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Promoting gender equality through community media among refugees in Ethiopia

Participatory video training, Ethiopia, July 2015. © UNESCO/E. Joubeaud

Ethiopia is one of the countries in Africa with the highest number of refugees. More than 630,000 refugees from Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan are accommodated in 23 refugee camps spread across the country. The Government maintains an open-door-policy and continues to allow humanitarian access and protection to those seeking refuge on its territory. The majority seeking refuge are women and children. Due to this demographic, within the refugee camps, gender based violence and women’s inequality remain preoccupations. 



In response to the refugee crisis and in order to promote gender equality through community media, UNESCO organized, in cooperation with the International Rescue Committee and InsightShare, a participatory video training in Mai-Aini Refugee Camp and in Shire, Ethiopia, in July 2015. The objective of the workshop was to train representative facilitators from 12 refugee camps in participatory video in order to further community engagement practices regarding issues of gender based violence prevention and response and the empowerment of women and girls in the various refugee communities.

Video education in Ethiopia has been identified as one of the most effective ways to communicate in various community gatherings and ceremonies, and represents an important opportunity to address groups at a time in refugee camps. Due to low literacy levels in some refugee camps, the fact that many languages remain unwritten, strong oral traditions, and the ability to engage community and religious leaders, participatory video is an essential tool for awareness raising on issues related to gender equality in Ethiopia.

Participatory video training, Ethiopia, July 2015. © UNESCO/E. Joubeaud

Participatory video is a set of techniques to involve a group or community in shaping and creating their own film. The idea behind this is that making a video is easy and accessible, and is an effective way of bringing people together to explore issues and voice concerns. The process is empowering, enabling a group or community to see improvements and also to communicate their needs and ideas to decision- makers, other groups, and communities. As such, participatory video is a highly effective tool to engage and mobilize people - helping them implement their own forms of sustainable development based on local needs.

During the ten day training in participatory video in Shire and Mai-Aini refugee camp, three films were conceived, filmed, and edited by participants discussing through drama domestic violence, emotional violence, and existing toolkits for gender based violence prevention and response, including access to counseling and information in the refugee camps. Trainees from the 12 principle refugee camps in Ethiopia were trained in the processes of developing, filming, and editing participatory video and how to facilitate community discussions on ways of using community media to further raise awareness on issues of gender equality.

Participatory video training, Ethiopia, July 2015. © UNESCO/E. Joubeaud

Following the completion of the ten-day training, the trainees planned and facilitated a community screening back in Mai-Aini refugee camp that included group discussion after watching the videos. For this community event, the participants who created the videos had a leading role inviting others to the event across the camp and presenting their films. The final public screening at Mai-Aini refugee camp further allowed for the integration and understanding of community media as a powerful tool in promoting gender equality and awareness regarding gender based violence. After watching the three videos, the trainees divided the audience in four groups where they discussed the key messages and issues addressed by the films in relation to gender-based violence. All the trainees reported positive feedback given by participants who recommended the use of the videos with wider audiences in the camp.

“I would like to say thank you for your message, constructive feedback, commitment, support and for giving us a very crucial and quality training, echoed Rozina, another trainee. With plans to scale up the successful pilot training undertaken in Mai-Aini in July 2015 to 11 other refugee camps in the coming year with upwards of 230,000 indirect beneficiaries, community media and participatory video have become essential tools among the refugee population in Ethiopia to promote gender equality and a culture of peace.

Participatory video training, Ethiopia, July 2015. © UNESCO/E. Joubeaud

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