“Machismo drives women away from the press”, says Carolina, one of the last photojournalists in Oaxaca

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This Oaxacan photographer is convinced that only education will save women and men from the discrimination that persists in the profession and the media

Oaxaca de Juárez.- The Pakistani activist and blogger, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, Malala Yousafzai wrote: “To make myself powerful I only need one thing: education”.

Tania Carolina Jiménez Mariscal, one of the few photojournalists who persist in the profession in Oaxaca, agrees with that premise. For her, education is the tool capable of providing society with the knowledge to overcome gender discrimination and machismo.

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, in an interview with EL UNIVERSAL, Carolina shares her story behind the lens. Carito, as those who know her affectionately call her, is passionate about photography since she studied communication at the Anahuac University, however, she is also a lover of literature and reading in general. She treasures texts by Stephen King, as well as books on photography.

Currently, she regrets, the conditions of the media, which do not allow workers to provide sufficient salaries, causes that fewer and fewer young people, especially women, approach the profession in general and the work of photojournalism in particular.

She began her journey in the media, in December 2008. “I started working on a portal doing everything, writing and taking pictures … I entered with a friend and, it was that time of the boom of the information portals, they gave us a cybershot camera and we did text and photos”, she recalls.

However, Carolina, interested in capturing higher quality images, worked with a Sony Alpha in hand, applying the knowledge she acquired in her university training.

Combining photos and notes, finally, months later, she decided that her path was the image. In 2009, she began as a photographer in a local newspaper, where she still works. “At first I combined my work in the two jobs, although I had to split myself in a thousand, always looking for recognition for the photo,” she points out.

Although her relationship with the letters was momentary, occasionally she has also edited and written texts that accompany the visual information.

Later, she collaborated with the extinct cultural magazine “El Jolgorio Cultural”, where she also did image design and interventions of photographs, as well as editorial design. Later, she joined the ranks of Estación Foto, an agency dedicated to photojournalism, started by Oaxacan photographers. Currently, she collaborates for the agency “Cuartoscuro”.

15 years after the start of her work, she acknowledges that the work of the media has changed due to the immediacy that social networks currently demand. In view of this, she considers it essential to know how to choose the photos “you have to know how to edit yourself, send the ones you consider best to facilitate the work of the editors, especially because in Oaxaca there are no editors dedicated to the selection of photographs”, she points out.

Therefore, she maintains that photography is not an accompaniment to the written information, but that photography has the ability to inform by itself.

15 years after her start, Carolina reflects on the challenges of her profession. “The most difficult thing that has happened to me may be a demonstration, there, the risks are moderately calculated, you don’t know how far it will escalate,” she says.

She recalls the conflict of Nochixtlán, which occurred on Sunday, June 19, 2016, in that Mixteca, where in a confrontation hundreds of elements of the Municipal, State and Federal police tried to evict teachers and townspeople, who protested against the educational reform.

On that day, the journalistic coverage was carried out among shots, fights and dangerous situations; Carolina was one of the few women who left her house early to the place of training, to carry out her journalistic work and the only one who covered the events of Nochixtlán, images of police shooting at teachers that went around the world.

“I realized it until two days later, when I assimilated having been among the bullets, some that you didn’t even know where they came from. We were in crossfire, without signal, seeing burned cars. There was a moment when a grenade almost fell on us and, for safety, we stopped taking pictures, trying to find more colleagues, because we separated. That day we didn’t even eat, we hadn’t had breakfast and we left, without knowing what was going to happen,” she says.

The green and purple photo

For Carolina, in the photographic and journalistic work, machismo is normalized, because in an environment dominated by male roles, the voice of women is heard very low. “You have it so normalized that you accept it, sometimes they gave me assignments where they assigned me more work or they saw me very small or defenseless, despite the fact that this is a job that should not have a gender,” she says.

It was little by little, as she informed herself about the struggle of women from feminism to reclaim spaces in jobs and the rest of social roles, that her perspective and performance changed.

According to figures from organizations, of the people dedicated to journalism in Mexico, only 29% are women, that is, less than 30%.

“I consider that what can save us, both men and women, is education, on gender and feminism issues. It has happened to me in the jobs that women also discriminate and violate; it is education that opens our eyes,” she sentences.

The most substantial changes, which were reflected in her work behind the lens, she emphasizes, began to be noticed more or less six years ago, when the feminist struggle gained strength. Carolina also began to cover the demonstrations and pronouncements of thousands of women demanding justice.

“At first I covered it, but I didn’t say anything to the macho comments of the colleagues to the women,” she regrets. Today, Carolina selects the coverage of events that revictimize or strengthen macho practices. Her work is recognized among her colleagues, because in addition to making accurate shots, she confesses that she likes to work almost unnoticed, because she prefers to just observe, without altering the scene.

She considers it important to respect the rules of the calls of the women who lead the demonstrations, as well as the spaces that are for women, such as the separatist marches.

“Sometimes, they send us to cover and they are interested in the damage, the directors in the media are interested in that, when that is not the note. Women take to the streets because thousands of women have been killed and nobody does anything,” she says.

And she adds: “not only are they killing us physically. There will always be a lag, in the labor, in the social … there is not a single woman who has not experienced harassment.” Even, she points out, in the exercise of her work she has experienced threats and harassment, during the performance of her work.

Carolina asserts that although sometimes the journalistic work is cyclical, there are always options to explore her passion for photography.

For 15 years, Carolina walks, day by day, ready to carry out her informative work, with a camera on her shoulder, imposing in front of her 1.50 meters of height, her soft voice and her smile. “This work has given me the opportunity to know places, witness important events and in particular, photography has allowed me to make a journey to myself … maybe I don’t have a strong voice, but I do have a powerful look”, she concludes.

Source: El Universal