YouTube, touting itself as a platform that empowers women across the globe, has launched a new initiative to fund and promote content from female creators.
The Google-owned video giant program has financed more than 50 videos spotlighting women’s perspectives, shot at YouTube Spaces studios around the world. YouTube also struck a yearlong partnership with the United Nations, which has enlisted seven top YouTube female creators as “change ambassadors” to create videos promoting tolerance and gender equality.
In addition, YouTube has partnered with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, the thesp’s nonprofit org whose mission is to improve gender depictions on-screen and create opportunities for women behind the camera. The group provided consulting to creators as part of YouTube Spaces program.
YouTube’s femme-focused foray, launched ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, comes as studies show Hollywood continues to lag in employing women directors and depicting female characters and that pay gaps persist between men and women in the biz.
“We need more strong female voices represented in media so that this gender balance becomes normal to the young girls who are turning on their screens,” said Geena Davis. “By taking this step to empower and represent more female voices on YouTube, I hope that more young girls and women around the world can be inspired to be part of the creative community.”
YouTube’s championing of women creators isn’t purely altruistic, of course. The service stands to reap ad revenue from the content, and the initiative also is a carrot to persuade stars to keep producing original material for YouTube.
The YouTube Spaces productions, designed to showcase women talent both in front of and behind the camera, were filmed over the last few months on sets constructed specifically for the initiative in Los Angeles, London, Tokyo, New York, Sao Paulo and Berlin.
The inaugural women-led YouTube Space program will feature videos from Michelle Phan, GloZell, Ali Brustofski, Flavia Calina, Olhos de Nuvens, Ochikeron, mirellativegal and others. Those will span a range of topics and genres, including women in the workforce, health, science, engineering to music, comedy and scripted content.
“YouTube has always been a platform where women of all ages and backgrounds can find their voice and tell their stories,” YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said in a statement. “Through our global YouTube Spaces program and new partnership with the U.N., we’ll strengthen female voices on YouTube and around the world.”
As part of the program, YouTube appointed six top creators — Anna Akana (U.S.), Alexys Fleming (U.S.), Julia Veiga Faria (Brazil), Em Ford (U.K.), Nilam Farooq (Germany) and Kuma Miki (Japan) — as creative directors with the goal of mentoring emerging creators who also participated in the global video shoots.
Under the U.N. partnership, the seven international female YouTube “change ambassadors” will urge their fans to support issues surrounding gender equality. The creators recruited for the program are Ingrid Nilsen (U.S.), Jackie Aina (U.S.), Yuya (Mexico), Taty Ferreira (Brazil), Hayla Ghazal (United Arab Emirates), Louise Pentland (U.K.) and Chika Yoshida (Japan).
“We hope to work with these millennial role models to turn influence into action that is both measurable and building capacity at the U.N.,” said Mitchell Toomey, director of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals Action Campaign.
Videos from the program will begin rolling out starting Wednesday on the YouTube Spaces channel, as well as the creators’ own channels. Watch YouTube’s “100 Years of Incredible Women” video tribute to historical female figures, featuring top YouTubers:
Pictured above, l. to r.: Em Ford, Anna Akana, Nilam Farooq, Kuma Miki, Alexys Fleming, Julia Veiga Faria (Jout Jout), GloZell Green