India

Blank Noise

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Communication Strategies: 

Using a wide range of communication tools, Blank Noise is interventionist and critically reflective of the issue of street sexual harassment ("eve teasing") in an effort to spur action around an offence that organisers feel has often been ignored or trivialised. The motivating claim shaping the initiative's strategies is as follows: "Eve teasing, therefore, despite its rather misleading nomenclature, is not an all-girl issue but a societal one. By being a mute witness, by teasing (sexually harassing) or by ignoring/ denying the issue, we are responsible for it."

Here is a brief summary of the phases of the project, which serve as an initial introduction to the project approach:

  1. The first phase of the Blank Noise Project dealt with victimhood. The Blank Noise founder led a series of workshops to explore the public and private identities of 9 women. This collective participatory experience evolved into an installation that included video, sound, and photographs.
  2. The next phase involved public confrontation: a participatory, public art project where the project's founder could take the issue to the streets, while including a wider base of participants.
  3. As of this writing, the project's current phase involves public interventions that are performative in nature. This stage of the project has also involved disseminating and questioning the law (particularly Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with outraging the 'modesty' of a woman). Through online opinion polls, participants are also attempting to be able to define eve teasing, which is an open-ended term.


Specifically, Blank Noise works with media that is both mainstream and alternative, depending on the nature of the project undertaken. A few examples of interventions that have been undertaken follow:

  • Street interventions:
    • Mapping - Blank Noise volunteers in Delhi map "harassment spots" on a city map. Women place a red thumb print on a city map to mark an area they have been harassed and, once volunteers have marked the map, it is offered to passersby who add to the map. Testimonials are handed out during this process and also serve as an opening for dialogue on issues that are the focus of Blank Noise.
    • Night walks - "Women can stop to eat at roadside dhabas, or just run along the streets, enjoying the public space and revelling in the feeling of being out at a time usually considered taboo." Some night walks have been more narrowly focused, with women using stencils and posters to publicise Blank Noise and talk to people about it on their way.
    • "Did you ask for it?" - Blank Noise asks participants to discard the clothes worn at the time they were sexually harassed on the streets. This collective building of an installation of clothes seeks, primarily, to erase the assumption that a person "asked for it" because of what she was wearing. By gathering clothes across different cities as testimonials of eve teasing and installing them on the streets, Blank Noise hopes that women will stop blaming themselves through a collective intervention to defy the notion of "modesty". Clothes are contributed with a note by the volunteer which explains the circumstances under which she was harassed and includes a description, usually intimate, of what the participant was feeling, serving as a possible outlet for a kind of purging of experience, as well.
    • "Why R U Looking at Me?" - Here, groups of people (sometimes joining the group spontaneously moments before it begins) wear one letter each of the phrase Y R U LOOKING AT ME on their breasts in shiny red reflective tape. The group appears and disappears at traffic lights and at major public crossings and is completely silent, maintaining eye contact with the stream of traffic lined up at the signal. "Often when challenged by a frank and fearless female gaze, onlookers tend to look away or feel embarrassed; thus the ubiquitous male gaze is countered and an interest is generated which allows for dialogue to open up." When the light turns green, volunteers disappear into the sidewalk, distributing pamphlets and answering questions. In conjunction with this, tee-shirts were created that are meant to be read off the reflection from a rear view mirror in an auto; they ask "Y RU LOOKING AT ME?" in Hindi and Kannada script so that it's what meets the viewers eyes through a mirror.
    • "One Night Stand" - Groups of women gather to stand on the street, at specific sites, significant to each city and simply stare. This is experiential for both the performers and the public on the site."
    • Opinion Polls - In an effort to elicit responses on the act of eve teasing from people on the streets where these acts take place, Blank Noise volunteers, armed with dictaphones and opinion charts, engaged people in dialogues about street harassment. Having asked questions in a non-confrontational manner, the volunteers mapped out the various responses onto chart paper. Conducted in Bangalore and Delhi, there are now attempts to make permanent some of these polls so that people will find charts at their neighbourhood paan store or bus stand.
    • Testimonials - Letters begin with the words "Dear Stranger" and go on to detail an experience of street harassment from the victim's point of view. Recipients are usually passersby - e.g., the letters are distributed at night walks or at interventions such as Y R U LOOKING AT ME. Sometimes, volunteers knock at apartment doors to deliver the testimonials to area residents who might not frequently leave their domains.
  • Online action:
    • Blank Noise This Place is an ongoing project which invites those who have experienced street sexual harassment to revisit that locale and photograph it. A participant then emails the photo, along with an account of what occurred there, to Blank Noise, which will then upload it, place a dot on a world map, and invite online discussion about the incident.
    • On International Women's Day (March 8) 2006, Blank Noise extrapolated its intervention at the time onto its blog. In 2007, a "blog-a-thon" invited women to pick up the imaginary baton from the Blank Noise blog and write a post about a personal experience of harassment on their own blog, linking back to Blank Noise. Organisers say that "[m]any women from across the world shared intimate experiences that they had buried or forgotten. The anonymity of the internet granted safety and a sense of power and women shared frankly experiences that resounded with other participants, thus creating an online community that shared universal experiences despite being separated by miles of physical space!"
    • "UNWANTED: Photographing the Perpetrator" - This project is based on the notion that "[t]he action of taking a picture of a perpetrator leching/ groping/ whistling/ catcalling is empowering in itself....[T]hrough this simple act we reverse the gaze." Women take photos of perpetrators and then post them online. "We have had experiences where people have apologized, admitted, felt shame for sexually harassing us."
    • "TALES OF LOVE AND LUST" - Recognising the need to build a dictionary of "eve teasing", Blank Noise asked participants to email in comments and remarks they had heard addressed to them on the street. This vocabulary is represented in the form of school-style charts featuring simple lettering and graphics in an attempt to desexualise and remove obscene reference from the terms that are used leerily on the streets. This was an online project, but posters have been printed and put up in offices in Bangalore.
    • "I WISH" - This campaign asked people to email us what they wished from their cities, looking beyond the reality of unsafe streets into an ideal world (People wrote in with wishes as simple as "I wish I could sit under a tree and read"). This campaign was, in part, designed to provide organisers with indications for what direction future work might take.
Development Issues: 

