Video Volunteers Is An Official Partner Of ‘World Summit On The Information Society’

Two years on, Video Volunteers brings community media to the prestigious U.N. sponsored World Summit on the Information Society as an official partner. Scheduled to be held at Geneva, Switzerland from May 16-20, Video Volunteers will be a participant in the summit’s Community Media panel.

Video Volunteers partnership with the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) began in 2010 when the summit was held from 10 to 14 of May,2011 at the ITU Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland. The history of WSIS is 9 years old.The first phase of the summit took place in Geneva in December 2003, and the second phase took place in Tunis in November 2005. Since 2010 the summit has developed the tradition of meeting annually every May.

Accordingly the forthcoming summit will be held from 16-20 May with Geneva as its permanent venue. Says Stalin K, VV’s founding director, “Typically, in international (or national or whatever level) public policy building forums like the WSIS Forum the voices and opinions of the poor and marginalized communities, who are often cited as the ‘beneficiaries’ of the communication and information revolution, is almost always missing. It is quite disheartening to see processes where urban and privileged classes sit in air-conditioned halls  and decide matters for the rest of the world. In such a scenario it becomes imperative, for the sake of ‘democratic discourse’ , to bring in the voices of the unheard communities so that policies and trends are rooted in realities of the poor. Video Volunteers, thanks to its immense network of grassroots video producers and correspondents, are happy to be playing this part.”

To read more about WSIS, click here.

The summit in 2010 specifically provided structured opportunities to network, learn and to participate in multi-stakeholder discussions and consultations on WSIS implementation.Video Volunteers was invited by the forum to hold a thematic workshop on community media – the only organization among the 430 participants to be selected in the category.

Video Volunteers' Stand at the UN's WSIS Forum 2010

Video Volunteers' Booth at the World Summit on the Information Society'2010

Says Jessica Mayberry, Video Volunteers’ founding director, “It was a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate the power of community video in driving economic and social improvements in local villages across India by providing the poor the tools they need to make change possible.” At the summit Video Volunteers shared its experiences on how community media can provide a livelihood and voice to community members and how it can be used to encourage community action-taking. It discussed the possibilities and challenges for community media around scalability, financial sustainability and working with the mainstream media. The discussion included presented two of VV’s unique community media models: Community Video Unit and IndiaUnheard -Community New Service. This was followed by a screening of some videos made by VV’s rural community producers and correspondents. These videos sparked excitement and discussion on the potential of community media and the need to extend this work in other countries around the world.

The participants at the forum listened in rapt attention when Video Volunteers representatives explained the challenge of producing community news in areas that are still untouched by the global digital revolution. Later, diplomats and other change makers in attendance had numerous ideas on extending community media to enhance and share stories from coffee plantation workers struggling to survive and be heard in South America to raising awareness on the numerous issues women face in Africa.

Says Gitanjali Sah, Project Officer, WSIS Team, “The videos produced by Video Volunteers were excellent and well appreciated by all. The session on Video Volunteers was also well appreciated. In the report back meeting – held on the closing ceremony day of the summit- we received several encouraging comments on the thematic workshops – many participants commended Video Volunteers’ workshop as well.

WSIS 2011, 16-20 May, Geneva

According to Sah, in the 2011 forum will have special focus on community media and empowering Community producers will be its central goal.” Video Volunteers is determined to bring more community voices at this summit and help the forum members through sharing of experiences understand the potential of community media as a powerful tool in both providing the poor a medium to tackle their problems, as well as bridge the digital gap that divides the community media producers and the global audience. To read more about WSIS Forum 2010, visit the forum’s official page.