By: Matt Davies (Mexico)
A multitude of communication tools exist within the world of NGO advocacy, especially through multi-media and social networking sites, but how can these also be an opportunity for people in extreme poverty to get their views across?
I was recently at a workshop in La Paz, Bolivia, to learn about Participatory Video and how it can be used as an advocacy tool by groups who are tackling issues of injustice in order to create dialogue with decision-makers and the wider community around the issues they face. The idea around Participatory Video is that is can bring such issues from the private into the public domain, and go from an individual voice to a collective voice. As the name suggests, the process of identifying the issue to be presented, building the message and way for it be portrayed is participatory, with power lying in the hands of those with first-hand knowledge of the issues . The participants should ideally also be in control of the filming and editing of the video, therefore it is a tool that requires ample time in order for the participatory methodology to be meaningful and empowering. The process does not end though with the final editing of the video. Being an advocacy tool, the video itself is the means to bring people together to reflect on the issue presented and to generate dialogue around the collective reflections and solutions the video proposed.
At the workshop in La Paz, we were given the opportunity to put what we had learnt in terms of theory during 3 days into practice. A group of parents at the Casa de la Amistad, a community and cultural project run by the ATD Cuarto Mundo Bolivia, had agreed to meet with some of the participants to create a participatory video. The first step involved introducing the concept of participatory video and thinking about the issue that they felt was the most important for them and their community. The reflection very quickly turned towards the discrimination that people, especially women, face in domestic work. The group then thought how they could dramatise this situation, creating a fictional story based on their own reality of exploitation and finally thinking what solutions they could propose as a basis for discussion with those who would come to view the video.
The final result can be seen here.
It was quite remarkable how in just over two hours the group of parents had managed to grasp the concept of participatory video, think how they could use it as a tool to portray situations of injustice that they face, come up with reflections on how such injustices could be addressed and take part in the actual filming process.
Participatory video is not an end in itself but a means by which people in poverty can get across to a wide audience the issues they face, the ideas they have on how such issues can be addressed and then utilise the end product to generate debate and discussion with the wider population, and especially with those who have power and influence in order to bring about change. At a time when the term participation is banded about without due consideration of the conditions for it be carried out meaningfully, participatory video can be a tool by which people in poverty can take control of the process to share their knowledge and experience on how positive change can be brought about.