Rita Henley Jensen

I began to try to freelance while I figured out how to use journalism to advance women’s rights. If we think U.S. women’s issues are not covered, international women’s issues aren’t covered at all either.

— Rita Henley Jensen

Rita Henley Jensen

As a longtime advocate for women, Rita Henley Jensen goes to work every day hoping to bring more attention to women’s issues around the world.

Rita is founder and editor-in-chief of Women’s eNews and Arabic Women’s eNews.

“A lot of people like Women’s eNews because we are international,” she said. “And if we think U.S. women’s issues are not covered, international women’s issues aren’t covered at all, either. And so we are the source of international news.”

Born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1947, Rita earned her master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and her bachelor’s degree at Ohio State University. She began her journalism career at the Paterson Evening News in New Jersey.

Throughout her career, she has also worked for the National Law Journal, the Stamford Advocate, and American Lawyer. In 1994, she was selected as the Alicia Patterson fellow and investigated the role of major U.S. law firms in the 1990s financial crisis. She also deepened her commitment to writing about poverty and “real life women’s issues.” She joined JAWS in 1997 with the encouragement of Betsy Wade.

During her oral history, Rita shares a number of stories about the challenges she faced as a woman journalist.

“I can remember being in a meeting about the website [of one workplace], and I could say something [but was] totally ignored,” she said. “And then some guy would say something and it was like, “Oh, great idea.”

Today, based in New York City, Rita is committed to journalism that benefits women and hopes to be remembered as “somebody who asked questions that were not asked and, therefore, changed the nature of news and the nature of women’s lives.”

On a snowy day in December 2013, we conducted Rita’s oral history in her New York City apartment.

( This interview was conducted by Teri Finneman )