Women, Rights.

Source: 

Blank Noise website; and emails from Jasmeen Patheja to The Communication Initiative on June 21 2008 and November 14 2008.

A Community-Based Health Education Programme for Bio-Environmental Control of Malaria through Folk Theatre (Kalajatha) in Rural India

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Author: 
Susanta K Ghosh
Rajan R Patil
Satyanarayan Tiwari
Aditya P Dash
Publication Date
January 1, 2006
2006
Affiliation: 

National Institute of Malaria Research (ICMR), Bangalore, India (Gosh and Tiwari); Community Health Cell, Bangalore, India (Patil); National Institute of Malaria Research (ICMR), Delhi, India (Dash); Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme [WHO, UNDP], Orissa, India (Patil)

According to this research, Kalajatha, a popular, traditional art form of folk theatre depicting various life processes of a local socio-cultural setting, is an effective medium of mass communication in the Indian sub-continent, especially in rural areas. The document describes using this medium to carry out a community-based health education programme for bio-environmental malaria control.

Source: 

Malaria Journal, 5:123, 2006.

http://www.malariajournal.com/content/figures/1475-2875-5-123-1.gif

kidsRgreen

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Communication Strategies: 

kidsRgreen is an interactive website for children who love exploring and enquiring about the world around them. The internet is used here as a platform to engage children while educating them about environmental issues. CEE encourages a hands-on approach in order not only to inform children, but to encourage them to become passionate about environmental issues and action.

Specifically, Spaceship Earth is a regular feature in every issue of the monthly e-magazine. Each one examines an interesting aspect of our planet earth, supporting key points with colourful illustrations designed to help young readers explore different environments, plant and animal life, and systems that support the rich life on earth. In the Green Games section, children can play games that are designed not just to challenge skills and abilities but get one thinking, at the end conveying an environmental message. The Let's Do It! section offers do-it-yourself activity ideas that children can implement on their own, or with friends. For example, in light of the fact that the year 2008 has been declared the Year of the Frog (to raise awareness about this threatened species), children can learn how to make an origami frog in order to draw attention to these endangered creatures and spread the word about climate change. The Celebrate a Day section has a calendar of environmentally significant days, giving a brief history or background of why the day is observed, including some ideas for activities designed to help children observe these days - in school or with family and friends. The Krg Club is a forum where children can share poems, paintings, and thoughts on the environment. It is a chance to let other children in the world know more about oneself and what one does to improve the environment. The Green Gifts section gives children a chance to select designs for personalised stationery like letterheads, visiting cards, and bookmarks.

Development Issues: 

Environment, Education, Children.

Key Points: 

kidsRgreen was named a finalist in the 2008 Stockholm Challenge.

Source: 

Email from Pankaj Gorana to The Communication Initiative on September 17 2007; and
kidsRgreen website.

