The Pixel Project Selection 2016: 16 Of The Pixel Project’s Best Interview Articles

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For the past 8 years, The Pixel Project has worked at the intersection of social media, pop culture, the arts, journalism, activism, and new technologies to shine a light on the the many ways violence against women (VAW) affects the lives of women and girls in communities and cultures worldwide.

Blogging is one of the major pillars of our social media-driven awareness-raising and educational work. More than any other social media platforms that we use, blogging empowers us to present in-depth articles, op-eds and interviews that go beyond the soundbites. As we grew as an anti-VAW organisation, we have gradually focused our blogging efforts on interviews to help activists, allies and survivors tell their stories and share their ideas with others first-hand.

In 2016, we marched on with our annual interview-format blogging campaigns:

Together, these interviews form an inspirational tapestry of ideas, stories, and calls-to-action from remarkable individuals, communities and allies that are at the front lines of bringing the change that is so desperately needed to end VAW.

If you have missed any of our blog interview campaigns this year or are new to The Pixel Project’s work, this selection of this year’s 16 best Pixel Project blog interview articles of 2016 will be a great starting point. We hope that the stories we share motivate you to join the effort to end VAW.

It’s time to stop violence against women. Together.

Written and compiled by Regina Yau and Suloshini Jahanath. Introduction by Regina Yau.

All headshots courtesy of the interviewees.
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Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #1: Survivor Stories Interview – Becky Paroz, Australia

becky-paroz_headshotcWhile Becky had an award-winning career as a project manager in the construction industry, her alter ego Bekstar was the personality that learned to manage the outcomes of growing up in a domestic violence situation and being diagnosed with a crippling disease while still a teenager. Her published writings capture her insights, journey, horror and humour that encapsulates her life, including the solutions she found to live her life to the fullest. Speaking about how she went about rebuilding her life after escaping her situation, she says: My main thought for the aftermath is that while I could not choose what happened to me during [my father’s] controlling years, I could certainly choose my actions beyond that point. Making conscious choices about what I want as a person, instead of what I don’t want as a result of those experiences, is the most clear way I can phrase how I have become the successful person I am today.

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #2: 30 For 30 Father’s Day Campaign Interview – Bernardo Rosa Rodriguez, Portugal

Bernardo Rodriguez is a public relations professional in Brussels who has lived in Rome, Jakarta and Washington DC. He has contributed to progressive political groups and campaigns (including women’s human rights causes) for many years. When talking about how dads can help stop VAW, he says: “The first step is to set the example and treat all girls and women respectfully and as equals. […]Young men need to be told that being a man is not about force or domination. It’s about respecting others and not being afraid to stand up and call out abusive language or behaviour, even (especially!) in your own circles. Because it’s time this stops being acceptable.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #3: Survivor Stories Interview – Elizabeth K. Switaj, USA and Marshall Islands

elizabeth-switaj_croppedElizabeth is a survivor of intimate relationship violence. She currently teaches literature, creative writing and composition at the College of the Marshall Islands on Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands, where she lives with four formerly feral cats, including one with twisted back legs. She is the author of literary guide James Joyce’s Teaching Life and Methods and a collection of poems, Magdalene & the Mermaids. Speaking about ways to end VAW, she says: We need better education about what healthy relationships look like. When I say education, I’m not referring only to formal in-school lessons, but also to media narratives. As an academic, my specialisation is pedagogy in literature. If the experimental texts of High Modernism can teach readers how to understand them, then surely texts can show us how to have relationships without violence and how to recognise and escape toxic situations.

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #4: 30 for 30 Father’s Day Campaign Interview – Evanson Njeru, Kenya

evanson-njeru_croppedEvanson Njeru is a community social worker and human rights activist who grew up on the slopes of Mount Kenya. Although he struggled a lot as a village boy who didn’t have many opportunities, he eventually attained a college education. Evanson is now the founder of Compassion CB – an organisation that advocates for the right of women and girls in Kenya through education and sustainable development, as well as anti-female genital mutilation campaigns in villages and schools. When talking about how fathers and how other male role models can help the younger generation step up to prevent VAW, he had this to say: Fathers and other male role models must take up the challenge of being men fighting for the rights of women. Men could help come up with policies that promote rights for women and girls. Young men and boys should be educated and made to understand that violence against women is a violation of human rights. They should also be made to understand some cultural beliefs undermine women and violate their rights.

