Feb 2010 – Feb 2011
CORDAID & The Netherlands Embassy in Nigeria
The FEMSCRIPT project sheds light on the human rights conditions of women in the Niger Delta, who are glaringly absent in many human rights reports published about the region over the past decade. Rather than bringing in external researchers and documentary makers to document the human rights conditions of women, FEMSCRIPT trains local women to do so themselves.
FEMSCRIPT kicked off in 2010 by an intensive long-term Action Learning Trajectory for nine young women from Bayelsa State, Delta State, and Rivers State. The women were familiarised with human rights concepts, acquired basic research skills, and learned how to make small video documentaries. The skills were transferred on a learning-by-doing basis, combining in-depth training workshops with hands-on fieldwork in the trainees’ home communities guided by professional researchers and film makers. In the process, the women were encouraged to critically reflect on their own human rights and conflict experiences.
Rather than bringing in external researchers and filmmakers to document the lives of women, FEMSCRIPT enabled local women to conduct their own research and produce their own films - giving them full control over the information and images produced out about them and empowering them to express in their own words what matters to them. This is extremely important in the context of the Niger Delta, where key players in the crisis claim to fight on behalf of ‘the Niger Delta people’ while merely filling their own pockets.
The response received to the FEMSCRIPT traineeship vacancy was overwhelming. MIND regretfully had to turn down many great candidates, but the nine trainees who made it through the competitive selection procedure together formed a winning team. Thanks to their hard work, great team spirit, and strong personal ties with their home communities they were able to gather an impressive amount of research data from nine different LGAs across the three target states (see below).
Beased on the research findings, each trainee chose one issue that she considered key for promoting women’s advancement in her own home town. About these topics, the trainees jointly produced nine short films (8-12 min each):
- Access to Health Care: Tuomo (Bayelsa State) & Olomoro (Delta State)
- Women’s Work Load: Akassa (Bayelsa State) & Patani (Delta State)
- Rights of Widows: Amassoma (Bayelsa State) & Bodo-City (Rivers State)
- Access to Water: Obiaruku (Delta State)
- Right to Education: Belema-Polo (Rivers State)
- Environmental Pollution: Bonny (Rivers State)
The short films have been made freely available to NGOs across the Niger Delta interested in sensitising people in their project communities on gender and sparking dialogues on women's empowerment.
Though initially devised for local advocacy purposes, the FEMSCRIPT film footage seemed important enough to be shared with a wider audience. The footage portrays people's daily lives and struggles in the Niger Delta - including villages deep down in the creeks where journalists hardly dare to come. Thanks to a grant from the German Embassy, we were able to collect additional footage and produce the 56-min documentary ‘Daughters of the Niger Delta’.