The Global Alliance Against Traffic of Women (GAATW) invites applications for a media workshop, ‘Women: Agents Of Change Or Victims Of Abuse? : Reporting Labour Migration’
Up to 20 journalists will receive support to participate in a four-day workshop in Bangkok on 3-6 October 2015. The proposed workshop is a part of GAATW’s efforts to bring back the focus on women migrants from victims and sensationalised objects to agents of change, and subjects of hope, determination, and self-reliance. Following the workshop in October, 8 participants will be selected by November 2015, for fellowships to publish five stories each on labour migration and human trafficking. Each awardee will be expected to produce and publish (at least) 2 x 800-word articles, and 3 x 1,200- word articles.
The workshop is open to mid-level to senior journalists from the print media in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, reporting in English or the regional languages. The cost of travel and accommodation to attend the workshop will be supported by GAATW.
HOW TO APPLY
Applications should be submitted latest by 05 September 2015. Selected applicants will be notified of their selection by 15 September 2015. Incomplete or late applications will not be considered.
Provide a short profile (no more than 100 words) that summarizes your professional career including your current position (work title/news organization, if appropriate); publications that you have written for and/or other news organizations that you have worked for; journalism awards you have won; beats and issues that you cover; special interests, etc.
Send us 3 samples of published work, including publication dates, in either a single or multiple PDFs or Word documents. If your work samples are not in English, please include a summary of their contents in English.
In addition to the above, we ask you to provide us a 500-word personal statement explaining why you think you are eligible for this workshop. The note may include your journalistic experiences, values and interests that influence your decision to apply for this workshop. It should also explain how your proposed articles or course of research could have impact on bringing back the focus on women migrants as agents of change.
WOMEN: AGENTS OF CHANGE OR VICTIMS OF ABUSE?
REPORTING LABOUR MIGRATION
As a consequence of several factors including globalisation, people are moving across borders in unprecedented numbers. Women in particular, are crossing international borders as never before in history. Across South Asia they leave their homes in search of better lives and livelihoods in the hope of improving their economic and social status. Even as international migration is increasingly feminised, women migrants often end up in low-paid, low-skilled work with few or no labour rights. Studies show that women from countries of the sub-region are employed in affluent countries of the Middle East in poorly- paid jobs including in the garment industry and in domestic work. They routinely work in the latter as nannies, having left their own children behind paradoxically to be taken care of by their own family members.
Unfortunately, exploitation and trafficking have become signature characteristics of labour migration of both women and men. The gender blind policies, high-costs, time-consuming procedures and stringent visa restrictions for emigration push the less-privileged to resort to illegal and unsafe means of travel in the form of undocumented migration; in the process, women are abused and exploited by agents and criminal employers. Sending States seem to be playing an ambiguous and questionable role in the process of labour migration; on the one hand they are promoting it as an employment option and a foreign exchange earner, and on the other, reneging on their responsibility to protect the rights of their migrant workers and citizens. Most countries of origin and destination have weak labour laws with many female-dominated jobs falling outside the purview of the labour sector and laws. When abuse is reported, many South Asian countries respond with protectionist restrictions on women’s mobility rather than stepping up measures to protect and strengthen women’s rights.
The media plays a crucial role in shaping public perception about migrants, migration regimes and state agencies that facilitate migration. As such, the role of the media is also seminal in influencing migration policies. However, journalists reporting on complex issues such as labour, poverty, migration, rights and rights violations especially of the marginalised, often portray migrants, especially women migrants, only as victims. Media reports tend to be sensational while reporting abuse, and represent women migrants as passive, powerless objects. Undoubtedly, trafficking of human beings is a gross human rights violation that requires serious media attention for often women may be in the way of grievous harm as a result of it. However, media focus should remain on providing redress to the trafficked persons with a view to restoring her rights and ending such a practice rather than on sensationalizing misery or objectifying her. It is important to also keep in mind that while reporting on migration and trafficking, the role of the media not be aimed at surveillance, regulating cross border migration and women's mobility but rather at reflecting the lived reality and diverse experience of women migrants as subjects rather than as objects. This includes the story of their entrepreneurial spirit and courage in negotiating and overcoming enormous difficulties to carve out a better life for themselves and their families.
How can media report beyond the binaries and stereotypes - women as trafficked victims and men as workers, women as sexual slaves; undesirable economic migrants and indigent refugees fleeing egregious violence? How does international capital engender pauperisation, displacement and migration? What are the links between global capitalism and migration, both legal and undocumented? Why and under what conditions do States and corporations support the demand of legal status for undocumented immigrants? What are the factors that propel women to risk their lives in order to seek a better future in the Middle East and elsewhere? Are these motivations merely economic or are they also to escape oppression in families and communities? Do these migratory flows continue when the reality at the destination point is revealed? Have we ignored success stories of migrants who have made a better life for themselves and their families? What factors contribute to these successes? Who and where are the heroes of migration rather than only “survivors” of trafficking? How can these narratives of journeys, adventures, and courage be told in ways that validate the women and their lives?
The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW) is a network of more than 120 non-governmental organisations working on the issue of human rights in the context of labour migration, especially female labour migration. We began our work 20-years ago by listening to the stories of migrating women, their dreams, aspirations, fears, and frustrations. Over the years we have met many women who have gone through adverse terrible experiences in the course of their journeys and yet have not given up. It is their strength and courage that has inspired us to continue our advocacy for social change.
The proposed four-day media workshop in Bangkok is a part of GAATW’s efforts to bring back the focus on women migrants from victims and sensationalised objects to agents of change, and subjects of hope, determination, and self-reliance.
- Bring together print journalists from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, writing in English and regional languages, to share and analyse the way women migrants are portrayed and to better understand from journalists, what drives a story and how articles are framed.
- Develop a concrete plan to strengthen affirmative and realistic reporting on labour migration, which captures the diversity of migrant women's lived experiences and their role in transforming their families, communities as well as their own individual lives.
- In consultation with the print journalists, civil society activists and experts, identify ways to build knowledge on women’s migration and changing patterns as well as related issues, from a human- rights perspective.
- Create a platform for sharing knowledge and expertise, as well as discuss learning opportunities for strengthening the quality of reporting through an enhanced focus on accuracy, fairness, balance, human rights and representation of migrant women in the media.
- It is envisaged that following the workshop, GAATW will award scholarships to selected participating journalists to produce five articles on the migration of women in collaboration with project partners in each country. The awardees will be chosen for their demonstrated reporting skills from a human- rights perspective.
Key Criteria for selection
- This initiative is aimed at mid-level to senior journalists from the print media in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
- Selected journalists may report in English or the regional languages.
- Selection will be based upon writing samples and interest in the issue.
- Following the meeting, 8 participants will be selected for scholarships to publish five stories each on labour migration and human trafficking. Each awardee will be expected to produce and publish (at least) 2 x 800-word articles, and 3 x 1,200-word articles.
- August - September 2015: Publication of the invitation and Call for Applications. Deadline for receiving applications - 5 September.
- October 2015: A three-day workshop and will take place in the beginning of October 2015, in Bangkok, Thailand.
- November 2015: Announcement of the Scholarship to 8 participants to publish five stories on labour migration and human trafficking.
- December 2016: Scholarship awardees will be expected to produce and publish the five stories by the end of 2016.