Experiments in Digital Technology

Submitted by Monica Grover

Gurgaon, India – Have you thought about the importance of empowering girls in media? Traditionally, historically, and culturally, girls and women in many parts of the world have been deprived of opportunities for learning and advancement, especially in the realm of technology. For many of us, this is no surprise. As manager of digital media projects for GFC, I’ve personally benefited from involvement in new media and technology. While at GFC, I’ve been able to learn new video-editing software to create videos to share GFC’s story; I’ve been able to learn new open-source web development software to manage GFC’s website as a communications tool for the organization; and I’ve had the chance to be involved in the Nike Brain Trust video storytelling project to help develop a toolkit on how community-based organizations (CBOs) and the adolescent girls they serve can use digital technology to share their stories.

I strongly believe in the importance of empowering girls in media, and all of the partners present at the GFC/Nike Brain Trust Toolkit Development Workshop last week share this belief. This common thread is what brought partners from India and Africa together to discuss the development of a video storytelling manual to teach CBOs and the girls they work with how to use visual media to amplify their voices.

With the advent of new digital technologies and the permeation of social media in our communities, how do we begin to use media in the 21st century? How do our programs stay relevant in this new age of technology? How can girls be involved in media and lead media efforts? These are some of the questions that arose last week during the toolkit development workshop.

Over the last year, as part of the Nike Brain Trust Initiative, GFC conducted an experimental project in which four GFC/GGI grantee partners serving adolescent girls—Mahita and Kolkata Sanved in India, and Kudirat Initiative for Democracy and Girl Child Concerns in Nigeria—participated in technical training conducted by two regional implementing partners, Video Volunteers (India) and Communicating for Change (Nigeria). The implementing partners trained girls served by the four grantee partners in video production, teaching them to capture their stories and share their stories with a wider audience. The final stage of this project is the development of a manual or toolkit that can help other CBOs and girls to develop their own video storytelling projects.

We are now in the process of gathering feedback on the project. Last week, we had the opportunity to present an overview of the video storytelling project and toolkit to the larger collaborative of GGI partners gathered at the GFC Grassroots Girls Initiative Knowledge Exchange. The partners involved in the video storytelling pilot project discussed with the larger group how a video storytelling toolkit could be most useful to them and other CBOs, and the group of GGI partners provided valuable advice on the toolkit.

The GFC/Nike Brain Trust partners came together last week and worked intensely over two days to discuss lessons learned during the video storytelling project and to develop a toolkit based on their experiences with the training workshops developed for the girls served by their organizations. The advice and feedback about the program and the resulting toolkit allowed for collaboration with a larger group of partners invested in the development and advancement of girls in their communities. As we approach the final stages of toolkit creation and discuss dissemination strategies, our hope is to reach other CBOs that may benefit from this yearlong experience and find the toolkit useful and relevant in their work.

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