The Empowering Cloghers Project will strengthen the online presence and influence of female university students from rural Cambodia by enabling them to become Cambodian bloghers (female bloggers) – known as “cloghers” – and to become active online. This 6 month Project will train participants in setting up and designing successful blogs, writing compelling posts and promoting blogs through social media. The Project will also run a writing competition for the most effective post and set-up a “Clogher Corner” to enable networking and skills-sharing with the existing clogher community.
What locality or neighborhood will your project focus on?
Describe the specific population with whom you will be working.
This Project targets female university students from rural Cambodia who study in Phnom Penh, and are interested in advocating for social change. CCHR’s 2012 research report New Media and the Promotion of Human Rights in Cambodia highlighted deficits in connectivity, I.T. literacy and training in rural Cambodia and recommended that donors and NGOs “Create more opportunities for Cambodians, especially those from rural and disadvantaged backgrounds to learn computer skills and access the internet.” Female university students from rural areas have tremendous potential to add significantly to the online political discourse – which is dominated by people who have grown up in Phnom Penh – and to share their varied experiences, and benefit from the empowerment of gaining an online voice.
Who else will be on your team to help implement the project?
The project will be implemented by CCHR’s Sithi Project team, which manages CCHR’s online web-portal at www.sithi.org and CCHR’s Sithi Hub, a training and meeting space in Phnom Penh aimed at increasing the use of ICT tools for human rights and social change. The Project is coordinated by Ms. Ramana Sorn (@ramanasorn), and will receive support from CCHR’s Executive Director Ms. Chak Sopheap (@sopheapfocus; http://sopheapfocus.com/) and CCHR’s International Consultant Ms. Juliette Rousselot (@jrousselot; http://themoretheychange.wordpress.com/), in addition to CCHR’s IT and web development staff.
What kinds of news, stories and other content will be created?
Participants will write blog posts reflecting their experiences as young women from rural Cambodia studying in universities in Phnom Penh, including their hopes and the challenges they have encountered and continue to face in achieving these. As participants will be selected based on their level of interest in advocating for human rights and/or social change, the posts will reflect their perspectives on these themes and associated political concerns, and their ideas for improvements. Blogs by their natures reach out to their readers and invite comments and discussion amongst readers. Therefore there is also scope for these new “Cloghers” to generate forums for knowledge sharing and engage new audiences in the online dialogue around human rights in Cambodia through their blogs.
What technologies and digital tools do you plan to use in the trainings?
Describe the connections that you or your organization have already established or plan to establish that will contribute to the success of the project.
CCHR has wide-reaching connections with university and organizations through its work on a variety of issues related to human rights in Cambodia. Through CCHR’s Project to Promote Women in Politics in Cambodia, CCHR has already conducted outreach and awareness-raising activities with universities, with youth groups, and with organizations that provide support to young female students from rural areas studying in Phnom Penh. For instance, CCHR has connections with the Harpswell Foundation (http://harpswellfoundation.org/), which provides housing in Phnom Penh for such women, and has included many young women from that organization in project activities. CCHR will seek to establish working relationships with other similar organizations and universities.
How many participants do you think will be trained in your project?
CCHR will recruit 15-20 participants to receive training and support through this project. CCHR will proactively identify and select participants – via advertising and CCHR’s partnerships with universities and organization – based on their level of motivation to participate in the Project and to produce the citizen media envisioned. While it is likely that some will be more active and produce more outputs than others, CCHR hopes that by proactively identifying target participants, we will ensure that they are sufficiently motivated to remain interested throughout the course of the Project. Moreover, CCHR will seek to select participants that are interested in remaining involved with CCHR’s activities – generally speaking and through the Sithi Hub – beyond this particular Project.
Describe which technologies, tools, and media you will focus on when training participants.
The Project will focus on blogging as an outlet for citizen media, and thus the training element of the Project will focus on blogging platforms WordPress, Tumblr, and BlogSpot, with a focus on WordPress, as it is currently the platform most used by Cambodian bloggers. The Project will also include training on social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter to teach participants how to disseminate their posts to a wider audience. Lastly, the Project will include a training session providing an introduction to online security, during which participants will be introduced to basic security tools: secure email and messaging; anti-virus software; and secure passwords. CCHR has extensive experience providing trainings to various communities, including on blogging and social media.
