UNESCO empowers indigenous women in Central America through ICT
“Fear” was the word used often by women from Ngöbe-Buglé indigenous community in Costa Rica when they talked about their first experience in front of a microphone, computer or video-camera. Even more crippling than fear to speak in public or ask someone a question is a profound belief that a woman’s role should be limited to taking care of children and homes.
The exercise which solicited ideas for radio stories about Ngöbe-Buglé home-makers revealed that, although women practice traditional cooking, handicrafts and medicine on a daily basis, they do not consider themselves as guardians of traditions. Usually this role is reserved to sukia, a healer in indigenous societies across Central America. On their way to the knowledge society, Ngöbe-Buglé, Sutiaba, Nahoas-Nicarao, Chorotegas-Nahuas-Mangues y Cacaopera-Matagalpa and Guna communities have to count with illiteracy, unemployment and poverty. High rate of teenage pregnancies affects the number of girls continuing their studies.
To organize a series of workshops on ICTs, radio and video for women from indigenous communities in Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua, UNESCO partnered with the Sustainable Development Network (RDS) NGO and the Indigenous Movement of Nicaragua, as well as Centre for Social Development Studies (CEDES) NGO in Panama. From July to October 2013, the workshops were taking place in San Felix, Chiriqui province in Panama; La Casona, Punta Arenas province in Costa Rica; and in Managua for participants from Pacific, Centre and North regions of Nicaragua.
After theoretical and practical courses, women recorded and edited stories about traditions, legends, cosmology as well as everyday community life. In the Rural College of La Casona, trainees scripted, played, filmed and edited socially-important messages. In Nicaragua, training yielded 12 audiovisual products and 20 radio and audiovisual pieces in Panama and Costa Rica. More than 75 women, mostly mistresses of families, acquired a combined set of competencies (knowledge, skills and attitude), graduating from users of mobile phones to potential producers of information and media content, who can make their voice heard. More workshops and exchange meetings are planned until December 2013.
UNESCO will continue strengthening communication capacities of indigenous communities, in particular women, with objective of introducing audiovisual content generated by the communities into media at provincial and national levels.