Zarelia Festival

We created the 1st journalism festival that transformed public opinion in favor of reproductive rights

2019 | Latin America | Digital Media | New Narratives | Abortion | SRHR | Wambra

journalist from
26 countries


media outlets participated
in four iterations to date


of participants report
increased interest in abortion


Traditional media is highly conservative and perpetuates the stigma towards abortion. The vast majority of public opinion in Latin America still views abortion as something negative, dangerous, unwanted and socially rejected, which greatly impacts support for a change in laws and access to services. In countries where many of these rights are restricted, media plays a big role in maintaining the stigma and social rejection of abortion. This is because many journalists and media have biases, prejudices and a lack of knowledge around abortion, which they then transmit in their publications. In the last few years, thanks to new technologies and communication platforms, many digital local media have started emerging that speak to new audiences and use different approaches and narratives. However, these new media don’t necessarily mean they are well informed and equipped to report on sexual and reproductive rights. In fact, in a 2017 study, we found that only 31 digital media outlets had a clear gender approach in their narrative, investigations and op-eds. A new generation of consumers are desperate for media that advocates for the world they want to live in. If we want to transform public opinion in favor of human rights, we had to promote a structural change in the media environment.


The Zarelia Festival is a pioneering International Festival of journalism, digital media, gender and feminism that transforms public opinion in favor of abortion and SRHR. The festival emerged in 2019 from an alliance with WAMBRA, a community digital media in Ecuador. The Zarelia Festival is a unique space in the journalism world that promotes dialogue and shares the best experiences of using a gender approach in the region. Our goal was to create a national network and strengthen the international links between journalists and digital media in order to generate collaborative journalism projects and encourage the journalistic production and the proper approach in gender, sexual and reproductive rights, feminism, abortion, women and LGBTIQ+ rights.

With a multi-day agenda of workshops, panels, presentations and digital media meetings, Zarelia Festival has succeeded in positioning itself in the Latin American journalism panorama. The festival has strengthened the capacities of thousands of journalism professionals and students, has powered the creation of new digital media and has created networks between journalists and feminist media in the region and in several countries, such as Ecuador, Perú, Argentina, El Salvador, Guatemala, Chile and Colombia. Its main purpose is to extend the movement, collaborate in investigations, strengthen the professional capacities and have an influence in public opinion and decision makers, changing the meanings about abortion, among other topics. The articles, investigations and publications that have been generated by participants in Zarelia Festival have reached thousands of people and have succeeded in reaching traditional media which resist addressing sexual and reproductive rights. Although the original experiment was designed to explore the interest and results of the first two editions, the success of the Zarelia Festival is growing annually and is expanding the ecosystem to include new digital media, colleges, international organizations and companies that promote independent journalism.

Summary of Festival Zarelia's first edition, 2019


Return to projects