I am usually a punctual person but this time my clock stopped working because it ran out of battery. Even though I was late for my meeting with Carolina Restrepo, we enjoyed our time together and we had a great chat. It actually left us wanting more. That made me think: when it comes to women’s issues, it seems that time stands still.
Carolina Restrepo is A&E Network and Lifetime channels’ Marketing Director. During our interview, she kindly shared with us the study results they did in 2019 that were used for the creation of her campaign #juguemosigualenpantalla (For Equal Opportunities On Screen) launched in 2020. The main goal of this campaign was to promote equal opportunities between genders. Unfortunately, the statistics demonstrated that there is a clear inequality of opportunities in the entertainment business and film industry. It is evident that not many women work in this field and I think this is going to get worse after the pandemic ends.
Here is an example. In Hollywood, only 10.6% of the highest-grossing films of 2019 were directed by women, and none of them were nominated for an Oscar as directors in 2020. But that inequality of opportunities is everywhere, not only in the Academy Awards. Since its creation, The Cannes Festival has only awarded 82 female directors, as opposed to 1688 men.
We need to reflect on these statistics. As I said before, it seems that time stands still in this industry. The fact that women are not participating in making large-scale productions because it is difficult for them to get that far is a very big problem.
The real question is: what do we need to do to change these statistics, considering that this terrible pandemic has worsened this inequality? Because of COVID19, many women had decided to leave their jobs to take care of their homes and families. It was their choice but they were obligated somehow. It was already difficult for them to raise their kids while working, but this crisis has made it even worse to keep the balance between being a professional and a mom. This pandemic has forced them to be teachers, bus drivers, PE coaches, and extracurricular activities directors, adding more stress and responsibilities to their lives.
During our interview, I asked Carolina if she went through this series of drastic changes due to the pandemic. And she did. She had to watch her two-year-old son grow up, take his first steps, and listen to his first words, all while attending to her work via Zoom. Luckily, she persevered and all went great. But for many of her friends, it was the complete opposite. They felt that the background noises of their regular and somehow chaotic lives during the Zoom calls may result in discharge because it made them look vulnerable and unprofessional. For this very reason, many of her friends were forced to hire external aid, although this was an unplanned expense and a risk that exposed them and their families to the virus.
Nowadays, women are expected to be responsible not only as professionals but also as mothers, spouses, and housewives. The pandemic made us rethink the dynamics of our lives.
How the world will be after this disease is over is every woman’s main concern. Because once we get back to our routines we will notice that we have lost some ground and taking it back will not be easy. And I wonder, what will happen when the very few women who were working as photographers, videographers, producers, and assistants, cannot get back to their professional responsibilities because their jobs are no longer available due to major budget cuts?
For example, if we go back to the statistics that Carolina shared with us, we see that in Mexico’s film industry there is 1 woman for every 3.7 men. I think it is time to open positions and offer more job opportunities for women
Production financing and support are also influenced by this gender inequality. Between 1998 and 2016, financial aid institutions like EFICINE, FIDECINE, and FOPROCINE have helped mostly male productions. In fact, 81.1% of the help was granted to men.
We do not know for sure what will happen next. But what we do know is that WAWA, as an institution that stands up for women, will continue helping and promoting business among women in the audiovisual industry. Our goal is to create a safe space where every woman can share and discuss her needs, and between all of us, we can find the answers and solutions to bring about new opportunities.
We want to be the voice and the means that help improve the current conditions of many Latin American women. We want to serve as a bridge between them and their goals. It is important to raise awareness about the experiences of women who work in this industry. Only by doing that, we can learn how we can be part of the change. When you help a woman, you are giving her the opportunity to really show her talent and shine. As women, we can pave the way to our success if we believe in what we are doing. We must keep fighting and claim back what was rightfully ours.
For some women, returning to their jobs after this pandemic is over will be a difficult task. Not only because of the COVID19 economic recession we are dealing with but also because of all the ground that we have lost. The fight goes on. Raising awareness and making sure there is an abundance of opportunities in other fields of labor is everyone’s duty. Gender inclusion is necessary in order to move forward from our outdated mindset.