Between Their Stories and Our Realities -- Chapter 1

 

III. Training Units

The situations presented in the eight videos are based on true stories. They recount violations of women's and girls' human rights that actually happened and are still happening in different parts of the world. As such, the stories portray a real account of human rights violations suffered by women.

A chapter has been developed for each video. We have divided each chapter into four sections, related to four types of activities: raising awareness and sensitivity; analysis and in-depth study of certain concepts; elaboration of strategies for change; and evaluation. In each section several proposals are offered to create a number of training options. Each coordinator will be able to select activities that she or he considers most useful or appropriate, modify them, or plan other activities.

A. Raising Awareness and Sensitivity

Activities in this section are designed to facilitate personal reflections and responses to the videos. By discussing feelings triggered by certain images and dialogue in the videos, it is possible to establish relationships between characters in the video and the participants, grounding the stories in personal experiences of discrimination.

B. Analysis and Comprehension

These activities facilitate a deeper understanding of the video's content and introduce concepts like HUMAN RIGHTS, GENDER, DISCRIMINATION, WORK, EDUCATION, HEALTH, VIOLENCE, POVERTY, DEVELOPMENT and CITIZENSHIP. They allow time to think about human rights and the provisions of the Women's Convention.

C. Strategies for Change

These activities are designed to help participants develop and explore possible proposals to change situations of discrimination, and to use community resources to defend their human rights.

D. Evaluation

These activities facilitate participants' evaluation of the workshop, videos, and Convention. An evaluation form is included in Appendix C of this manual.


Chapter 1: Another Look

The video Another Look tells the story of Adela, a rural woman's, daily life, and that of her eldest daughter and two younger children. Adela is married to an authoritarian and abusive husband. She, like many rural women, not only works long days doing housework and caring for the children, but also works on the farm and produces homemade foods that she sells in a nearby village. Nonetheless, her work is not registered in national records, which only consider the formal work of men as the head of a household. Her contribution remains invisible. She is also semi-literate and does not have proper access to health services. The scenario unfolds from her sister'>s perspective, a single woman who lives in the city.

Approximate duration: 15 minutes.

How is the story of Another Look related to the Women's Convention?

Another Look outlines many of the general problems and human rights issues addressed in the Women's Convention. In particular, it relates to Article 14 and the rights of rural women, Article 5 dealing with stereotypical division of roles based on sex, and Articles 10, 12, and 16 dealing with education, health and family life and marriage, respectively.

A. Raising Awareness and Sensitivity

Possible activities:

Discussing Emotions

Participants can express, in turn, the first emotion they felt when they met Adela and Marķa, the two main characters of the video. These can be listed on two posters, which will allow for the visualization of different feelings and contradictions.

The coordinator can read the group's responses and initiate a discussion. Participants can share opinions, analysis, interpretations, and anything else believed to be pertinent to the video.

Circle of Appreciation

The coordinator can ask participants to form a circle, and she or he can provide various triggering phrases. In response to each phrase, a participant can say the first word that comes to mind. Then the circle can continue until everyone has had a turn.

Some examples of possible triggering phrases:

Adela's life ...

A day in Adela'>s life ...

Options in Adela's life and opportunities ...

Adela's husband ...

The rural reality presented in the video ...

Adela's daughter, today and tomorrow ...

Adela's other children ...

Marķa's perspective ...

The Marķas and Adelas of our communities ...

Comparing the Video with Participants' Communities

The coordinator can divide the group into five teams. Then a character is assigned to each team:

Team 1 -- Adela

Team 2 -- Marķa

Team 3 -- Oscar

Team 4 -- the eldest daughter

Team 5 -- the other children

In each group, the character's main characteristics can be debated and analyzed. Then a discussion can be opened to consider the similarities and differences between the characters in the video and the realities of the participants' communities.

B. Analysis and Comprehension

Possible activities:

"Discrimination against women" includes any distinction,

exclusion, or restriction based on sex...."

Have the group identify discriminatory attitudes toward women that are observed in the video. Compare them with those present in the participants' communities.

