadership, training, and development among Latino and Puerto Rican women in the media, a group we realize is underrepresented. The impact of this gender gap in the media reduces perspective on issues that affect us,” Iza said.
All the Jevas struggled to start a new life in Orlando.
Stephanie and Iza have lived in Florida the longest. Stephanie arrived in 2002, and Iza in 2004.
Krizia and Adriana moved to Orlando in 2017 after Hurricane Maria caused severe damage in Puerto Rico.
Adriana remembers: “I’m part of the Puerto Ricans who came in 2017. I went through everything, like everyone else. I lived in a hotel for several months. I was going through it until I dropped in at a political organization called Alianza for Progress. I started working with the Hispanic community and met Krizia. She also came to Orlando after Hurricane Maria.”
Iza explained the name Jevas Combativas reflects the collective awakening during the summer of 2019 when thousands of Puerto Ricans joined in the protest to remove former governor Ricardo Rosselló from office after a chat-group scandal.
Krizia tried to stay in Puerto Rico, looking for work in communications or marketing. She had been struggling to find a decent job even before Hurricane Maria hit the island. Upon her arrival in Orlando, she began working as a paraprofessional at a school for Latino children who have yet to speak English.
“I came to Orlando with an open mind, after working for 10 years in media outlets in Puerto Rico. I started working in Orlando public schools as a paraprofessional and began to understand the community work that is done here. I started attending talks at various organizations and realized I liked what was being done. I found a job at a non-profit. Although the non-profit served North America, my work would involve serving the Puerto Rican diaspora,” Krizia said.
Jevas Combativas recently launched a campaign, “Grita más fuerte” (Shout Louder), to face the increase in gender-based violence cases during curfews in various parts of the world, and to address the barriers affecting fair access to health services — a situation worsened by the coronavirus pandemic.
Por Amor al Arte
Artistic expression is at the heart of the campaign. The Jevas share illustrated memes, and short audio recordings in Spanish, on social media to address experiences of gender-based discrimination.
Stephanie emphasized the desperate situations happening during the coronavirus pandemic. Many people lack health insurance or have lost their jobs. Some have been unable to claim the unemployment benefit, or live under the same roof as their abuser. There’s also a housing crisis because of high rents, forcing families to overcrowd houses or apartments.
“That’s why these hotlines and campaigns that connect these issues are so important; we are able to give a voice to the people. The Línea Combativa is a part of our campaign, a phone line people can call in and leave messages. We play their messages on the radio and deliver them to our state representatives. They know about some of these issues. We have local allies who fight for us,” Stephanie said.