Describe the facilities where you will hold the workshops.
The Sithi Hub – an existing CCHR-run project – is located in central Phnom Penh and currently serves as a comfortable and welcoming training and meeting space for youth, students in the fields of information technology and human rights activists and NGO workers where members can receive ICT and human rights trainings, network and in the long-term, develop joint innovative projects to benefit human rights. The space is equipped with high-speed Wi-Fi internet, a projector and large screen, and other necessary equipment; participants will have their personal computer. The Sithi Hub is open 7 days a week, and Project Participants will be welcome to use the space to further their skills and receive technical and human rights support from CCHR staff.
What is your current relationship with the community with whom you plan to work? What makes you the most appropriate individual or organization to implement this project?
CCHR has already worked with several youth groups and organizations that support young female students, some of whom have already participated in CCHR activities and with whom CCHR will collaborate to recruit Project participants. CCHR also has strong links to the Clogher community – with the Executive Director of the organization one of the most prominent Cloghers – and to youth groups advocating for social change; for instance, CCHR’s Sithi Hub currently hosts the Politokoffee, a group of youth who meet weekly to discuss politics and social change. Although not the primary Project participants, both existing Cloghers and members of the Politokoffee will be included in the Project and invited to share their experiences and network with Project participants.
What specific challenges do you expect to face when planning and implementing your project?
CCHR does not foresee any major challenges to the implementation of the Project. That being said, as with any community currently underrepresented online, it will take some time for the Project participants to become fully comfortable with the tools on which they will be trained and to be fully empowered to take their place in the Clogher community. As such, CCHR hopes to keep the Project participants engaged with Sithi Hub activity in order to continue supporting them past this Project. With regards to any security challenges, the incorporation of a training focusing on online security will address any immediate concerns and will reduce the level of risk faced by Project participants.
How will you measure and evaluate the project’s impact, specifically: your primary participants, the wider regional community, or the global digital community?
The success of the Project will be evaluated based on feedback from the primary participants, through formal and informal evaluations, and on how much citizen media is created by trainees through regular monitoring of their activities. Success – with regards to the primary participants – will be defined as the creation of citizen media by the Project’s participants and their incorporation into the Clogher community. Success – more broadly speaking – will be evaluated based on the increase of information by the participants and being shared on a broader scale. CCHR will work with Project participants to monitor traffic to the blogs using WordPress statistics and will monitor the number of blog posts produced and the number of comments and social media shares resulting from those posts.
If your project were to be selected as a Rising Voices grantee, what would be the general timeline of project activities in 2014?
CCHR would start implementing the Project within a month of receiving the funds and would complete the Project within 6 months.
Month 1: Identify participants for Project through contacting relevant organizations and university and selecting participants based on meetings/informal “interviews” with target participants; finalize training outlines and materials required for trainings.
Month 2: Hold 2 initial trainings: “setting up/designing successful blogs” and “story-telling: writing compelling posts.”
Month 3: Hold 2 trainings: “Disseminating your blog posts and growing your audience” (with a focus on social medial tools) and “Introduction to online advocacy and campaigning tools and tactics.”
Month 4: Hold 1 training: “Introduction to online security and freedom of expression online;” advertise blog entry competition.
Month 5: Provide support and feedback to Project participants on their blogs, draft entries, etc.
Month 6: Announce competition winner; hold inaugural “Clogh
Detail a specific budget of up to $2,500 USD for operating costs.
Training costs: 5 trainings (1/2 day each; 20 participants/training) – $1,290 (includes materials for training: $100; refreshments for participants during trainings: $400; communication costs: $100; trainer/coordinator compensation: $540; website hosting: $150)
Competition award reception/Clogher Corner costs (refreshments and awards): $300
Transportation costs: $360
CCHR administrative support: $350
Besides the microgrant funding, what other support can Rising Voices provide for your project to ensure its success?
CCHR would benefit from learning from other organizations that have engaged similar communities in using blogging and other forms citizen media to document their experiences and to create their own content, especially in countries where internet penetration remains low. While CCHR is familiar with the local context, it is always helpful to learn from others.
Cambodian Center for Human Rights