This pilot digital literacy project uses feminist methodologies to train 20 women to create podcasts to tell their stories of struggle and empowerment, and share them with other women through social networks and online radio, providing them with tools to confront the multiple violences they have faced. The participants are domestic workers, sexual workers, street vendors, some are also formerly incarcerated. They have recently learned to read and write in La Escuela Mujeres de Frente. This project allows these recent graduates to stay connected to the project and learn new skills.
What locality or neighborhood will your project focus on?
Quito, Barrio San Marcos (Centro Histórico)
Describe the specific population with whom you will be working.
El Churo’s role is to facilitate a replicable digital literacy process based on feminist methodologies. The participants, under-represented on-line, have not had access to formal education nor opportunities to access digital tools due to their marginalized status. While diverse (Indigenous, Black, Mestizo) they have 2 things in common: they have all suffered from violence, and have recently learned to read and write. The women have asked for a program that keeps them involved, have participated in program ideas, and have revised an this proposal. They have learned to turn on a computer and compose a text but have not used the internet nor have email or social media accounts. We want to work with them as they are a group invisibilized in the media and on line.
Who else will be on your team to help implement the project?
The workshops will be created and facilitated by El Churo, a community media collective. www.churocomunicacion.blogspot.com, @elchuro Facebook: El Churo. The person responsible is Ana Acosta @yakuana. https://www.facebook.com/ana.acosta.3990418
We will partner with the staff and volunteers of La Escuela Mujeres de Frente. http://escuelamujeresdefrente.wordpress.com/ The person responsible is Andrea Aguirre https://www.facebook.com/andrea.aguirre.5454?fref=ts
What kinds of news, stories and other content will be created?
The podcasts tell the stories of working class and poor women in their own voices and words. Just as learning to read and write has been an empowering process, so will the digital literacy process. The content includes testimonies, dialogue, and dramatized scenes based on their lives as domestic workers, sex workers, formerly incarcerated women, and women who have migrated from rural areas. They also discuss involvement in a feminist-based literacy project, and the road to digital literacy. These stories will serve as inspiration to women who are new to La Escuela, and other women who have been held back from learning to read and write by fear.
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.
The partnership is between Colectivo El Churo and La Escuela Mujeres de Frente. We have worked together over the past five years in other projects. In 2008, we produced radio shows with incarcerated women, which helped lead to official pardons as they were in jail due to minor crimes. El Churo has helped La Escuela and formerly incarcerated women create communication strategies regarding family members that are deprived of their rights in prison. Now, we propose to work together on this digital literacy project.
How many participants do you think will be trained in your project?
This pilot project will work with 15 poor and working class women who have finished their studies with La Escuela, and additionally with 5 staff and volunteers. The inclusion of staff and volunteers will help facilitate the replication of what they and the women learn in these workshops, with other groups of women that subsequently graduate from the school. In total the pilot pogram trains 20 women. The participants have already learned to read and write, and have received some basic digital literacy. These same women have a desire to remain involved in the project, and have asked for further involvement. As such, we already have a group of 15-20 women who are motivated to continue. Once they are trained, they will work with La Escuela to replicate the project with other groups.
Describe which technologies, tools, and media you will focus on when training participants.
El Churo possesses the skills and expertise necessary to produce on-line radio; we have years of experience conducting workshops with diverse populations, and use popular education pedagogy. La Escuela brings a feminist pedagogy to this process, which has been highly successful with the workshop participants. We have chosen the podcast as a tool because it is accessible to audiences who can’t read and write, and is easy to record, upload and download.
Describe the facilities where you will hold the workshops.
The workshops will take place at El Churo’s space. We have a training room for up to 30 people, with chairs, a white board, and projector. We have 5 computers and will also utilize laptops of the volunteers of La Escuela. We have internet ADSL, with a download speed of 3000 kbps, and upload speed of 500 kbps. We use cell phones that record audio and 3 digital audio voice recorders. We also have a radio cabin, where we produce on-line radio.
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?
Firstly, our relationship with the women we work with is one of solidarity. The literacy process they have gone through have built trust and caring among members, and with La Escuela. El Churo is an autonomous collective that focuses on community media, new technologies and popular education, with a focus on visibilizing underrepresented groups. La Escuela has worked continually with the population of women described in this proposal. Together our organizations have long term visions, missions and histories that make this project possible (both working since 2005). We also have a history of working together with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women, and poor and working class women. We have also successfully worked together as partners in other projects.
What specific challenges do you expect to face when planning and implementing your project?
Frequently women who graduate from La Escuela feel that the process ends there. As such, the first challenge is to motivate them to continue their participation, improve their skills, and lose the fear to try new things. A structured project such as this one, which offers important skills they can use immediately, will help keep them involved. It is also a challenge to work with women who have not used the Internet at all, for this reason a feminist pedagogy is indispensable (in that it is woman-centered, affirming, goes at their own pace, and is centered on their lives) Another obstacle is that the women work long hours which can detract from their participation. For that reason, we will maintain a similar schedule that they have been accustomed to and have already made room for.
How will you measure and evaluate the project’s impact, specifically: your primary participants, the wider regional community, or the global digital community?
In the first workshop we will discuss the overall goals of the project and the women’s expectations, We will revisit our goals and expectations in the last workshop, in which participants will critically evaluate the program. This feedback will be integrated into subsequent programs and the curriculum. The program will be a success if the majority of the women attend the six, 3-hour workshops; at least 80% of the women learn to use basic functions of the internet, open email and FB accounts, and collectively produce and share their podcasts. The products, which will be evaluated collectively by the group, include: 5 podcasts in different genres: testimony, radio theater, and one online radio program.
If your project were to be selected as a Rising Voices grantee, what would be the general timeline of project activities in 2014?
1) Planning meetings and curriculum creation (1 month prior to project start)
2) Six workshops, 1x a week for 3 hours
1 – Initial meeting, discuss project objectives and participant expectations
2 – Basic Internet training
3 – Opening e-mail and FB accounts
4 – Telling our stories
5 – Learning to record our voices
6 – Sharing our stories through networks / and evaluating our experiences and creating documentations/memory of our project
3) Participation in an on-line radio show.
Detail a specific budget of up to $2,500 USD for operating costs.
2 facilitators from El Churo for six workshops $1,200
Creation of replicable curricula $ 400
Workshop materials, transportation, snacks $ 600
Printing of curriculum and documentation $ 300
Besides the microgrant funding, what other support can Rising Voices provide for your project to ensure its success?
You can share information and curricula with us related to digital literacy for women. You can also help us disseminate the project and the materials we create, like the curriculum.
Ana María Acosta