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Women Aloud! - The WAVE Project
Sapna Shahani and Angana Jhaveri are have won a $107,000 grant from the U.S.-based MacArthur Foundation to train one woman from every state in India to create videos about development issues such as education, livelihood, the environment and social justice. A Siliconeer report.
(Above): Village women at a crossroads near Mysore and Somnathpur in Karnataka. Mumbai-based activists Sapna Shahani and Angana Jhaveri have won a $107,000 award from the U.S.-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for a project that will train one woman from every state in India to become community journalists. [Photo: ADAM JONES | ADAMJONES.FREESERVERS.COM]
Sapna Shahani and Angana Jhaveri are the first India winners of the noted U.S. based MacArthur Foundation and the University of California/Duke University’s initiative HASTAC’s Digital Media and Learning competition.
Their proposed project, Women Aloud: Videoblogging for Empowerment (WAVE) was awarded $107,000 to train one woman from every state in India to become community journalists, creating videos about development issues such as education, livelihood, the environment and social justice. These videos will then be viewed online on a first-of-its-kind national women’s video blog at www.WomenAloud.org launching in January.
The WAVE project was among 19 projects selected from a pool of 700 applicants from the U.S. and four other countries. This is the first time that proposals were invited from India for grants towards innovation in participatory learning using new digital media technologies.
The DML competition is an annual effort designed to find and to inspire the most novel uses of new media in support of learning. The competition awarded $2 million to individuals, for-profit companies, universities, and community organizations for projects that employ games, mobile phone applications, virtual worlds, social networks, wikis, and video blogs to explore how digital technologies are changing the way that people learn and participate in daily life.
(Above): Sapna Shahani teaching a young girl and boy how to use a flipcam to shoot video at an orphanage in Panjim, Goa. Shahani and Angana Jhaveri’s award-winning project will train one woman from every state in India to become community journalists.
Shahani, 31, is a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota. She moved back to Mumbai to start a community media based project, ‘’After having worked as a manager of a community media center in Berkeley, California for six years, I moved back home to pursue the burgeoning field in India… I am thrilled that the award gives us a platform to demonstrate the vast potential of using media as a tool for development in India,’’ says Shahani, who along with Angana Jhaveri co-wrote the winning proposal.
At the genesis of this project was their passion to use the media to create awareness about women’s rights — in this case creating a women’s network of videobloggers articulating stories about the needs, successes, and changes occurring in their communities. “I am really looking forward to interacting one on one with the women, hearing their stories and helping them create videos that we will upload on the Internet. Nothing is more exciting for me than sharing the joy of creating, says Jhaveri, whose company Illumine Films has been making films about culture and social concern organizations for many years.”
The award funds, managed by Mumbai-based NGO partner Point of View, will be spent over the coming year on video equipment, monthly stipends for the participants, the training program and other necessities. However, the WAVE team hopes to make the project self-sustaining in the coming years by providing employment opportunities to the growing network from international campaigns needing video stories from a women’s journalist network.
(Above): Angana Jhaveri with some children while shooting one of her documentaries on classical dance and culture in Manipur. Jhaveri’s and Sapna Shahani’s award-winning project will train one woman from every state in India to become community journalists.
The WAVE project sought applications from women aged 18-25 around India interested in learning to use media tools to help their communities. College students or graduates associated with a local NGO or media college, and proficient in computers were considered ideal candidates. The videos will be watched internationally by development-oriented NGOs, academics, social investors and others, leading to an increase in resources contributed to assist marginalized communities.
Applications were due by Oct. 21. There will be a two-week centralized training workshop in Goa in November after applicants are selected and the nine-month video mentorship program will follow.
“At the moment, we’re neck deep in emails and happy to be working around the clock to try our best to receive applications from every state in the country, which is a huge challenge! I think that’s because we’re a new program and initially hoped to reach people through email which is a faster and cheaper communication method than calling long distance around India,” Shahani wrote in her blog Oct. 13. “But we soon discovered that non governmental organizations (NGOs) in many parts of India don’t have working emails, or don’t check email regularly, or are simply busy or out of town. So now both Angana and I call 15-20 organizations every day and send about 200 emails between us.”
(Above): Sapna Shahani (c) standing next to activist and host of the alternative U.S. broadcast host Amy Goodman, facilitating a book signing, when Goodman came for a benefit speech for Berkeley Community Media. Shahani and Angana Jhaveri’s award-winning project will train one woman from every state in India to become community journalists.
Shahani wrote that they had received 40 applications from 17 (out of 28) states in the country. “We’re still waiting on applications from most of the north eastern states (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Sikkim and Tripura), which are fairly remote; northern states like Uttarakhand, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh; and one southern state - Tamil Nadu,” she wrote.
The duo received email from abroad as well. “One was from a community media organization in Nepal (Forum for Information Technology), asking if they could send someone to our training in Goa, and the other was from a women’s group in Kenya called Jumuiya, asking if we could do a similar program with rural women in the north rift valley there!” Shahani wrote. “FYI, we replied to Nepal saying they could attend the training if they paid for travel as we haven’t budgeted for that, and to Kenya saying we would keep in touch and try to work something out in the future.”
Interested readers can find out more about the project by visiting Sapna Shahani’s blog at www.womenaloud.blogspot.com.
More information on Angana Jhaveri is available at her Web site at: www.illuminefilms.com