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Training Video Correspondents

04 October 2015 Share: facebook share twitter share

From 29 September – 4 October, PACS funded a workshop bringing together 132 Community Correspondents from 13 states (including 58 PACS Community Correspondents) to help them to develop their skills to expose issues of injustice, especially on the theme of gender, through the medium of videography. The event was run by PACS partner Video Volunteers.

Community Correspondents pose with Bollywood star Abhay Deol at the training event in Goa.

Giving a voice to the voiceless

Marginalised voices are severely under-represented in India’s mainstream media - just 2% of media coverage is given to rural issues and 6 of the biggest channels didn't have a single rural story for 2 months in a study conducted last year.

PACS partner Video Volunteers teaches video journalism skills to a network of Community Correspondents, helping them to expose issues and injustices affecting their communities. These Community Correspondents are making sure that this “other” India is heard, loud and clear.

PACS is currently supporting 63 Community Correspondents across 7 states and is training them to produce videos on the issues of violence against women, girls’ education and women’s employment under the MGNREGA employment scheme.

Spotting sexism in everyday life

The second phase of the PACS project with the Community Correspondents Network is focused on gender, and so a major part of the training focused on helping the Correspondents to better understand gender equality and how to identify and portray gender-related to stories in their communities.

Since patriarchy is so entrenched and normalised within Indian society, the first day of the conference (29 September) involved helping the Community Correspondents to uncover the biases in their own community’s traditions. Abha Bhaiya from the South Asian Feminist Network and One Billion Rising, and Nandita Shah from Akshara, Mumbai led a session on “Spotting Patriarchy and Sexism in Every Day Life”. 

Abha and Nandita involved the Correspondents in various exercises including mimicking a girl walking down an empty road at night and a boy walking the same path, figuring out what was called “men's work” and what was called “women's work” and looking at how men and women are expected to behave in everyday situations. For example, one Correspondent from the Munda tribe in Jharkhand revealed that only men were selected as leaders in his community.

Filming issues of violence against women and girls

On 30 September, the Correspondents built on their learnings and discussions from the previous day to explore how everyday patriarchy fuels violence against women.

The correspondents participated in exercises that helped them to understand how upbringing and patriarchal traditions and institutions condition men to be emotionless, violent and abusive while women are taught to tolerate abuse and violence.

Stalin K – Director of Video Volunteers – then led a training on "Filming the Patriarchal Mindset", helping the Community Correspondents to think about how to convert everyday occurrences of gender discrimination into strong videos. 

A video report by Varsha (one of the PACS Community Correspondents from Bihar) was screened showing the story of a horrific acid attack on a 15 year old girl after she refused the advances of a suitor.

The screening was followed by an engaging discussion on how to make videos more impactful by mentioning the laws that are violated in reports on rape and acid attacks. Tips and advice were exchanged on how to use legal provisions to help get justice for survivors.

 This video by PACS Community Correspondent Varsha was screened at the workshop as an example of a story on violence against women and girls.

Documenting MGNREGA and education stories

On 1 October, the Community Correspondents broke into 3 groups dedicated to 3 issues - one on violence against women, one on the MGNREGA employment scheme and one on Right to Education - based on their interests as journalists.

The groups allowed Community Correspondents to have focused and meaningful conversations in smaller groups with trainers and experts, helping them to come up with concrete strategies on how to use videos to aid activism work and spark change in the context of these issues.

"MGNREGA, being a large-scale programme, has a lot of issues regarding lack of accountability and poor implementation in some places," explained Rajpal - PACS Programme Manager for MGNREGA - who co-led the MGNREGA thematic session. "Community Correspondents can use video to highlight these, but also to capture the positive change stories and showcase the impact of MGNREGA, particularly on the lives of socially excluded communities." 

Rajpal also suggested that it would be good for the Correspondents to capture the PACS Integrated Participatory Planning Exercise process on the ground, showing how socially excluded communities are being included in the MGNREGA planning process. 

Mihir Mohanty - PACS Programme Manager for Education - helped to facilitate the Education discussion, sharing how children who are female, dalit, tribal, Muslim and/or disabled are more likely to experience discrimination in schools. "It was a good platform to discuss and highlight the issues related to social exclusion practices happening in education," he reflected. "The Community Correspondents are now planning to make videos about how School Management Committees are strengthening school governance, the impact of closing-down government schools and to track the progress of School Development Plans."

Rajpal from PACS runs a session on MGNREGA, helping Community Correspondents to better understand how they can identify and film stories on this theme. Rajpal from PACS runs a session on MGNREGA, helping Community Correspondents to better understand how they can identify and film stories on this theme.

A special guest

On the remaining days, the Community Correspondents received training on other issues. These included a session on “Women and the Law” led by Gayatri Singh (a Senior SC Lawyer with Human Rights Law Network) and a session on the importance of reliable data and statistics led by data journalism group IndiaSpend. Bloomberg also conducted a re-cap training session on the basic fundamentals of factual reporting and good, unbiased journalism.

To end the training, the Community Correspondents were given the opportunity to meet a special guest - Bollywood film actor Abhay Deol (Video Volunteers Brand Ambassador). He gave out awards for the best videos produced by the Community Correspondents with categories including Best Impact, Most Consistent Community Correspondent and Best Quality.

PACS Community Correspondents Tanju Devi, Shanti Baraik and Aarti Bai Valmik won the award for being the most consistent Community Correspondents. All 3 women have worked patiently and dedicatedly with communities and officials for months to achieve impact.

With so many success stories, new ideas and energy for change, all of the Community Correspondents left the event inspired, proudly wearing their "Shoot Injustice On Sight" T-shirts as they aim to do just that armed with their video flip-cams.

Bollywood actor Abhay Deol hands out prizes to 3 of our Community Correspondents - Tanju, Arti and Shanti - who won the award for being the most consistent Community Correspondents. Bollywood actor Abhay Deol hands out prizes to 3 of our Community Correspondents - Tanju, Arti and Shanti - who won the award for being the most consistent Community Correspondents.

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