by Lisa Giessauf
Women from around the world were participating in a media workshop in London in April 2012. I had the wonderful opportunity to be a part of this great project, I learned a lot about women in media and got to know very interesting women from different countries. As I’m working for the independent radio station “Radio Orange” in Vienna, more precisely for the radio- group “Women on Air” I created a radio- show about the workshop in London. You can listen to it in our archive at http://noso.at/?p=2851. For those who also want to read about what I learned and whom I met in London, you can continue to read this blog.
The media- workshop by and for women was organized by two organizations, one based in Vienna, the other one in London. The Viennese organization, called “Frauensolidarität” translated in English to “Solidarity among women”, is a feminist library, journal and research institute which contributes to research and public work about and with women from Africa, Asia and Latin America. “Solidarity among women” also cooperates with the feminist radio group “Women on Air”. The second organization located in London is called CAWN, the short version for “Central American Women’s Network”.
There were three different workshops presented on this media seminary. The first one was about written and oral stories by women. The facilitator was Lindsey Collen from South Africa, who is an author and writes about women and their realities they live in. 1994 Lindsey Collen won the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for the Category best novel from Africa with her novel “Sita” and again five years later for “Boy”. After the “creative- writing- workshop” Lindsey was very fascinated by all the stories the women produced.
Lindsey emphasizes the importance for women to find their own voices, to speak in their mother tongue, which is also the voice of a woman’s ancestors. In finding one’s own voice she sees the possibility for women to start talking and fighting for their rights, desires and wishes. Lindsey thinks that oral story telling is very important, because it has been the form of communication for centuries and shouldn’t be forgotten.
The other workshops were held by two great women who also fight for women’s rights by using media as a tool. One of them was Marian Larragy, who works for the Camden Community radio network in London and the other one was Jamileth Chavarría, who is the founder of the radio station „Women’s voice“ in Nicaragua.
For my radio show I also made interviews with three participants of the media workshop in London. Beatriz Campos Mansilla is working in a women’s organization in Madrid which focuses on young women’s and girl‘s rights. Ishrat Khan was born in Bangladesh and is now studying in the United Kingdom. Her wish is to work and fight for women’s rights in her country as soon as she is finished studying. Both of the two young, self- confident women liked the media-workshop a lot and planned on using the learned tools for their aims. Rani Bilkhu was another interviewed woman who participated in the media workshop. Her ancestors lived in India and Kenia, but she is now living in the UK with her family. She is the founder of the women’s organizations Jeena, where young women and girls can learn about car maintenance, djaning, driving, dancing and many other different areas.
Altogether the workshop was a great opportunity to network with other women from around the world, to start cooperations and to share ideas about how media can be used as a tool for more gender equality and women’s rights. The most important outcome for me was the awareness that finding your own voice is a main mission to be able to speak for rights for oneself and also other. Like postcolonial theories highlight the unfairness of western feminism to speak about and for women from the countries of the South, it became very clear to me that every person should learn and be allowed to speak with her own voice, and especially in her own mother tongue.