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #5: Inspirational Interview – Fraidy Reiss, United States of America

headshot Fraidy Reiss_croppedFraidy Reiss is a forced marriage survivor and the founder of Unchained At Last, a nonprofit organisation in the U.S. dedicated to helping women and girls leave or avoid arranged/forced marriages and rebuild their lives. Unchained provides free legal and social services and emotional support, while also raising awareness and pushing for relevant legislation. Fraidy says: “I wish I knew exactly how to end violence against women forever. I don’t, but I know that we move closer to that goal when we, women and men, are vigilant and outspoken – that is, when we identify and call attention to instances of institutionalised patriarchy and sexism. We must not overlook or accept; we must not become complacent.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #6: 30 For 30 Father’s Day Campaign Interview – John Nolan, Australia.

john-nolan_croppedJohn Nolan is the Founder and Director of DadsUNI, a Christian ministry assisting in the development of strong families in modern society with a focus on the role of young fathers. DadsUNI teaches the elements of Understanding, Nurturing and Imparting to assist young dads in this all-important role. ’52 Tips For Fathers’ is their most popular course and available for free on their website. When talking about ways to prevent VAW, he says: I personally believe that the change required in our society to stop violence against women must be addressed by using many different approaches, and without doubt positive male role models do play an important part. Learned behaviours are passed down from generation to generation – violent fathers create violent sons. It is a behavioural cycle of abuse and/or violence, and it is our job to look for ways to break that cycle.

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #7: Survivor Stories Interview – Leslie Ann Epperson, United States of America

leslie-epperson_croppedLeslie Ann Epperson is an Emmy Award winning cultural and natural history documentary filmmaker for PBS affiliates who endured sexism and misogyny in television and was in an abusive marriage for many years. Leslie is now dedicated to following her own path, and takes great joy in mentoring younger women artists and filmmakers. When talking about stopping VAW, she says: “Education is key. We must teach our children to respect all of life, human and otherwise, and learn to care for ourselves, each other, and our world in equal measure. It is a spiritual journey, and I think humanity is on the right path, even though it often seems too slow. Much has changed in my lifetime—and much remains to be transformed. We must teach children that love really is the answer, and that violence never works. Violence only begets more of the same.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #8: 30 For 30 Father’s Day Campaign Interview – Michael Cheang, Malaysia.

michael-cheang_croppedMichael is a journalist with a daily newspaper in Malaysia, specialising in entertainment and beverage news. He has a strong interest in all things pop culture, like Star Wars, Transformers, and he is trying to share these interests with his 2-year-old daughter. When speaking about ways to educate the younger generation to step up and prevent VAW, he says: A father has to take a stand against this sort of thing and be more proactive in educating his kids about violence against women, and that it is NOT okay to hit women (or even other men, for that matter). If the son should come across incidents like that and tell the father, the father should not brush it off as someone else’s problem, and should instead educate the son properly on why it is wrong.

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #9: 30 for 30 Father’s Day Campaign Interview – Mike Toma, Iraq

mike-toma_croppedMike is from Iraq and is a progressive, freethinking individual with open ideologies on political and governmental reforms. He has a BA in Business Administration and currently working towards a master’s in project management. He is also a science and astronomy enthusiast with an interest in the betterment of education, an advocate for free college education, social democratic reforms and science literacy among common people. When talking about how fathers and how other male role models can help the younger generation step up to prevent VAW, he says: If my child views me as someone who values her/his mother, they will understand that this is the way to treat others. If my son sees me respecting his mother, he will have that attitude towards other women. If my daughter sees how I treat her mother with care and respect, she will understand that she has the right to defend herself and not take any kind of verbal and/or physical abuse and not allow others to take advantage of her.

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #10: Survivor Stories Interview – Palesa Mompe, South Africa

palesa-mompei_croppedPalesa Mompe is a survivor of child rape and sexual abuse. Now an active member of CLIMB Against Sexual Abuse, she has retired from the corporate world and is actively involved in transforming young people to new thinking where they can explore a different view of themselves and their realities. She spends her time working as a facilitator and coach with NGOs that aim to promote health on a social and economic level. In her interview with The Pixel Project, she says: “I would like women to remember that no matter the circumstances of the abuse, we never ask nor do we deserve the violation and humiliation that comes with abuse. It is critical to find our voice because silence is a way of allowing the perpetrator to silence us. We give power to them and increase myths such as victim-blaming.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #11: Inspirational Interview – Rujuta Teredesai, India

