What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?
In 1992, while working as director of the KZN province for South African Women’s Association, it became very apparent to RWM’s director, Sizani Ngubane, that there was a large discrepancy between the public visibility of men and women. Policies and public narratives were being informed only by the experiences of men. Women’s experiences, thoughts, beliefs and customs, were not being documented and thus increasingly under or misrepresented and threatened. Unfortunately at the time, Sizani was not able to begin implementing her dream of a women-driven documentary collaboration, and the project had to wait until 2007.
Beginning 2007, RWM began experimenting with documentaries and photo voice collaborations with several allies, most notably University of California Davis. These projects centered around third party documentation of rural women’s experiences. However, these collaborations have empowered our organization to take that final step and begin planning a participatory video project that provides both sustainability and longevity in its product and support.
In May of 2010, Sizani was connected with the organization InSight Share, well known in South Africa for their successful participatory video projects. Over several meetings, the mutual beliefs of respect and community empowerment were realized between RWM and InSight Share, and Sizani’s dream began to take tangible shape.
Like RWM, when InSight Share enters a community, the organization does not come with an agenda. It is up to the community to inform and shape the project. Here is a direct quote from Neville Meyer of InSight Share during one of RWM and InSight Share's meetings: “All we do is to facilitate, we might not even end up with a film. We could just be facilitating dialogue, but this is what builds energy and momentum.”
The first several days of the project are spent experimenting with the camera, which is then followed by an in depth process of deciding what the specific subjects of the film will be. This is followed by a selection and debate process about what subjects will make the biggest impact and shift in our community.
RWM and InSight Share are incredibly excited about this proposed project and we mutually feel that this project will have long-lasting, positive impacts on the communities involved, expanding year after year and helping to empower others.
Tell us about the social innovator—the person—behind this idea.
Sizani Ngubane is the founder and director of the Rural Women's Movement. She has been an activist in women's rights for over forty years, and her passion for social advocacy began as a young woman. As a Zulu speaking woman, she grew up in the rural areas just outside Pietermaritzburg, KZN. Due to her family's financial situation, she was unable to complete High School, but made it a priority to educate herself. She used her self-education and determination to become and advocate for herself and others. Her skills and abilities were recognized when she was appointed as the first organizer in the Northern Natal Region by the African National Congress (ANC). She followed her work with the ANC and the liberation movement, working as a gender specialist for the Association for Rural Advancement in KwaZulu Natal. Serving as the organizational director for KwaZulu Natal, Sizani received exemplary honors for her work on rural women's issues with the National Women's Commission.
Since her days with the ANC, Sizani had dreamt of creating a rural women's advocacy organization, a network where women from all over the country could share experiences, expertise, aid, and support for their sisters. In 1998, she was finally able to accomplish this dream and initiated the Rural Women's Movement with 250 rural women of KwaZulu Natal. For the past ten years, Sizani has dedicated her life to the empowerment improvement of women's rights both in regionally, nationally, and internationally. She has appeared numerous times before South Africa's Parliament to inform and lobby the government on women's rights and issues. Sizani has also been invited to speak at several UN Conferences on the Status of Women and lectured internationally on the apartheid and women's rights in South Africa.
How did you first hear about Changemakers?
Newsletter from Changemakers
If through another source, please provide the information.
Approximately 50 words left (400 characters).