Tag Archives: human rights

A Gathering of Women

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Earlier this year, I became involved in the project Voices of Our Future with the organization World Pulse Media to help train women around the world to use social media as a tool for social change. A group of 31 women participated in an online training course in citizen journalism and I was honored to work with six of them as an Editorial Midwife, helping them research, write, and present their voices to a growing community.

The women I mentored came from Bolivia, Zimbabwe, Mexico, Alaska, Kenya, and Saudi Arabia. Over the months, our friendship grew and I learned what citizen journalism is really about as they wrote about life in their communities and they issues they face: female genital mutilation, access to information, youth suicide, social inequality, and other subjects. Many of these women struggle to sound their voice in the face of oppressive regimes or smothering patriarchs, but they are determined not to be silenced.

On Sunday, the women submitted their final articles and I was awed by the transformation that had taken place in the period of a few months. These women are emerging writers that are eager to share their experiences of life, their communities, and their struggles and successes as women in the world. I hope you’re listening.

Henry Jenkins on Participatory Culture

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In this video, Henry Jenkins, author of Convergence Culture and director of the Comparative Media Studies Program at MIT, discusses the role

“As we moved into the 20th Century […] images now belong to major media companies who claim exclusive ownership of it. What we’re seeing is in the digital age, as the public began to take media in its own hands and began to assert its right to retell those stories, the public are taking the media without the permission of copyright owners and innovating, experimenting, recontextualizing, responding to those images in new ways.”

He continues to discuss that this participatory culture has created a complex mediascape that has the potential to further propel the diversification of the world. Phone cameras, text messages and open forums have the potential not just to upend politics, reshape entertainment, and expose the life of the ‘average’ person, but it also can push forward human rights by offering a platform to the most oppressed segments of society.

Al Jazeera interview with ‘Fighting the Silence’ filmmakers

Dutch filmmakers Ilse and Femke van Velzen recently appeared on the Al Jazeera documentary channel Witness to discuss their 2007 film ‘Fighting the Silence’ about rape in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Presenter Rageh Omaar asked them how they were able to encourage the women to speak to them about an act that is considered so shameful in Congolese society. Isle and Femke respond that they found the women through local women activists. Because the women who had been raped trusted these activists, Isle and Femke were able to more easily create a bond of trust with them. Secondly, the women were told exactly why they would be doing the interviews. But the biggest motivation was that they wanted to share their story. Ilse and Femke state that they did not want to victimize the women. Yet, I wonder, how can they walk the fine line between not victimizing them women in order to show their real strength and needing to create sympathy within the audience? The goal of documentary films about human rights is not just to extend knowledge to the audience, but, I believe, to create action and encourage the audience to see what small part they can play in fighting for the right’s of others.