Read Article 1 of the Women's Convention and comment on its content.

Re-write the article, using everyday language.

Rural Women and Access to Resources

The UN Declaration on the Right to Development (1986) states that "the human person is the central subject of development and should be the active participant and beneficiary of the right to development.... States have the duty to take steps, individually and collectively, to formulate international development policies with a view to facilitating the full realization of the right to development." (Articles 2 and 4.)

Read the second part of Article 14 of the Women's Convention.

Identify scenes or dialogue from the video where violations of these rights appear, and discuss factors that impede enjoyment of these rights. Compare these situations with the experiences of the participants, or with those of people close to the participants.

Discuss opportunities of women and men living in rural areas, regarding access to resources.

Write down the group's conclusions about the relationships between access to resources and the ability to enjoy human rights.

Work (Invisible, domestic, informal, and/or rural)

In our societies, an entire category of work is often forgotten. It doesn't appear in national statistics and it is done without pay or other remuneration. This is domestic work -- tasks related to reproduction and care of the household, which are mainly done by women.

To explore the concept of "invisible work" and the sexual division of labor:

Divide the group into manageable teams.

Each team can prepare a list of all the activities that Adela does everyday, how long they take, who helps her, and the salary she should receive for the work.

Then read the first part of Article 14 of the Women's Convention.

Analyze the work that Adela does. What about her daughter's work?

Think about the scene where the government officials are taking a survey, particularly when one of them writes on the questionnaire: "Inactive -- Housewife." Why do statistics describe women as inactive?

Poverty and Gender

A lack of economic resources leads to more domestic work for women. Working days become longer as women try to find ways to make ends meet. The combination of long working hours, a lack of resources, and poverty creates a double inequality for many women based on Gender and Social Class.

The coordinator can present the following statistic:

Of the 1.3 billion poor people in the world, approximately 70% are women.

The following questions can be debated by the group:

What are possible reasons for such discrepancies between women and men? How does poverty affect women and men differently?

Are there differences between rural and urban poverty? What are they?

Read Article 14, paragraphs a, c, e, and g, and Article 13 of the Women's Convention. Does double discrimination exist in the case of a poor rural woman? In what ways are poor rural women doubly discriminated against?

Health and Violence

Women and children suffer more than men from many types of violence. Violence is a product of historically unequal power relationships between men and women, which have led to domination and subordination. Abusive behavior on the part of some men and submission on the part of some women reinforce the cycle of violence. There are serious consequences at both the personal and social levels. Violence against women has been recognized to be an obstacle to development.

The coordinator can divide the group into teams, and have the teams:

Identify scenes and images from the video that show violence against Adela. (Include all types of violence: physical, psychological, emotional, social, economic, etc.)

Each team can draw a picture of Adela's body, using posters and markers.

Then each participant can mark on the drawing the different parts of Adela's body that suffer violence. Also determine what or who causes the violence.

Each team can present its poster and discuss the subject with the entire group.

Finally, the coordinator can open a discussion about causes and consequences of these acts of violence that Adela and some women in the participants' communities may endure daily.

Education

Access to education is fundamental to achieving equality of opportunities. However, equality will not be achieved only with a simple incorporation of women into schools, colleges, or universities. It is also necessary to adapt educational programs, texts and rules so that all women and men may develop to their fullest potential. This will help to correct some of the stereotypes that are reinforced by traditional methods of education, stereotypes which limit the opportunities open to many girls and women.

The coordinator can divide the group into teams.

Each team can act out common situations that Adela might experience being illiterate, poor, and a woman. Possible examples:

  • Adela requesting a loan.
  • Adela going to a hospital.
  • Adela denouncing a violation of her rights.

Then each group can recreate the same scenario, using an Adela able to read and write.

After the scenarios are presented, the coordinator can open a discussion of the obstacles, limitations and strengths of both Adelas (illiterate and educated).

NOTE: If there are illiterate people among the participants it might be interesting to consider their experiences and solicit their contributions to the discussion.

