A look into the project, “Media Literacy: Building Capacity and Social Empowerment of Girls”

By Shakhodat Saibnazarova

They gathered in a room, wondering about the next four weeks. They applied to the program mainly because they wanted some social interaction beyond school, but they were unfamiliar with the term “media literacy.” What would the next four weeks have in store for them?

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Sitora Shokamolova, one of the workshop trainers, leads a warm-up exercise.

The idea of this project came to us quite randomly. At the Alumni TIES seminar in Almaty, Kazakhstan in November 2019, we realized that media literacy education for teenage girls is not covered by any program in Tajikistan, yet this group is one of the most vulnerable segments of the population. Teenage girls often become victims of sexual and gender-based violence and are not aware of the risks around them. Funded through an Alumni TIES small grant from the U.S. Department of State, our project, “Media Literacy: Building Capacity and Social Empowerment of Girls” aims to build the capacity of girls to express their opinions and contribute to building a socio-economic environment that enables young girls to achieve greater protection from sexual and gender-based violence. The main focus of the project is to increase the girls’ skills to counter deliberately propagated false information on issues negatively affecting people’s perceptions, behavior, and decision-making. …


By Kakel Mbumb

After attending the Alumni Thematic International Exchange Seminar (Alumni TIES) seminar on “Strengthening Business and Trade for Women Entrepreneurs in Africa” in Accra, Ghana in June 2019, I received an Alumni TIES small grant from the U.S. Department of State. Through the grant, my project partner, Sylvia Banda from Zambia, and I created a community-based project titled, “Rural Women Agripreneurs Network Implementation for Cross Border Collaboration and Trade Exchange Settlement between Congolese and Zambian Agripreneurs” with a focus on agripreneurs based in Kilwa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which is located near the border of Zambia.

Rural women farmers of the Kilwa community in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are ill-equipped to implement a proper working management system for their cooperatives. They almost entirely remain on subsistence agricultural practices and are unable to improve production cost and develop a sustainable value chain process for their rice, maize, and soybeans. In the past three years, rural women farmers of the Kilwa community experienced some loss on production, and surveys reported that this was due to an improper management system of production, harvest, transformation, and distribution as farmers are unable to upgrade their activities, stuck in a cycle of subsistence agriculture with limited skills affecting their results in the field. …


By Irene Mirembe

The idea to engage and educate women in pathways to sustainable economic development originated from a lively discussion in Accra, Ghana during the Alumni Thematic International Exchange Seminar (Alumni TIES) on “Strengthening Business and Trade for Women Entrepreneurs in Africa” in June 2019.

In collaboration with fellow Alumni TIES participants, Nomuntu Ndhlovu from South Africa and Thubelihle Ndlovu from Zimbabwe, we devised the Empower Women, Transform Uganda project (EWTU), which was funded through an Alumni TIES small grant from the U.S. Department of State. …


By Nomuntu Ndhlovu

In June 2019, I attended the Alumni Thematic International Exchange Seminar (Alumni TIES) on “Strengthening Business and Trade for Women Entrepreneurs in Africa” in Accra, Ghana. Following the seminar, I received an Alumni TIES small grant from the U.S. Department of State and used the funds to enact change in my community in South Africa. Taking place in the Nkomazi Municipality, “Financial Inclusion South Africa,” aims to assist 40 rural trading women to grow their businesses through financial literacy workshops, focusing on topics such as business development, business planning, and financial management.

