• Saturday, November 28, 2015
  • A program of IPS Inter Press Service supported by the Dutch MDG3 Fund

    Contributing to Gender Equality through Creative Methodologies – Isis-WICCE @CSW55

    Since 1974, Isis-WICCE has continued to promote communication mechanisms amongst women to address violence against women and promote gender equality.  This was reflected through Isis-WICCE’s presentations during the 55th Commission on the Status of Women on Access and Participation of Women and Girls to Education, Science and Technology’.

    Isis-WICCE uses ICTs as a strategy to reclaim women’s human rights. The documentation of women’s experiences of war and peace using video documentaries and digital stories, has contributed to a database of women’s history of war and a record of women’s home grown solutions to peace. The tools are also critical to social change as they show the human face of armed conflict; show indisputable evidence of abuse in advocating for justice and end to impunity; and legitimize violence against women as a crime.  The documentation of women’s peace initiatives affirms the indigenous peace work and the need for women to be at formal peace negotiation processes.  Isis-WICCE has also been accessing technology to women [refugees, professional groupings, first time users] with its first-ever women’s ICT public access [internet café] in Kampala, Uganda.

    Women trained in the public access and in the Exchange programme institute have been able to perform skits and package video-drama to sensitise communities on dangers of violence; and use radio to run programmes for awareness creation.  Further more, Isis-WICCE uses simultaneous interpretation equipment to facilitate bilingual communication of anglo-phone and franco-phone speaking women leaders from conflict regions to share survival strategies; and has used mobile applications and social media blogging to address vulnerabilities for women infected with HIV/AIDS.

    In addressing challenges faced by women with HIV/AIDs, an advocacy message sent to community leaders by women trained in use of mobile telephone applications reads, thus:

    Clan leaders, we call upon you to respect the rights of widows, they have a right to own property. Stop men from grabbing property from widows and orphans [translated from local language]

    Education remains a key driver of economic growth and social change.  Through creative learning and education methodologies, Isis-WICCE has realized shifts in knowledge, skills and behaviour in its peace building and conflict transformation programme with women leaders in S.Sudan. This has in part enhanced the realization of MDG3 [on the need to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment by reducing disparity in education].  Isis-WICCE worked with over 60 women leaders to build their capacities towards being change agents in S.Sudan’s post-conflict processes [2009-to date]. A number of training methodologies were employed to ensure a favourable learning environment for women.

    The methods of delivering training included: undertaking training needs assessment to inform the training modules; use of popular training methodologies such as codes and skits; having women-only space for participants to speak up in a non-intimidating atmosphere; and listening to the participants as part of their healing process on their traumatic experiences of war.

    Other methodologies were: hosting field exchange visits to strategic institutions and sites to acquire coping mechanisms; carrying out centering sessions and meditation processes to raise participants’ spiritual consciousness to development work and recommit them to the work they are doing in the communities; held cross-cultural dances for women to be in touch with their traditions even if many had been displaced from their communities by war; follow-up and support to women over the practical use of the skills; as well as the use of learning-by-doing approach, where women had the opportunity to implement field activities using the skills acquired from the training programme and as a way of giving aback to communities. The above methodologies contributed to a holistic learning and education approach that enabled women leaders to internalize and be able to transfer the skills in their communities.  Fifteen women on the training programmme have already taken up political leadership while others continued to undertake new activities on peace building, involving over 6,000 people in the communities of S.Sudan. In appreciating the programme, one woman leader stated that:

    ..Thank you for allowing me to perform and making other participants dance to my cultural music.  My tribe is a minority as many of our people were killed in war and others have migrated, our tribe is nearly extinct.  I felt good, loved and respected by this gesture.

    The twin-strategies of documentation [using ICTs] and education have contributed to access and participation of women and girls to education, training and technology.  By using international frameworks such as BPfA, UNSCR1325 and MDG3, Isis-WICCE continues to address the challenges faced by women in armed and post conflict settings, and link their issues, voices, concerns and resilience to debates taking places at international levels.

    These interventions have been made possible by the various development partners of Isis-WICCE.

    By Harriet Musoke

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