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Connecting with communities through digital stories

Graphic: Participants at the APF workshop learn digital storytelling skills

With social media a key tool for advocacy, participants from 20 NHRIs have learned practical skills in digital storytelling to support their work.

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With social media and video becoming an ever more important tool for education and advocacy, participants from 20 national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in the region have learned practical skills in making digital stories to support their work.

As part of a three-day meeting in Dhaka, Bangladesh, members of the APF Communications Network learned the basic elements of video production, including how to edit interviews they had filmed on a smart phone, add overlay footage and mix in music.

By the end of the session, all participants had created a short video on what gender equality means to women and girls in their respective countries.

"Honest and authentic stories have always been powerful tool for human rights advocacy," said APF Communications Expert James Iliffe, who led the workshop.

"Digital stories shared on social media allow us to connect with people even more directly and motivate them to act."

This digital story to promote Human Rights Day in Samoa was a produced as part of the APF Communications Network workshop.

The second meeting of the APF Communications Network was an opportunity for participants to share experiences, ask questions and identify a shared sense of purpose and possibilities. The workshop included presentations on:

  • How the Philippines' Commission on Human Rights has sought to build public support for its work at a time when respect for human rights is under grave threat
  • A ground-breaking national inquiry into family violence by the Ombudsman of Samoa and the pivotal role storytelling has played in building community engagement on this sensitive topic, especially among men
  • The steps the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission has taken to integrate human rights into the education curriculum, in order to break a decades-long culture of war and conflict
  • Social media campaigns to counter racism in the community, developed by that NHRIs of Australia and New Zealand.

Graphic: Members of the APF Communications Network

The National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh, who generously hosted the workshop, described their work to promote and protect human rights, including monitoring the situation of Rohingya refugees arriving from Myanmar and advocating for their rights.

A session was also set aside to discuss the importance of building partnerships to promote human rights values, with contributions from the NHRIs of Malaysia, the Maldives, Indonesia, Palestine and Afghanistan.

There were also practical sessions on strategies for engaging with the media on sensitive issues, as well as planning the key elements of an effective social media campaign.

Meeting for the first time since April 2016, the workshop allowed members of the APF Communications Network to deepen their professional connections. As one participant noted, "the collegiality in the group was exceptional".

The conversations started at the workshop will continue on through private groups on Facebook and WhatsApp.

Date: 30 November 2017

Image credits

  1. Participants at the APF workshop learn digital storytelling skills - Subodh Pokharel
  2. Members of the APF Communications Network - APF/James Iliffe