rujuta-teredesai_croppedRujuta Teredesai Heron, co-founder of Equal Community Foundation, has been working in the development sector for around 10 years. She specialises in programme management, fundraising, and communications. Having studied English Literature and Print Journalism, she is a trained journalist. She joined the Equal Community Foundation because she has tremendous faith in the concept of engaging boys and men as a part of the solution. Rujuta says: “Men’s attitudes and behaviours towards women are the root cause of the problem of violence and discrimination against women and girls. If we are to solve this problem, then we must engage boys and men in the solution. Unfortunately, a majority of men do not have the opportunity to learn about equality and the role they play in it. We recognise that we need to provide boys and men with knowledge, skills, peer support and leadership/role models to prevent violence and discrimination against women.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #12: Inspirational Interview – Sahar Khan, India

sahar-khan_croppedSahar Khan is founder of the Stanford and Hyderabad-based tech platform Zariya that connects women who face VAW with help in a swift and safe manner. When talking to The Pixel Project about Zariya’s work at the intersection of anti-VAW activism and new technologies, she says: “Survivors do not have singular needs but a multitude of needs (legal, economic, medical etc.); hence there is a obligation for a coordination mechanism among providers on the ground. We aim to build the strong coordination mechanisms between the variety of services and expedite necessary knowledge and action between them to deliver the best outcome for survivors.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #13: Inspirational Interview – Sayydah Garrett, Canada and Kenya

sayydah-garrett_croppedBorn in Montreal, Canada, Sayydah Garrett is the Co-Founder & President of Pastoralist Child Foundation (PCF) which aims to end female genital mutilation (FGM) in Samburu County, Kenya. Together with PCF’s Co-Founder, Samuel Leadismo, Sayydah runs PCF’s anti-FGM programmes which is built on helping Samburu’s families and communities have a stake in ending FGM while helping girls get an education for a brighter future. Sayydah says: “The Samburu community now prefers education as the Alternative Rite of Passage to replace FGM. By educating both girls and boys there is a greater chance that we will succeed in eradicating FGM and child marriage. Workshop attendees learn the great benefits of not mutilating girls. Our workshops are wildly popular! The youth understand that when girls are healthy, educated, happy and enjoying life, things are better for everyone.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #14: Inspirational Interview – Tania Rashid, Bangladesh

Tania Rashid_croppedTania Rashid, a freelance correspondent, multimedia journalist working in print and photography, and the producer of the short documentary, “A Crime Unpunished: Bangladeshi Gang Rape”.  She has covered human interest stories for Vice News in Bangladesh on gang rape and the lives of sex workers. Most recently Rashid hosted a piece for Al Jazeera’s 101 East on child marriage. When talking to The Pixel Project about how the mainstream media can do better with reporting on VAW, Tania recommended the following: “The media needs to give voices to journalists of colour – female journalists of colour, because we have access to worlds and terrains that a parachute reporter probably would never get. The first step is for the media to recognise and give a chance to reporters who can bring these very deep stories to light in a respectful way, and with understanding of a particular culture, where it is not just anthropological or half-assed. That is what I do, and I think more women should have that opportunity.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #15: 30 For 30 Father’s Day Campaign Interview – Travis Greenley, Canada

travis-greenley_croppedA proud father to an 11 year old daughter, Travis joined Family Transition Place (FTP), which is the organisation in his community trying to promote gender equality and stop violence against women and girls. He helped start and volunteers for a men’s engagement committee (MENtors) and is also a Youth Educator with FTP. He travels to schools to promote, role model for and teach youth about healthy and unhealthy relationships and all its related topics (stereotypes, empathy, discrimination, self-esteem). Speaking about to educating the younger generation on ways to prevent VAW, he says: I believe that as a society we need to spend less time telling men and boys what not to do. Instead, we need to empower boys and men with what they can do to make a positive difference in our culture. We should encourage them to become educated on the issue of violence against women and gender inequality.

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #16: Inspirational Interview – Yasi Safinya-Davies, United States of America

dr-yasi-safinya-davies_croppedDr. Yasi Safinya-Davies has been serving survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault since 2009. She completed her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from Alliant International University, California School of Professional Psychology. Her professional focus is specific to issues concerning women, the impacts of trauma, and severe/chronic psychological conditions. In October 2015, she became the executive director of SAVE, a domestic violence nonprofit in Californa. When talking about how communities can mitigate the risks of VAW, she says: “As a community, we can mitigate these challenges by providing girls equal opportunities to education, by examining our permission of male dominance and aggression, by eliminating the purchasing of girls and women as commodities. We can keep score and publicise the equitable or inequitable practices toward women of corporations, education systems, politicians, and advertising agencies. We can make it safe to say, “I am a survivor.”  We can acknowledge that domestic violence affects all of us.”

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