Activists have a wealth of online and offline resources that can assist them in promoting and moving their campaigns forward. There are some resources geared towards a specific target population. The new resource Women's Rights Campaigning Info-Activism Toolkit by Tactical Tech is an example.
Launched initially in January 2014, it is now available in the following languages: Arabic,Kiswahili, Hindi and Bengali and available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, allowing users to adapt the content to make it more relevant for their area.
In an email interview, Lisa Gutermuth, Project Manager at Tactical Tech spoke to us more about the booklet.
Rising Voices (RV): What in the toolkit makes it specifically focused on and addressed to women? Can you provide us with concrete evidence given that sometimes in the examples there are cases studies not necessarily related to women?
Lisa Gutermuth (LG): The toolkit includes 20 women-specific campaigning examples including ‘Women on British Bank Notes,’ ‘Infoladies Project,’ and the ‘Blank Noise campaign,’ to name a few. The toolkit was built off previous content and research that Tactical Tech has worked on over the past 10 years, and some examples have been included because they correspond to or illustrate a specific campaigning tool or strategy. The anti-corruption rupee, for example, is a great example of how print can be used in a creative way. This kind of strategy could be adapted by women's rights campaigners for their own messages and campaign goals. All the case studies are there to offer inspiration in some way.
RV: What explains the choice of languages: English, Arabic, Bangla, Swahili, and Hindi?
LG: The toolkit was created as part of CREA's ‘New Voices / New Leaders: Women Building Peace and Reshaping Democracy project,’ which has a specific focus on women's rights issues in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. The languages selected are the ones which could reach larger numbers of people in those regions.
Often toolkits like this are published but are not actually used on the ground by the local grassroots organisations they are created for. There are a number of reasons for this – one is that these organisations don’t feel ownership over the toolkit; another is the simple fact that that when trying to be inventive, working in a language that's not your mother-tongue can be an added challenge. It can make a massive difference if the material is translated into local languages. Working with partner organisations on the ground also meant that their feedback and experiences could be worked into the final product (our partners are listed here. I should also mention at this point that almost all of Tactical Tech's content is licensed under Creative Commons, so that it can be translated and adapted to different contexts by other groups.
RV: Aside from publishing it, how do you intend to leverage the toolkit?
LG: The printed toolkits will be distributed to our partners, who will use them in workshops with the communities that they engage with. We communicated a lot with our partner organisations to find out what the most useful format for them would be. What was strongly communicated across the board was that the printed version should be workshop material that can be used interactively, so this is how it has been designed.
RV: What monitoring and evaluation do you advocate? Has the toolkit been tested before its launch ?
LG: The creation process was interactive and focused on the needs of our local partner organisations. Before we made the website they reviewed much of the content and gave us their feedback. Also, before the website was translated, some of the partners tested it out in meetings and workshops to see if there were aspects that would be more or less relevant to their language version. Further monitoring and evaluation will be done after the toolkits are distributed, after communities have had time to interact with the content more deeply.
RV: Are you getting feedback from toolkit users? Can you give us an example? if yes, which are your favourite campaigns that have used the toolkit?
LG: So far we've had a lot of really positive feedback, especially from online media and groups that deal with women’s rights in some way. We’ve also had many email requests for the print version, which will be out very soon.
RV: Has it been used by groups that are not female-focused?
LG: Not that I know of yet, but as I said it’s really just beginning the outreach phase. That said, much of the content can be applied to any type of campaigning. This is especially true of the ‘basics’ section, which lays out the different factors that need to be considered at the outset of any campaign.
RV: Is this toolkit alone a guarantee for the success of a campaign?
LG: There are so many factors that determine whether a campaign is successful or not that it's an impossible thing to guarantee. What the toolkit offers, though, is a lot of valuable information, and it can serve as a very good reference for campaign planners to find new ideas and inspiration. The point is to stay dynamic and attuned to these factors, and the Women’s Rights Info-Activism Toolkit offers guidance here.
RV: Finally, what haven't I asked you that you would like to tell us?
LG: I think one unique aspect of the Women's Rights Info-Activism Toolkit is the consideration of digital security and privacy while using online tools in an advocacy context. There is a section in ‘Basics’ dedicated to explaining digital security, as well as many digital tools reviewed, as it is very important to consider your security both offline and
online in any advocacy engagement.