Cameras in hand: transformation and empowerment of Kyrgyzstani girls and boys
GPPAC together with Foundation for Tolerance International (FTI), GPPAC regional secretariat based in Kyrgyzstan have been awarded a grant from the UN Peacebuilding Fund on youth empowerment. The project started on 1st January 2018 and will last for a period of 18 month. GPPAC member Middle East Nonviolence and Democracy collaborates with FTI and GPPAC to provide training on the innovative methodology of participatory videos, which it successfully used in Palestine.
The project focuses on empowering Kyrgyzstani youth from different ethnic, gender and social backgrounds in the regions of Osh, Jalal-Abad, Chui and Batken to have a voice heard in local, national and international policy levels and to act as agents of change within their communities to foster understanding about the ‘other' and bring new insights to gender roles, norms and issues. To the reach these objectives and results, the participatory video (PV) methodology is the foundation of the project. It involves small groups of diverse preselected students that will steer a process of video production and screening sessions to capture the reaction of their communities/ other communities and youth from other regions. This process is very empowering as it requires youth to reach decisions (on the film topics and approach) through democratic discussions within a strong group dynamic where they have to build up trust and take turns in a variety of different roles (the one who acts, or films or edits etc.), all within a relatively strict structure that obliges them also to listen and become more aware of others while building their own self-awareness. This methodology can be a highly effective tool to bridge social, gender and ethnic divides and to engage and mobilise marginalised people. It also provides for a space to reflect on gender stereotypes and issues affecting women in Kyrgyzstan (early marriage, bride abduction etc.). The participative part of the methodology requires students to show their films to elicit and incorporate feedback by engaging with key stakeholders thereby creating a space for dialogue for them. Key stakeholders are 1) their peers 2) their community 3) local leaders and decision makers. This contributes to fostering mutual understanding by communicating across divides, thus bringing competing narratives together into a shared story. Participatory videos helps communities understand their social reality and gain new insights, particularly on ‘the other' and on gender. Local communities and politicians will vote on the films they can relate to the most. FTI and GPPAC will disseminate the selected films during policy events at the local (schools and communities), national (policy makers in Bishkek linked to youth policy) and international level (UNSCR 1325 and/or UNSCR 2250 and sharing lessons learnt with PBF and other UN actors). The objective of these engagements is for youth to feel included and heard in policymaking processes that affect them.
Interest in this year's Gender Youth Promotion Initiative (GYPI) fund was especially high and only the strongest 17 UN and CSO projects out of 245 applications were selected, allocating a total of $27,5 million to innovative gender-responsive and youth-inclusive peacebuilding projects in 13 countries. Of this, $16 million went to gender projects and $11 million to youth projects. Read more about this year's GYPI here.
Participatory video in Kyrgyzstan: Bridging divides in Kyrgyzstan
This is the story of Melis Azimov. A boy who grew up in the divided village Check-Abad in Kyrgyzstan. The village has experienced conflict for many years due to old divisions. The video was produced as part of the 'Cameras in Hands' project.