“Ms. Ressa is a humble giant who epitomizes what it means to be a Local Female Leader,” says Keiko Ono, Vice President of the Islands Society. “Her belief in the power of social media and social networking technologies to create ‘communities of action’ should inspire girls and women to follow her lead and make sure that their voices are heard on the issues that matter most to their local communities.”
Ressa is currently the CEO and President of Rappler, one of the fastest growing and biggest social news networks in Southeast Asia. Prior to founding Rappler, she led ABS CBN and served as a Bureau Chief for CNN.
“While I was leading the largest news group here, it was primarily male.,” says Ressa. “Not by much. But, it was something like 53-55% male and the rest women. In Rappler, it started out 52% male, 48% women. Now, we see it shifting to more women than men. The women are actually more engaged on social media because they carry their advocacies forward. In fact, I think that beyond the gender issue, technology and social media hold the key to solving major developmental problems that traditional methods just didn’t make a dent in.”
About the Islands Society
The Islands Society is an independent, non-partisan, non-governmental organization that develops and implements projects that inspire and empower islanders around the world. These projects are currently organized around two main themes: community projects and next generation leaders. The community projects centre on ten issue areas, including charity, conservation, democracy, disaster relief, education, equality, health, innovation, security, and sustainability. Meanwhile, the next generation leader projects support artists, athletes, chefs, incubators, musicians, policymakers, storytellers, and technologists.
About the Pacific Islands Society (PacSoc)
The Pacific Islands Society is a constituent society of the Islands Society. Its mission is to respect, inspire, and empower Pacific Islanders around the world, especially women and the next generation of leaders. PacSoc is the oldest and most active of the Islands Society’s constituent societies. It currently runs a number of high-profile programs, including NexGen Pacific Artists, Pacific Security Scholars, and Pacific Young Leaders on Disarmament. The society also has almost 4,000 followers on Facebook.
About the Local Female Leaders Program
Through the Local Female Leaders Program, the Islands Society recognizes females from around the world who are thought leaders in their local communities. Under the program, the Islands Society selects a local female leader from a different island community each month. That local female leader is then provided the opportunity to share her insights on how the health and well-being of girls and women can be improved in her own community based on her own life experiences.
Rappler comes from the root words “rap” (to discuss) and “ripple” (to make waves). It is a unique social news network designed to share stories which inspire community engagement and digitally fueled actions for social change. Based in Manila, Philippines, Rappler is an innovative platform where news is curated by its users. Today, it is one of the biggest and fastest growing news networks in all of Asia.
About Maria Ressa
Maria has been a journalist in Asia for more than 25 years, most of them as CNN’s bureau chief in Manila then Jakarta. She became CNN’s lead investigative reporter focusing on terrorism in Southeast Asia and wrote “Seeds of Terror: An Eyewitness Account of al-Qaeda’s Newest Center of Operations in Southeast Asia” She then went on to found Rappler, which is one of the fastest growing social news networks in Southeast Asia. Despite documenting some of the worst disasters and uprisings in Southeast Asia, Ressa believes in the goodness of human nature and in the transformative powers of media and technology.