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India: Young Women Learning About Participatory Video

A group of young women in the slums of Hyderabad in India are learning how to make videos to change their communities, and in this next film the group of young girls explain what they've learned and how they are helping their communities and themselves through their work.

Namita Singh, who is doing her PhD research on participatory video had a double function in this process. An experienced trainer in video production for grassroots communities as well as a writer of toolkits and guides for media training directed to girls and children, she was also studying these girls learning process.

While producing the video documenting the girls progress, they asked her to please train them further while they made the film. She comments on this experience in her blog post ‘Namita Singh, the Trainer Vs. Namita Singh, the Researcher : Things I taught and things I learnt!‘:

Young girls from the Hderabad Slums in India learn filmmaking

Young girls from the Hderabad Slums in India learn filmmaking

Tricky! How could I say no? They are giving me their time for my research. They are participating in it. They just want to learn a bit more, while being a part of it. On the other hand, it is a research, I did not want to compromise on my data-collection, while trying to train them and mixing up two very different things.Would research be research, if things did not complicate themselves?
So I put my dilemma aside, and thought, ‘Well, I could probably design the video-making in a workshop-format. I have done this as a trainer, as it is an extremely participatory process. I can do the same, as a researcher too.
It was not as easy as it seemed. There are things I did as a trainer, which I could not as a researcher, and vice-versa…..

Following is the video, subtitled in English:

Ms. Singh mentions in her article one example of how the young girls understand the power of the videos they are making and take into account many aspects in their production. It had to do with deciding on the language for the video. When it was suggested that they could make the video in English, as a way to reach funders and other NGOs, they countered:

But the girls pointed out, ‘Our communities don’t know English. They’ll not understand what we are saying. Even if we put subtitles, they don’t know how to read. Those who know English can read. So let only the subtitles be in English’. The girls were sensitive about their community, and vocal about it too. As a trainer, the focus was always to respond to such needs of the community. In fact, use of local words, encouraging local songs, etc. was an integral part of the process. After all, for them, it was for the local community that was to engage with the video more.

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