by Verena Bauer
How can the media be used to promote women’s rights? Which role do they play in the work of NGOs and what is the role of alternative media and social media? How can radio plays be used for awareness rising?
From 22nd to 24th of June 2013 thirty women from different African, European and Central American countries got together and focused on these questions within an international media training, organized by the Viennese women organization Frauensolidarität (Solidarity among Women).
This training offered the possibility to exchange experiences and to learn from each other. It also promoted the future cooperation between the different organizations which were presented. On the first day the activists represented themselves and their work, i.e. Vicky Ntetema from Tanzania who used to work as a Journalist for BBC talked about her engagement in albinism advocacy; Filomenita Høgsholm from the Philippines introduced the work of the international migration organization Babaylan; Triin Toomesaar from Estonia explained how she tries to strengthen women’s rights in her country. From the other side of the Atlantic, from the Dominican Republic, Cristiana Louisa Francisca and Rosanna Marzan spoke about their work within the women organization MUDAH (Movimiento de mujeres dominico-haitianos). Susanna Albarran informed about her radio activism in Spain and Ruth Nohemy Mejia Miranda talked about the situation of women in the maquilas in Honduras and how the organization of CODEMUH supports them to fight for their rights.
Some of the women also participated in the International Human rights Conference “Vienna +20”, an event organized in remembrance of the UN Human Rights
Conference held in Vienna in June 1993, which represented a landmark regarding the realization and advancement of human rights. During this UN Conference on Human Rights, for the first time the multiple forms of violence against women were broadly recognized as human rights violations. To remember this important progress in women right’s the evening event “Vienna+20: Women’s rights at stake?! Voices of international women’s rights activists” was organized.
But now back to the international media training in which women’s rights activists, media activists and international affairs students got together to learn from each other, get to know each others strategies and to strengthen the capacity to take actions.
The training included two workshops. The first one focused on the power of fiction.
Within the training the women learned how radio plays can be used to educate and raise awareness. As an exercise four plays were produced. The workshop was conducted by Seidy Salas Viquez from Costa Rica. She is a radio activist and works with “Colectiva por el Derecho a Decidir” (Collective for the Rights to Choose), a women’s organisation that deals with sexual and reproductive rights. She is an experienced trainer using radio drama to educate and raise awareness. Currently, she also works for the broadcast service of the Universidad de Costa Rica.
The second workshop was implemented by Valerie Msoka from Tanzania. She is the executive director of Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA), a women and child rights advocacy organisation in Tanzania and at international level. She has been a radio journalist and producer for BBC world service and Radio Tanzania and worked in different UN radio project developments in Sudan and Iraq. During one of her exercises the participants tried to find out, how NGOs and the media could improve their cooperation.
To spread a little bit of energy Valerie Msoka and Vicky Ntetema used a special method: they danced and sang with the participating women.
A gathering as such is not only important to make new connections with different women, but also to get new ideas on how we can fight for women’s rights in different ways. For example on how we can use media and how activists or NGO-staff can connect with journalists to inform the broader public.