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Taking the MDGs Off Paper

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Author: 
Bunker Roy
Publication Date
July 30, 2007
Affiliation: 

Barefoot College

Source: 

e-CIVICUS, Issue 350, August 2007. Image credit: Photo by Flickr user Carolonline.

http://www.american.com/graphics/2007/july/chile.jpg

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Tales of Resettlement

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This initiative, created by Panos London and its partners, uses the internet as a platform for sharing the voices of people around the world who have been displaced by large-scale development projects

Communication Strategies: 

Interpersonal communication forms the centrepiece of this oral history initiative. Each project, to date, involved a training workshop for interviewers, followed by testimony collection in the field, transcription of the tape-recorded interviews in the language of interview and, later, translation into English as well. Most of the interviewers were members of the displaced communities; a few were fieldworkers working with the resettled. A range of community and national activities, in local and national languages, were developed to expose people to the testimonies. These activities included policy roundtable meetings, community debates, press conferences, and local language publications.

Ulimately, Panos London hopes to develop an online archive of these life stories, which is similar to Mountain Voices, as a way to share the full collection of testimonies and accompanying material with an international audience of policymakers, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), students, and academics working on related issues.

In the meantime, Panos London has created PDF versions of their partners' publications, which are available together with an introduction from Panos London on their website: click here. Many of the partners produced an English version of their publication or Panos London translated the local/national publication into English.

As of July 2008, Panos London is exploring approaches and funding to more widely communicate these testimonies to international audiences - for example, through an online archive similar to the Mountain Voices one referenced above and/or through a radio docudrama. They welcome suggestions from interested parties.

Development Issues: 

Rights, Displacement.

Partner Text: 

Panos London, SUNGI Development Foundation (Pakistan), Panos India, Panos Eastern Africa, Panos Southern Africa, Kuru Development Organisation (Botswana).

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Source: 

Emails from Panos London to The Communication Initiative on May 2 2007, July 10 2008, and December 7 2009; and Panos London website.

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The Access Road

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Publication Date
February 1, 2008
2008
February
Affiliation: 

United Villages, Inc.

Source: 

ICT Update website Issue 41: February 2008, accessed on May 5 2008.

http://ictupdate.cta.int/var/ictupdate/storage/images/media/images/issue_41_ict_the_access_road_en/57456-1-eng-GB/issue_41_ict_the_access_road_en_reference.jpg

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THINK WISE: The Global Cricket AIDS Partnership

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In advance of the February 2011 International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup, players and squads from the 14 competing countries teamed up to help combat the AIDS epidemic.

Communication Strategies: 

The campaign, running throughout the ICC Cricket World Cup, is using television, online media, and in-stadium messaging in the 3 countries hosting the tournament (Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka). The concept is that sport can help bring people together to address key issues and encourage social change. The partnership has 2 major components:

  1. THINK WISE awareness: The advocacy work carried out by the partnership and leading international cricketers is designed to deliver key information about HIV at the international, regional, and national levels through public service announcements (PSAs) - such as the one visible below - event publications, and the THINK WISE website. This information focuses on awareness, inclusion, and informed decision-making for young people and volunteers, coaches, and commentators and broadcasters about the AIDS epidemic.
  2. THINK WISE projects: The partnership is piloting community-based cricket for development projects, aimed at using the power and popularity of cricket to help young people develop the appropriate knowledge, attitudes, and skills to reduce their risk and vulnerability to HIV. For example, the campaign is being rolled out in schools and communities in match-playing cities to engage young people in HIV/AIDS education. The participating schools are building on the popularity of cricket, and excitement about the ICC Cricket World Cup, to engage young people in interactive HIV-prevention learning opportunities. Even the session on stigma and discrimination is delivered in a participatory style - e.g., games and group activities - designed to engage students in games and lively conversations.
Development Issues: 

HIV/AIDS, Children.

See video
Source: 

"UNICEF and World-class Cricketers Team up to Battle HIV and AIDS: ICC Cricket World Cup 2011", by Amy Farkas, UNICEF website, January 25 2011; and THINK WISE website, February 10 2011. Image credit: International Cricket Council/2010.

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Saving Newborn Lives by Increasing Use of Skilled Care in Rural India

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Communication Strategies: 

Interpersonal communication and capacity building are central to these efforts to support the Government of India's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare initiative to increase skilled attendance at birth. Observing that ANMs are the health care providers closest to communities and thus best-positioned to assist women during delivery, to refer them for emergency care, and even perform life-saving skills.

