UNODC conducts in Dushanbe a regional workshop on visual stories for human rights advocacy

Visual storytelling is a powerful tool in human rights advocacy to raise legal awareness and reduce the stigma and discrimination against people in prison, people who use drugs and people living with HIV.

On 16-18 May, UNODC conducted a regional workshop on visual stories for human rights advocacy for civil society, government and law enforcement professionals from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan who work with and provide legal assistance to people in prisons, people affected by HIV, and people who use drugs.

The workshop aimed to strengthen participants’ visual storytelling techniques, including the use of mobile photography and filmmaking technical skills for effectively imparting knowledge to a variety of target audiences.

“The workshop provides a unique opportunity for rights groups in Central Asia to share ideas, exchange best practices with like-minded practitioners, and foster critical thinking on pressing human rights and health issues amongst participants and with Picture People’s trainers,” said Mutabara Vohidova, National Project Officer, UNODC Programme Office in Tajikistan, in her opening remarks.

For three intense days, the participants learned to capture professional-quality photos and videos on their smartphones as well as use visuals ethically and effectively to develop a visual project to advocate issues related to HIV and drug use.

The workshop was delivered by Claudia Modonesi, Picture People* Chief Executive Officer, human rights expert and media trainer, and Nick Danziger, Picture People Director, photojournalist, filmmaker and author.

“We live in a visual era, where digital media and technology go hand in hand to give us the best visual experience within reach, whether it is on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. It is crucial for human rights defenders and advocates in Central Asia to make the best use of video and images to inform, denounce and raise awareness on human-interest stories that need to be seen and heard to influence social change,” said Claudia Modonesi.

“It was extremely rewarding to work with such a committed and engaged group of people from across the Central Asian region advocating for better health for people living with HIV,” she added.

Upon completion of the workshop, the participants were awarded certificates. They thanked the organizers and trainers and assessed the workshop very positively.

“Excellent emotional atmosphere, productive knowledge, practical sessions. The programme was very intensive, the trainers are high-caliber professionals! During the workshop, we learned how to visually communicate with the audience and convey information at the emotional level tailored to each case. We tried our hand at applying the acquired knowledge and skills in the development of visual projects in PechaKucha presentation format. We worked in teams and jointly chose the topic of the project. Lively discussions, development of presentations using videos and photos - where each team managed to demonstrate their vision on how to visually increase the effectiveness of their human rights activities. I will continue to study visual storytelling on my own and improve my skills acquired at this workshop,” said Valentina Mankieva from Kazakhstan.

“The workshop was held in an absolutely positive and friendly atmosphere. I participated in such an event for the first time. The trainers shared with us their extensive and valuable experience. For myself, I acquired the skills of visual advocacy centered on the human being. I thank the organizers and trainers, participants of the event for the opportunity to have such a theoretically and practically useful communication,” said Elena Hasanova, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist from NGO SPIN Plus in Tajikistan.

“Visual storytelling is the leading trend today, so it is very important to have the skills to use it effectively in your work. The workshop was conducted at a high level. Presentations by trainers, practical exercises, creative atmosphere, communication with colleagues - everything was perfect. The trainers are not just cool pros, but very interesting people. I thank UNODC for the excellent organization of the event, the trainers and all the participants!” highlighted Marina Maximova from Kazakhstan.

The workshop was conducted within Sub-programme 3 “Addressing drug use, increasing treatment of drug use disorders and preventing HIV/AIDS” of the UNODC Programme for Central Asia 2022-2025.

*Picture People is a UK not-for-profit organisation that trains and supports human rights activists and filmmakers to produce and use films to effectively expose human rights abuses, change public perceptions and influence change.

Source: United Nations in Tajikistan