I collaborated with two of my fellow Alumni TIES participants, Irene Mirembe from Uganda, and Thubelihle Ndlovu from Zimbabwe, to teach the participants business and financial management skills. The women who took part in the training were informal traders working in farming, beauty product distribution, fashion design, salons, and much more. They expressed their gratitude and satisfaction with the necessary skills that they were learning to expand and formalize their businesses. …


By Ellen Pearlman

In December 2019, I attended the U.S. Department of State-sponsored Alumni Thematic International Exchange Seminar (Alumni TIES) on “Arts, Culture, and Transforming Conflict” in Santa Fe, New Mexico. At the seminar I met Jonathan Hollander, director of Battery Dance Company in New York City who was one of the alumni facilitators. As part of the seminar, we were encouraged to come up with collaborative ideas for an Alumni TIES small grant project. Jonathan and I came up with the idea of “Dance for Transformation,” working with dancers wearing biometric sensors on their body who would then interact with audience members as part of the outdoor 39th Battery Dance Festival in New York City. I would use the framework of Art-A-Hack™, a collaborative methodology I developed that uses open calls to source technical and creative talent with team co-creation fostering the development of both the technology and its aesthetics. …


U.S. and international exchange alumni gathered for the first-ever global TIES to strengthen democracies through media literacy education ahead of Media Literacy Week 2020.

When the Alumni Thematic International Exchange Seminar (Alumni TIES) program gathered for “Shaping the Global Narrative on Media Literacy,” the seminar experienced its first truly global assembly, with 55 participants from 39 different countries across six world regions. The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a swift transition from an in-person to a virtual meeting — a change that allowed for a more international seminar and more diversity in the range of speakers and participants. In-depth conversations with media literacy experts, as well as representatives from the U.S. …


By Farzana Ali

Journalism in Pakistan is historically a conservative and a male-dominated career field, leaving very few opportunities for women journalists. This inequity is especially seen in the traditionally conservative Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA districts. Currently, the media industry is in a state of flux and there are no job opportunities available within mainstream media organizations, which are presently undergoing massive downsizing due to a financial crunch. Within this context, it is important to build digital media literacy, in particular, content development skills of young women, who can then use this medium to create their own content and gain access to opportunities outside of mainstream media. …


By Shahla Islam

Working in an ailing and exclusionary film industry with high barriers to entry, Bangladeshi filmmakers often find themselves struggling to maintain careers and foster new and inclusive ideas in film. Women filmmakers are even more susceptible to leaving the industry due to unfavorable environments. Recognizing these inequities, my project team and I developed the concept for the “Workshop on Encouraging Film and Web Content on Social Issues.”

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Project Flyer designed by Syed Minhaj Hossain

We started this project after I attended the Alumni Thematic International Exchange Seminar (Alumni TIES) that took place in Almaty, Kazakhstan in November 2019 on the topic of “Women in Media: Creating Networks for Social Change.” After the seminar, I was awarded with an Alumni TIES small grant from the U.S. Department of State, and my project team, Afia Pina, Syed Minhaj Hossain, and Fatema Reza, and I enacted a dynamic workshop for emerging filmmakers in Bangladesh. The training offered an advanced level training for young Bangladeshi filmmakers who have basic knowledge, potential, and creativity to make quality media content on social issues. …


By Keri Moe

On August 3, 2019, the vibrant border community of El Paso, Texas suffered a heart-breaking mass shooting by a gunman whose actions were fueled by intolerance and hatred. While our community has risen “El Paso Strong” in solidarity, cultural chasms were exposed as we began the process of recovery. This unthinkable event emphasized the need for programming in resilience — adapting in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, or other significant sources of stress and finding tools to overcome those hardships. As a result, the Resilience Art Project (RAP) was created. …


By Annelene Timmermans

The activities described in this article took place before the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ Temporary Pause of International Exchange Programs Due to COVID-19.

Since September 1, 2019, secondary school teachers in Flanders, located in the northern federated state of Belgium, have been implementing new curricula designed by the government. One of the focal points of this curricula modernization is media literacy education. The goal of the media literacy curriculum is for all Flemish pupils, aged 12 and above, to understand the effects of digital communication on their society and themselves, apply privacy rules correctly in the digital world, and assess possible risks that their online behavior has on themselves and others. …

About

Alumni TIES

Alumni Thematic International Exchange Seminars (Alumni TIES) are regionally focused seminars for alumni of U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs.

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