Maternity and Paternity

Women's biological functions of reproduction and breastfeeding have been used as a logical and natural explanation for assigning to mothers other tasks like infant and childcare and housework. This somewhat logical delegation of duties, however, is historically based and varies according to culture, class, religion, etc.

Participants can be divided into groups of 4 or 5 people.

Each group can define how Adela and Marķa would describe the role of a mother. How are they similar? How do they differ?

In small groups debate the role of a mother and her responsibilties that is generally accepted in the participants' communities. Identify advantages and disadvantages to this conceptualization of maternal roles, and discuss contradictions between the concepts of motherhood and daily experiences.

Debate the father's role and how the concepts of maternity and paternity differ.

Identify women among or known to the participants who are not mothers. Analyze their personal situations and the attitudes of different sectors of society toward these women.

Discuss these two questions:

  • Are there models of Adela who live in urban areas?
  • Are there models of Marķa who live in rural areas?

Upbringing

The family is the first environment where children learn about their "roles" and form attitudes about what they can and cannot be when they grow up. Revising some of the messages that we transmit as parents is an important step toward reversing some of the stereotypes and inequalities based on gender.

The coordinator can ask participants to think about the image of childhood that is introduced in the video. How are the roles of the boys and the elder girl in the story different?

The group can be divided into two teams. Poster board, markers, construction paper, magazines, newspapers and glue or tape can be divided between the teams to create a collage.

Each group can prepare a collage based on the ideas and images in the video about how children live their childhoods. Have the teams divide the collage into two parts, one for the girl and one for the boys. In the collages participants should include images from the video, the words of the song heard during breakfast, etc.

Each team can present is collage, giving it a significant title.

A discussion about discrimination between boys and girls should be introduced at this point. To open the debate, the coordinator may introduce the following question:

How does Adela act with respect to the list of tasks she demands of her daughter? How does Oscar act?

C. Strategies for Change

Possible activities:

Beginning at the Grassroots

If one of the intentions of the training is to formulate proposals to change situations of inequality, it will be very useful to begin by approaching problems close at hand, those that the participants experience everyday.

The coordinator can give paper and a pencil to each participant.

Each participant can describe some situations of discrimination that she or he suffers. Then the participant can prioritize these problems and select two of the most important.

Finally, the participant can list realistic solutions to the problems. These ideas can be discussed and evaluated by the group, with particular attention to the feasibility of the proposed solutions.

Resource Maps of Our Communities

It is critical that participants know about and use resources available in their communities. Developing ideas, identifying obstacles and analyzing areas that should be strengthened are the first steps toward eliminating discrimination against women.

Divide the group into teams of 5 to 10 people, giving poster board to each team.

Each team can draw a map of its community (city, neighborhood, village), including on the map all the institutions, services, resources, community centers, etc., that people can use to work against women's discrimination.

Each team can analyze its map, looking for strong and weak areas.

Each map can be presented to the entire group, and information will be exchanged, focusing on the strengths and weaknesses of each community.

Our Government's Responsibility

Having discussed the responsibility of our governments and their commitments to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women, the group can use articles of the Women's Convention and other documents, along with the community maps, to write a letter to their government officials. In the letter the group can ask questions, and make proposals and demands for the modification of laws and changes in spending priorities. The group can set out its views about what is necessary and urgent to improve the lives of women, and why.

Read Articles 2 and 3 of the Women's Convention, focusing on our government's responsibility to work toward eliminating discrimination against women.

In teams or with the whole group, discuss the government's actions regarding women's discrimination. Summarize the discussion in a letter to the government, and include propositions for improvement.

Discuss how to ensure that the letter arrives at its destination. Set dates to carry out specific steps.

Strengthen the letter by gaining the commitment and signatures of members of the community.

D. Evaluation

Living Sculpture

It would be interesting for the group to build a representation of women's discrimination, reflecting what they experienced in the workshop.

Divide the group into teams.

Each team can prepare a "living sculpture," using their bodies collectively and symbolically, to represent rural women's discrimination.

Each team can create a title for its sculpture and present and explain it in from of the group. The group can then discuss the sculptures and evaluate the workshop.

 

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Between Their Stories and Our Realities