International Women’s Day takes place on the 8th March this year, with the theme ‘Make it Happen’. While this important day is being commemorated with events, campaigning, and awareness raising across the world, the team at PhotoVoice have been hard at work delivering a new partnership in Indonesia which looks directly at issues affecting female migrant workers.
The project – part of ongoing activities funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) Programme – is called ‘Maju Perempuan Indonesia untuk Penanggulangan Kemiskinan’, or ‘Empowering Indonesian Women for Poverty Reduction’. PhotoVoice are contributing to this programme in West Nusa Tenggara (Central Lombok District) and East Nusa Tenggara (Lembata District), two Indonesian islands with different characteristics.
We are working with staff from two grassroots organisations that work with women affected by migrant work – a major challenge in Indonesia. Over the last few days, staff from PhotoVoice, including Jilna, PhotoVoice’s new projects manager, acclaimed photographer Jenny Matthews, and former PhotoVoice intern Altaire Cambata, have been providing training to some amazing people who work in these organisations.
The local staff team have been learning about both the power and potential of a PhotoVoice project, gaining insight into how it can make the change from providing tools that help people articulate their experiences, to developing new approaches to community advocacy, and finally to ongoing partnership between decision makers and the communities that are affected by them.
The training has involved many different aspects, both practical and theoretical, and included a shoot in the local area to take pictures that illustrate the change the community organisations would like to see in the areas the project will be visiting.
Jilna commented that: “I was really moved by the powerful messages and stories that were produced. One participant was particularly striking in her description of the condition of women in her local area by sharing a saying about women that is well-known locally; ‘women should only jump in three places; the bed, the well and the kitchen’.”
The women involved with delivering this project are incredibly accomplished, powerful and strong. They have embraced this new approach to community engagement, teaching the PhotoVoice as much as they have learnt. With International Women’s Day just around the corner, the aims of the programme feel particularly poignant, particularly as the ‘make it happen’ theme is so relevant to the aims and intentions of the project.