 

Specifically, ACCESS provided 37 ANMs with 12 weeks of refresher training on pregnancy, childbirth, and newborn care. The goal was to teach ANMs about active management of the third stage of labor (AMTSL), immediate postpartum care, postnatal and newborn danger signs, the importance of early breastfeeding, maintenance of newborn body temperature, newborn assessment, newborn resuscitation, newborn immunisation, etc. To facilitate this, two local ANM schools were equipped with clinical training materials, models, and skills labs; in addition, faculty and future trainers learned effective teaching skills. Clinical practice in communities was designed to help trainees translate skills they had learned within the lab - e.g., listening to a fetal heartbeat (using an anatomic model) - into a real-world scenario.

 

To increase demand for maternal and newborn care, ACCESS trained and mobilised community members in more than 200 villages. These villagers then raised awareness and advocated for local action. Community workers from a local non-governmental organisation (NGO) work with the villages - e.g., giving friendly advice whenever they cross paths with local pregnant women - and counsel women in their homes on birth preparedness and complications readiness (BP/CR), skilled care during childbirth, and postpartum and newborn care. By reaching out to other family members as well, the workers hoped to alert those in a position to help - e.g., husbands - as to the danger signs for mother and baby, and to prepare them for what to do when they observe these signs. Both community workers and ANMs are instructed to visit the new mother at home to engage in such communication as counselling on exclusive breastfeeding and family planning.

Development Issues: 

Children, Health.

Key Points: 

According to organisers, at the community level, knowledge about birth preparedness and complications readiness (BP/CR) was very low. For example, only about 7% of almost 800 recent mothers surveyed in August 2007 could name three or more newborn danger signs. In these rural areas, beyond the limited numbers of locally available, skilled health care providers, there are also other barriers to accessing skilled care: distance, transportation, cost, and unsatisfactory past experiences with the public health care system.

 

ACCESS claims that the project demonstrated the "numerous opportunities to save lives with skilled birth attendants and community mobilisation. ANMs, once trained, have been able to provide community-based maternal and newborn care competently and increase access to and use of these services. Moreover, women, families and communities in Dumka have quickly learned about maternal and newborn care, and have been willing and able to seek services, plan for childbirth and be prepared for complications." ACCESS interventions reportedly led to the following results, by August 2008:

  • 100% of mobilised villages have a functional emergency transport system for BP/CR during pregnancy and childbirth;
  • 69% were actively using the services provided by the ACCESS-trained ANM in their area;
  • over 270 community savings groups now have BP/CR savings plans; and
  • 100% of deliveries attended by ACCESS-trained ANMs in the past month received AMTSL, and the three key essentials of newborn care.
Partner Text: 

USAID, CEDPA, Jhpiego, Save the Children, Constella Futures, the Academy for Educational Development, the American College of Nurse-Midwives, and Interchurch Medical Assistance (IMA) World Health.

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Samvidha

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Communication Strategies: 

This information and communication technology (ICT) for Development (ICT4D) initiative is designed to address the fact that most schools in rural India cannot afford to connect to the internet, but need access to relevant content in answer to their queries on subjects related to their curriculum. Students are provided with a few terminals with an offline browser to enter their queries, which are then transmitted via email to a central server with a high bandwidth connection. The central server is responsible for query processing, content retrieval, and analysis. The web-based information is then filtered to ensure that the user gets relevant teaching and learning material. Specifically, the system stores domain knowledge for the subjects of interest in the form of an ontology of the concepts, the relationships between the concepts, and the list of words indicative of the various concepts. The user requirements are stored as a set of topics. Each topic is a collection of concepts and their associated importance with respect to the topic. The common requirements of a group can be taken as their curriculum content. Individual variations among the different students can be captured by their user profile, which includes each student's individual interests and capabilities. Domain knowledge and user profile may also be used to help students formulate better and more focused queries.

This idea of offering personalised content access and presentation is also reflected in the fact that navigation interfaces are offered in Bengali, Hindi, and English. Content which is appropriate for the user's needs is then emailed to the user in the school; information located on the internet is provided to the user in English or, where available, in a given Indian language.

Development Issues: 

Technology, Education, Children, Youth.

Partner Text: 

Media Lab Asia, IIT Kharagpur.

Source: 

"Samvidha: Making Internet Content Available to Rural Schools in India", the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Bangkok website - featured in News on ICT in Education, emailed to The Communication Initiative on January 2 2008; and Media Lab Asia website.

