Video Volunteers Launches Communications Project with United Nations Development Programme-IKEA
Women in North India Gain a Voice by Documenting Their Struggles to Achieve Social, Economic, and Political Power
NEW YORK, Nov. 29, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – Joining forces with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Video Volunteers is implementing a one-of-a-kind communications and monitoring project in one of the poorest regions of India – Eastern Uttar Pradesh. Through this initiative, twenty rural women are learning video and radio production, as well as innovative uses of SMS, in order to document both the social and political challenges they witness around them as well as local successes. The women are able to monitor not only the impact of domestic violence, local corruption, and women’s exclusion from local government, but also the progress being seen in high savings rates, the creation of successful home businesses, and microcredit groups that empower the women socially and economically.
Video Volunteers, an international human rights and media organization, is launching this project as part of a joint UNDP-IKEA Foundation partnership in India called “Swaayam.“ Swaayam, from the Sanskrit term meaning “by oneself,” is an initiative designed to help women marshal greater social, economic, and political power. To date, more than 50,000 women have created 4,000 “self-help” groups in 500 villages in Eastern Uttar Pradesh, working to build financial literacy, business skill development, and local political bases. Video Volunteers is working with 200 of these women to document the accomplishments under Swaayam as well as the ongoing challenges these women face in breaking cultural and economic barriers in their impoverished communities.
Says Video Volunteers managing trustee Stalin K., “The project is not just about women documenting the microcredit groups but also about the women monitoring these programs. In traditional monitoring and evaluation, outside consultants are hired to measure whether the aid recipients have benefited. Why not have the women do this monitoring directly? They live in the villages and can track on a daily basis what is happening, enabling large amounts of information to be generated.”
Shefali Misra, program analyst at UNDP, says, “We’re excited to be working with Video Volunteers. Bringing media skills to poor rural women can be an important part of the empowerment process because it gives them a voice and a livelihood.”
Through this “bottom-up” communications strategy, twenty women will use photo, video, and radio to tell the world how they are working to achieve greater economic and political power, and 200 more will learn to use SMS to monitor their microcredit programs. “The documentation and evaluation of the program becomes, in itself, a vital element in the process of empowerment,” says Stalin K. “By rethinking the role that poor women can play in program documentation, Video Volunteers hopes to make the process of creating communications materials empowering in its own right.
“The women will become the eyes and ears of their community, and thus can better ‘own’ their stories. Rather than relying on outside filmmakers to document their struggles and successes, the women can produce media locally.”
The trainees, some of whom were unfamiliar with even a mobile phone, are responding well to the new technology and platform. Saroja Devi, the woman community producer from Jaunpur, made videos of several women from various self-help groups and villages in the project area. These rural women speak on camera about the impact microcredit has on their lives, including social, economic, and political change.
Reflects Saroja, “Can you imagine what would happen if that video is shared with other women under the project area in other villages? It could broaden the impact the program is having and lead to changes in other places as well.”
Vikas Ratanjee, program manager at Video Volunteers, says, “The women are entering a new phase of empowerment. With their cameras, they are bravely crossing many barriers in a very orthodox society. They have realized their responsibilities; soon they will be discovering new potential in themselves and in others.”
About Video Volunteers
Video Volunteers identifies, trains and empowers grassroots media producers who create change in and for voiceless communities in the developing world. The organization’s work has been recognized by the Knight News Challenge, Echoing Green, TED, Waldzell, the King of Belgium, UNESCO, YouTube, and others who have helped Video Volunteers elevate the voices of these rural communities.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the UN’s global development network, advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. It is on the ground in 177 countries and territories, working with governments and people on their own solutions to global and national development challenges.
About IKEA Social Initiative
The mission of the IKEA Social Initiative is to improve the rights and life opportunities of the many children – creating substantial and lasting change. IKEA Social Initiative works with UNICEF and Save the Children to promote the rights of every child to a healthy, secure childhood and access to quality education. Current IKEA Social Initiative projects will benefit an estimated 100 million children.
If you wish to speak with Jessica Mayberry, founder, Video Volunteers or Chair of the Board Davia Temin, please contact Suzanne Oaks of Temin and Company at 212-588-8788 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information on Video Volunteers please visit www.videovolunteers.org or follow us @twitter/video volunteers or fan us on Facebook/Video Volunteers.
For further information on the UNDP-IKEA initiative visit http://www.undp.org.in/power-collectives-UNDP-IKEA-Foundation-helps-women-change-rules.
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<font size=”2″ face=”Arial”>Jessica Mayberry
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SOURCE Video Volunteers