A Day in Her Life will be a multimedia project by non-profit organization Voices of Women Media. The project seeks to empower women working in Amsterdam’s Red Light District by training them to use media tools to tell their stories. We want to provide an opportunity for participants to have a voice and express themselves in a creative way. Participants will create a multimedia body of work that they themselves will disseminate in their communities to raise awareness, thereby developing advocacy skills and challenging mainstream stereotypes and stigmas surrounding the sex industry.
What locality or neighborhood will your project focus on?
Describe the specific population with whom you will be working.
Participants will be cisgendered and trans women working in Amsterdam’s Red Light District. VOW Media has conducted two previous projects with sex workers, both directly empowering participants; for example one former participant chose to follow a career in media and, among other projects, gives photography classes to other migrant women. After the concrete success of previous projects, and due to popular demand from past participants, we would like to offer a new project. The courses are for absolute beginners, so no previous knowledge of photography or video making is necessary. We use computers for the video editing part, but we teach our participants how to use the software. We do not use Internet during the sessions.
Who else will be on your team to help implement the project?
We will have two members of staff working full-time on the project, along with volunteers who will help facilitate the workshops. We will be conducting the project in partnership with Prostitutie en Gezondheidscentrum 292 (P&G292), an organization that provides free health service to sex workers, as well as skills development classes. They will be assisting us with outreach and providing the facilities for the workshops.
What kinds of news, stories and other content will be created?
We see this project as producing content that helps contribute to a more humanized and multi-faceted picture of workers in the Red Light District.
We want to show the sex industry as a complex fabric with varied and different voices. Many people looking in from the outside have quite a polarized view; women are either victims, or they are making choices. But as in any other area of life, there are often grey zones. ADIHL tells the stories of these women in their own voices and images. By the end of the project, each participant will have created a body of photography and in groups made a radio show and short films about their lives. Additionally, they would be encouraged to talk about the project and their work through blogs and social media as well as holding public screenings.
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.
We have an established connection with our partner organization P&G292, having conducted two previous projects with them. P&G292 has extensive experience with the community we will be working with, and is extremely valuable for outreach as they already have an established relationship with potential participants through their own programmes and services. This will ensure the success of the project as with their help we should be able to gather enough interested participants and build trust with them through P&G292.
How many participants do you think will be trained in your project?
There will be 10-15 direct participants. We will outreach to potential participants by holding taster activities and delivering talks about VOW Media at partner organization P&G292’s facilities. We will sustain their participation by keeping them involved in every step of the workshop process, such as drawing up an agreement for how to work together respectfully, adjusting the curriculum according to their needs and creating a dissemination plan for the work that participants create. Through screenings, discussions and exhibitions following the workshop, which we will encourage the participants to initiate by themselves, we hope to outreach to more women working in the Red Light District, and have participants train other women in the skills they have learned during the workshop.
Describe which technologies, tools, and media you will focus on when training participants.
Participants will be trained in three main areas; photography, radio and film. Photography training will be given for both disposable and digital cameras, and focus on aspects such as framing and portraiture, shutter speed, aperture, lighting, white balance and how to select the best image. Radio training will include voice training, interview techniques, narration and storytelling techniques, as well as technical skills training in mixing boards and radio program software. Film training will be composed of digital video camera basics, including angles and framing, story-boarding techniques and video editing technology. As the sex industry tends to be sensationalized in mainstream media, we feel it is particularly important that participants appropriate media tools to challenge this.
Describe the facilities where you will hold the workshops.
Workshops will be held in partner organization P&G292’s venue, in their conference room. We will have access to a whiteboard, beamer and screen. We will use VOW Media's eight photo cameras, two video cameras and one laptop. We do not use Internet during the actual sessions, but wifi is available at the venue.
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?
Having conducted two successful projects within this community, we are experienced in working with women who work in Amsterdam’s Red Light District. We have the knowledge, skills and experience to effectively train participants to use media to express themselves and tell their stories, and keep them involved in every step of the process. We would encourage participants to use the acquired skills to initiate similar multimedia projects in their own communities, to keep documenting their lives, revealing their struggles and telling their stories. Even after the workshop is over, we will stay in touch with participants, offering advice and support when needed and maintaining the newly created networks and communities of migrants, women, and sex workers.
What specific challenges do you expect to face when planning and implementing your project?
We expect that participants may not trust us in the beginning, which could create a closed atmosphere during the project. We will overcome this by building a relationship with participants through taster sessions before the workshop begins. During the workshop, we will strive to create a safe space by establishing rules for working together respectfully. We will also be clear that everyone should be able to say as much or as little as they like, and that participants set the agenda for what will be discussed. We also expect that there may be disagreements among participants about views on sex work , as some may be positive and others more negative. We hope to create an ethos that ‘everyone has a story to tell’, and that others should respect this story, even if they have not experienced it
How will you measure and evaluate the project’s impact, specifically: your primary participants, the wider regional community, or the global digital community?
Our primary measure of the project’s success is the progress and personal development of our participants. We will apply the SWOT technique to properly evaluate our working methods via interviews with the facilitators and participants after each workshop. These interviews will be private – recorded on our own media tools and archived and included as part of the process during the workshop. We will encourage the participants to keep blogs or posts on social media websites to keep track of their progress or to share their work to their own networks. The success of the project will also depend on the dissemination of its results; we would want to share participants’ work with as many people as possible in order to raise awareness and promote dialogue about sex workers’ rights and lives.
If your project were to be selected as a Rising Voices grantee, what would be the general timeline of project activities in 2014?
From now until May 2014 we will be in the pre-production stage. We have already worked on research and project development and we are now applying for funding, organizing fundraisers, doing pilot projects and publicity. Because we have already worked with P&G292 during two other projects in 2010 and 2012, we have already established a solid partnership, which we are now further strengthening. Currently we are working together on the outreach for participants and arranging the logistics.
May – August, 2014: 3 month long multimedia workshop, focused on developing technical skills and artistic process, while exploring sex workers’ lives.
The rest of the year 2014 and the year 2015: Dissemination of results, through the form of exhibitions, screenings, discussions and even new workshops organized by the participants.
Detail a specific budget of up to $2,500 USD for operating costs.
Activity costs (including workshop costs, locations, DVDs, photo printouts and booklets, exhibitions and screenings) – $1000
Operational costs (software, equipment including cameras) – $500
Human resources costs- $750
Travel costs – $250
Besides the microgrant funding, what other support can Rising Voices provide for your project to ensure its success?
Rising Voices could support the project through generating publicity for the results of the project. We would like our participants’ work to reach as wide an audience as possible in order to raise awareness and increase understanding of their lives, and in doing so challenge negative stereotypes and stigmas surrounding them. Rising Voices could support this by hosting public screenings, exhibitions and discussions of the participants’ work, and publicising the project on their website and social media platforms. They could also put us in contact with other like-minded projects and organisations to increase our network and form new partnerships.
Voices of Women Media