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Condom Bindaas Bol Campaign

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Communication Strategies: 

The campaign employed a 360-degree approach, seeking to reach both consumers and vendors through a mix of traditional and non-traditional media vehicles, public relations initiatives, and activities meant to address the stigma surrounding condom use by reducing the embarrassment associated with buying condoms. Research conducted by PSP-One revealed that: 1) condoms are a taboo subject in India; 2) discussion about the issue is almost always uncomfortable; and 3) this attitude could hinder use of the product. A strategy was developed to "normalise" the condom, positioning it as a product like any other for normal people, which meant that people shouldn't feel discomfort when simply saying the word 'condom'.

To promote the campaign, a series of TV advertisements (designed to be high-energy and engaging) were produced and provided to media partners, who then aired numerous stories about the campaign and condoms on key television channels and in print media such as: NDTV, Brunch, Brand Reporter, Pitch, and Hindustan Times. These mass media efforts were supported by town-level contests that invited people to reenact the television advertisement - be it by retailers, consumers, or celebrities- to create more impact and "buzz". Contest winners were given prizes by celebrities supporting the "Bindaas Bol" campaign. Additionally, the campaign partnered with male TV celebrities to do pro bono advertisements of them reenacting the advertisements, and gave media interviews to talk about the campaign and why they chose to endorse it.

To supplement the mass media activities, "Bindaas Bol" reached out to retailers and providers to actively engage them in the campaign. The project partnered with condom marketers to enhance retail visibility and access, informed over 40,000 health care providers (chemists, retailers stocking condoms, and indigenous medical practitioners) through project field representatives on sensitisation and the importance of correct and consistent use of condoms, and developed a contest exclusively for retailers. The winner of the contest was the retailer that had the best display of "Condom, Bindaas Bol" point of sale materials, prominently displayed their condom selection, and openly discussed condoms with their customers. According to campaign organisers, retailers responded enthusiastically to the contest, essentially "wallpapering" their shops with "Bindaas Bol" and other condom promotion materials.

Development Issues: 

Safe Sex, Family Planning.

Key Points: 

"Condom bindaas bol" was designed to address a decline in condom use and sales across 8 northern Indian states that account for 45% of the condom market in India. These states - Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Bihar and Jharkhand - make up 40% of India's population of more than 1 billion.

PSP-One contends that the programme proved to be an effective way of increasing the total condom market in North India and of changing attitudes towards use and users of condoms. During the project implementation period (2003 – 2006), the sales volume of commercial condom brands increased 6.4% (the compounded growth rate), and the value of commercial condom brands sold through retail outlets increased by 10.3% (also the compounded annual growth rate). In addition, organisers cite evidence indicating that the campaign was also successful in improving attitudes: consistent use of condoms with non-spousal partners amongst sexually active men increased from 75% to 80%; current condom use with spouses among married men increased from 38% to 60%; and there was a 16% increase amongst those reporting the belief that condoms are not only for commercial sex.

PSP-One points to the numerous partnerships developed with the private and commercial sectors and celebrities over the course of the campaign as crucial in leveraging cash and in-kind contributions. These contributions were in the form of product samples and merchandise from partner manufacturers, celebrity endorsements of the campaign, coverage in electronic media channels and dailies, and programme partners' contributions towards contests. The campaign continues to be supported by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), which is airing the Bindaas Bol adverts. Most importantly, in organisers' assessment, "Bindaas Bol" led the way and helped a number of other condom category campaigns focus on openly talking about condoms as the starting point for "normalisation".

"Bindaas Bol" has received accolades including: the United Nations Grand Award for Communications Excellence, the IPRA 2007 Golden World Awards for Excellence in public relations in the non-profit category, Silver Awards for Innovative Media Strategy at Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) GoaFest, the Special Award by Population First, and The Grand Effie Award for the most effective advertising campaign in 2007, which organisers claim represented the first time a social communication campaign received this award.

Partner Text: 

USAID, ICICI Bank, Private Sector Partnerships-One, the Indian Government's Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), LOWE-India, Corporate Voice Weber Shandwick (CVWS), JK Ansell, TTK-LIG, and Hindustan Latex Ltd.

Source: 

Emails from Angela Milton and Ashleigh Hodge to The Communication Initiative on January 21 2008 and September 3 2008, respectively; "PSP-One India's 'Condom Bindaas Bol' Campaign Wins UN Award"; "Growing the Condom Market in India: Bindaas Bol Campaign", by Anand Sinha, April 2008; and "When Being 'Bindaas' Matters", by Sravanthi Challapalli, The Hindu Business Line, September 13 2007.

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