Five years ago Amnesty International launched It’s My Body!, a programme to support young activists in Argentina, Chile and Peru to improve their knowledge of sexual and reproductive rights, and to train a new generation of activists with the skills and tools to take part in the debates leading to decisions about them.
Creativity, peer education and youth centrism have been the approaches that have marked this programme.
As a final part of the programme, Amnesty International has asked activist groups in each country to consider the impact the programme has had on their lives. Reflecting the key approach of the programme, in which young people are the leaders of all activities, this evaluation stage was conducted in a participatory and creative manner. The plan was to empower young people to create an audiovisual piece in which they could express what they had learned in order to tell a story from their perspectives and experiences, in their preferred creative language. To do this, Amnesty worked with La Combi – Arte Rodeante, a video production house specialising in the creation of participatory audiovisual materials. “The production of participatory audiovisual pieces allows creators to document their ideas from their own point of view. The audiovisual process becomes a very powerful tool for collective expression and generates learning and reflection. The focus on non-hierarchical working has also permitted closer links between the young filmmakers”, says Carolina Martín de Ramón, Co-director of La Combi – Arte Rodeante. The workshop facilitation team guided activists through the process of defining and writing a script, with the aim of giving them the tools to put their ideas in front of the camera without influencing the choice of
story or subject matter. Young activists from the three countries were also given the technical skills necessary to record their own video and edit the final output, allowing them to tell a story of their choice in their own words.
Young people in Argentina, Chile and Peru face similar barriers and issues in all three countries where people are still not allowed to talk openly about young people’s sexual and reproductive rights, neutral comprehensive sexuality education in schools is limited and finally the lack of adequate policies on the issue further accentuates this problem. However, the three countries have different histories, traditions and political contexts, which are reflected in the videos produced. “When we opened up the video production process to make it fully participatory, we didn’t know what we were going to get from the activists. It has been very interesting to see how they have developed intimate stories and stories about their personal journeys and growth in such an artistic way, according to the differences between them, but true to themselves, their profiles and the impact of It’s My Body”, Imke van der Velde, Regional Education Coordinator for Amnesty International, says about the video production process.
The video by the activist group from Argentina focuses on the personal journey that the project has inspired in them. The young people have questions that often remain unanswered, but they are aware of the stark contrast with their situation. While one possibility is to adopt a passive stance, the video ends by demonstrating that there is another way, through personal involvement and the role of activist.“In the video we created, we decided to show the internal process of getting involved in human rights activism, bringing together the stages in a process that all three young women who worked on this creative project went through.” Noe, activist from Argentina.
The young Chileans behind the video focused on a more personal and intimate journey of self-discovery. The video talks about the raw discomfort that young people go through when growing up: Who hasn’t felt out of place at some point in their lives? How to give young people the right answers? But discomfort forces them to make a choice, and the choice is to transform fear into power and to claim what they need to be conscious and committed citizens: information, freedom and decision-making power.
This video, produced by a group of a variety of young people from different parts of the country, has a different tone and talks about the direct implications of not having information about sexual and reproductive rights. The cause? A culture that is not yet prepared to answer basic questions in the face of the reality of a young woman who is discovering herself and who wants to live her emotional and sexual relationships to the full. “In our microvideo we want to illustrate the reality of what is happening. In Peru there is a very high rate of teenage pregnancy, and this happens because of a lack of information. Many people I know, friends and classmates, have become pregnant. At school they don’t talk to us about this issue, which is a very important one.” Katherina, activist from Peru.
The three videos are very different in their character, language and style. They are the products of young people and their different cultural contexts – and sometimes their rebelliousness towards them – and reflect their worries and concerns, as well as the ideas for change that young people have and that will continue to influence and guide them beyond the programme.
From gender culture, through youth pregnancy, to climate change and sexual and gender-based violence, these videos reflect current issues that are vital to young people, and shed light on activists who are ready, willing and able to take an active role in discussions to motivate and bring about social and cultural change in their countries.