Gawaahi.com is a completed, self-sustaining project of Gawaahi. It was cofounded by blogger, Sana Saleem and Gawaahi Executive Director and journalist, Naveen Naqvi.
Home page of Gawaahi.com
A micro grant of 5000 US Dollars from Take Back The Tech!, APC WNSP, PASHA and Bytes 4 All and further support from the German media house, Deutsche-Welle helped create the website. It went on to attract attention from all over the world, and continues to make waves in the international and national media.
Gawaahi.com’s Press page
ABUSE AND SURVIVAL
It all started with abuse. We wanted to chronicle stories of abuse and survival. As we published stories, some of which were in digital form, we received an increasing number of posts written by young women who had been abused in one way or the other at ages like 8, 11 and even 5. They felt that the platform gave them the courage to speak out not only to share, but to also, make others aware, and to strengthen those who may be enduring abuse as they read their words of reassurance. This is the ever-expanding Gawaahi circle.
One of the unique aspects of Gawaahi.com was its use of digital stories. This is an innovative mode of storytelling that can work well to preserve the anonymity of the narrator. The multimedia form also allows for more creativity with the storyteller using variation and inflection through audio.
You can make your story more compelling with photographs that enhance the imagery of your words, or with animation as in the example of Mehreen Kasana’s story below.
In some cases, music and sound effects can increase the impact of a story.
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS
Soon after we launched, we were flooded with entries, mostly blog posts, who wanted to be part of Gawaahi.com. At this time, in order to streamline our content, we began theme-based calls for submission. We did this through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and email. For International Women’s Day, we invited photographers to send in portraits of women, and found an amateur photographer, who had taken stunning pictures of Pakistani women from across the provinces. This photographer, FurSid, has now been published in Dawn, Herald and Demotix.
On YouTube, our videos carried a tagline encouraging viewers to become participants.
‘Resistance: Celebrating your voice’ became very popular within Pakistan. It became a platform for artists — old and new — to express themselves, bloggers to send in posts protesting against religious intolerance, photographers, videographers and activists to submit pictures and videos from rallies such as the one featured below.
It also became host to a series of videos that we produced titled ‘My Pakistan…’
In this series of videos, we conducted interviews asking some young Pakistanis what kind of country they envisaged for themselves, and what their dreams were. In this activity, we visited private schools, government girls’ schools and Karachi University.
The idea behind the exercise was to engage the young people we met in political thought, make them feel that their voices and words were important, and also, to gauge what ideals were being taught at academic institutions.
We found that government-run schoolgirls from the ages of 8 to 15 were rote-learning values that we normally associate with madrassas or Islamic schools for male students. However, as we talked to them, and asked different questions, including what troubles them at home, we discovered that they were no more than young girls with dreams of becoming pilots, teachers and doctors. They were worried about the unemployment of their fathers, the their mothers’ struggles to make ends meet, and the shortage of teachers in their schools.
We did this activity in collaboration with Mahenaz Mahmud of the NGO Teachers’ Resource Centre, Sabeen Mahmud of nonprofit PeaceNiche, Durriya Kazi of Karachi University, the District Commissioner of Baldia Town in Karachi, the International Schools Educational Olympiad, Rabia Garib of CIO Pakistan and Parveen Kassim of Karachi High School.
TIPS & TUTORIALS
Our commitment to Information and Communication Technologies and the digital media carries through not only from Gawaahi.com, but also as a tribute to the young, dynamic Pakistani Internet community. To nudge more Pakistanis toward blogging, micro-blogging, and speaking out, we set up a videolog of interviews, tutorials, guides that can be found here under the category, HowTo.
In our Tips & Tutorials section, we did DSLR camera instruction videos with filmmaker, Nofil Naqvi. We did these videos in the Urdu language in order to reach the widest audience possible.
We were fortunate enough to interview women like Tasneem Ahmer of the Uks Research Center, who has been working on the women-media relationship for decades, young Karachi-based female photojournalist (as far as we know, the only one in Pakistan), Nefer Sehgal, and some of the most prolific, including award-winning bloggers from all over the world. We translated the international bloggers into the Urdu language for accessibility.
We intend to continue compiling these videos, and invite you to keep submitting them.
Gawaahi.com still receives submissions of survival and resistance, which you will find now on this site.