Looking Beyond: How does Participatory Video affect women's agency as citizens


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This is my presentation on my PhD work, which I recently presented at the International Visual Methods Conference.

It looks at two organisations in India and how participation of women in the PV initiative have affected their agency as citizens

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Looking Beyond: How does Participatory Video affect women's agency as citizens

  1. 1. Looking Beyond : How does Participatory Video affect the agency of women? - Namita Singh
  2. 2. Participatory Video - a process <ul><li>The seeds were sown - Fogo Process… </li></ul><ul><li>A long journey from the 60s to today - its various forms, facets and effects, including its use in fields like, anthropology, community development, social research to PRA </li></ul><ul><li>From isolated to extensive usage - in different parts of the world, in different forms, with different communities and gradually, in an organisational context </li></ul><ul><li>Extensive research and literature written by eminent scholars and researchers on initiatives and theories from across the world </li></ul>
  3. 3. The Journey with PV <ul><li>A little on the background </li></ul><ul><li>Obvious Interests </li></ul><ul><li>The choices </li></ul><ul><li>The Decision </li></ul><ul><li>My Research - Intent and Objectives </li></ul>
  4. 4. Why Gender <ul><li>THE GENDER SKEW - women disadvantaged in most communities </li></ul><ul><li>The CONFLICT - participation and unaddressed power structures </li></ul><ul><li>The CHALLENGE - gender mainstreaming in development policies </li></ul><ul><li>The URGENT NEED - To balance the equation for women participation </li></ul>“… girls are not allowed to go outside so much, that ’s why such a project should be with girls. Earlier we were scared to join this training. I never came in front of the camera. I never did it because of fear...” - Reshma, Mahita (Hyderabad)
  5. 5. Why India <ul><li>Acute gender-based marginalization </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple contexts within different communities in the same country </li></ul><ul><li>Strong interventions from the government, international aid agencies and the civil society </li></ul><ul><li>Extensive use of Participatory Approaches with several PV initiatives in different contexts with tangible results </li></ul>Photo: waveindia.org
  6. 6. Research Questions <ul><li>Main research question : </li></ul><ul><li>How does Participatory Video affect the agency of women as citizens? </li></ul><ul><li>Subsidiary questions : </li></ul><ul><li>What personal changes does participation in PV bring about in women? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the nature and extent of participation in these PV initiatives? </li></ul><ul><li>In what different ways, is their agency built and expressed through the process? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the understanding of women, about their ability to initiate change? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the challenges in supporting and sustaining the agency of women via PV? </li></ul>
  7. 7. Methodology and Methods <ul><li>Research Approach </li></ul><ul><li>Participatory Research </li></ul><ul><li>Constructionism </li></ul><ul><li>Qualitative </li></ul><ul><li>Case Study Approach </li></ul><ul><li>Methods </li></ul><ul><li>Participatory Observation </li></ul><ul><li>Interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Focus Group Discussions </li></ul><ul><li>Participatory Video </li></ul><ul><li>Reading Media Text </li></ul>
  8. 8. The Data Collection <ul><li>3 phases : </li></ul><ul><li>Pilot Study </li></ul><ul><li>Detailed Study </li></ul><ul><li>Follow-up process </li></ul><ul><li>Ethics : </li></ul><ul><li>Ethic Guidelines </li></ul><ul><li>Issues </li></ul>
  9. 9. Ground Zero <ul><li>Akshara -Mumbai : . </li></ul><ul><li>“ Th e aim of our work is to make films, show it to people and create awareness through the medium of these films. I feel that after we show the film to people, and take up the issue, it should lead to something.” - Sandhya, Akshara (Mumbai) </li></ul><ul><li>Work Approach - Questioning gender relations, masculinity and patriarchy </li></ul><ul><li>Community Description - Women and youth </li></ul><ul><li>PV Initiative - CVU Model </li></ul><ul><li>Execution Strategy - Using videos to mobilize campaigns </li></ul><ul><li>Mahita - Hyderabad: </li></ul><ul><li>“ People comment when we go out with bags and camera. They say that girls are not good enough to do anything else than to cook food. We answer that if you have the courage, then try and do what we are doing.” - Shakera, Mahita (Hyderabad) </li></ul><ul><li>Work Approach - Rights-based work with empowerment strategies </li></ul><ul><li>Community Description - Children and young women </li></ul><ul><li>PV Initiative - Girls’ Media project </li></ul><ul><li>Execution Strategy - Using videos for local community screenings and advocacy </li></ul>
  10. 10. PV @ Akshara <ul><li>The gendered setting </li></ul><ul><li>Participants bring in women’s perspective, like, understanding oppression in their own context. </li></ul><ul><li>Participants do not adhere to work and expertise on the basis of gender. </li></ul><ul><li>They challenge popular gender roles, while working with technology and issues. </li></ul><ul><li>Initiation and training </li></ul><ul><li>Adversities faced by participants for doing ‘non-respectable work’, initially. </li></ul><ul><li>Intensive year-long training with a participatory approach to make them skilful. </li></ul><ul><li>Participant expectations though, often are different from projects goals. </li></ul><ul><li>Making Videos </li></ul><ul><li>Video format and content decided through intensive discussions, mostly by the organisation’s protagonists, leaving little say by the participants. </li></ul><ul><li>Focus has gradually shifted to more core gender issues. </li></ul><ul><li>Working with the community </li></ul><ul><li>Initially, started working with 25 slum communities but eventually stopped. </li></ul><ul><li>Engagement deeply linked to participants’ sense of agency. </li></ul><ul><li>Organisational Context </li></ul><ul><li>Organisation not a grassroots one. </li></ul><ul><li>Participants as staff of the organisation. </li></ul><ul><li>Videos used for larger campaigns for wider reach and impact. </li></ul>
  11. 11. PV @ Mahita <ul><li>The gendered setting </li></ul><ul><li>All-women participants help in bringing ‘more sensitivity’ to issues, in videos. </li></ul><ul><li>All-women participants also ensure spaces to share experiences of oppression. </li></ul><ul><li>Initiation and Training </li></ul><ul><li>Organisation steps in to help participants in power negotiations prior to joining. </li></ul><ul><li>Modular format of participatory training, focusing on self-reflection. </li></ul><ul><li>Participants’ aspirations considered along with organisation’s objectives. </li></ul><ul><li>Making Videos </li></ul><ul><li>Participants make videos on their, and other women’s experiences. </li></ul><ul><li>Videos also made based on community’s demands. </li></ul><ul><li>Working with the community </li></ul><ul><li>Increased engagement with local community, through screenings, etc.. </li></ul><ul><li>Space created to address gender issues in immediate local context. </li></ul><ul><li>Organisational Context </li></ul><ul><li>Largely a grassroots organisation. </li></ul><ul><li>Participants not part of staff in the formal organisational structure. </li></ul><ul><li>Organisation committed to increased work with the local community through PV. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Building Agency <ul><li>“ I am a woman myself, and if I can make a film for someone, from which she gets an emotional support, then there can be nothing bigger. ” Samata, Akshara (Mumbai). </li></ul><ul><li>Individual agency is built through the entire process, and exercised via: </li></ul><ul><li>raising issues and looking at them through the gender lens. </li></ul><ul><li>presenting & communicating gender perspectives effectively through videos. </li></ul><ul><li>challenging the gender constructs through videos and post-work. </li></ul><ul><li>building gender-sensitive spaces, while initiating a scope for sharing. </li></ul><ul><li>advocating and campaigning for policy changes for gender mainstreaming. </li></ul><ul><li>Participation as citizens in governance via: </li></ul><ul><li>Advocacy on issues </li></ul><ul><li>Influencing framing of issues </li></ul><ul><li>Re-positioning self with state actors </li></ul>
  13. 13. The Experiences At Akshara: At Mahita: ” We know that if something happens to anyone then we can stand up ” – Rohina, Akshara (Mumbai) “… Magazines should have an impact. This basti didn't have a toilet, but after showing our film they got one. That process should be there.” – Sandhya, Akshara (Mumbai) “ When we joined everyone thought these people need to be empowered. We were from the ‘community’…We have moved from there, people’s thinking has not.” ” – Sandhya, Akshara (Mumbai) “ We are now doing things which even boys don ’t do. We are bringing a lot of change..” – Shakeela, Mahita (Hyderabad) “ We didn’t leave the issue at all. Now the school is getting build there. Maybe it is complete as well&quot; – Shakera, Mahita Hyderabad) We can change from one area to another to another community and change the world .We can do this now, we have it in us – Yasmeen, Mahita (Hyderabad)
  14. 14. Sustaining Agency <ul><li>Sustaining agency pivots on: </li></ul><ul><li>Considering and understanding marginalisation in the participant’s/local context </li></ul><ul><li>Clarity in the role, nature and extent of participation </li></ul><ul><li>Nature of training and skill-building </li></ul><ul><li>Participant’s role and say, while choosing issues </li></ul><ul><li>Participant’s role during video-making </li></ul><ul><li>Participant’s interface and relationship with the community </li></ul><ul><li>Structured and optimised organisational systems and work culture </li></ul><ul><li>Creating and planning opportunities for the participants </li></ul>
  15. 15. What’s next?