Day 12: Collaborative cooking | Recipes against VAW

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Have you heard the banging of pots and pans - not in kitchens, but in the neighborhood or marching down public streets? Pots and pans are a clamoring call against violence against women in so many countries, across continents and over time. Candle-lit marches. Whistle-carrying neighbors to alert to assault. Police training courses. Lobby. Group support. Gender sensitivity awareness for journalists. Laws. Films. Theater. SMS.

The range and creativity of local strategies and people working to raise awareness about VAW in its many expressions is inspiring – and has to be, given the magnitude of VAW and its implications for women's human rights, public health, societal well-being and power relations.

What is your local recipe for stopping VAW? What tactics do families, friends, organisations, citizen protection or government agencies use? There isn't ONE magic recipe, of course. There are many ways to make a tasty dish. The trick is in collaboration, learning from experienced cooks and being open to new flavors at the same time that you select from local ingredients.

Let's do some collaborative cooking of anti-VAW strategies using wikis, excellent tools for working in community.

Why wiki?

Wikis are websites that anyone (with access) can create or edit right on the spot, and all changes are immediately published on the web. No special technical or programming knowledge is needed. Made a mistake? No problem, you can just click on “edit” and fix it. Erased something by accident? Wikis save previous versions so you can always go back to an earlier page. Because of this, they are excellent collaboration tools.

Wikipedia is perhaps the most famous example of collaboration using a wiki. But organisations use wikis for all types of collaborative writing and strategising. For brainstorming across time zones, developing action plans and project proposals, or for collaborative conference note-taking. The final report no longer depends on one person compiling all information, editing it and sending it around. The report is built by all notetakers during the conference, so that by the end, the report has built itself

Wikis save time and share responsibility. The participant directory always has some error? It's up to the attendees themselves to enter and edit their correct, current contact information. Wikis are used for internal organisational document sharing, for community-building of frequently asked questions and solutions. They can be completely private for a defined community only, require login, or open for absolutely anyone to edit.

UN INSTRAW's Gender Training wiki in multiple languages, is an excellent example of how opening up an online space for collaborative resource-sharing makes for diverse and current information.

There are many free online wiki services, such as pbwiki or wetpaint, or free and open source software (FOSS) wiki systems that you can download and install on your own server, all with many more features than we've mentioned here.

Build a collaborative cookbook against VAW – share your recipe for local action

  • Go to the Take Back the Tech Cookbook wiki. If you haven't registered yet on Take Back the Tech, do so now – anyone can register, and access will automatically be granted with a message to your email.
  • Share the ingredients for putting an end to violence in your country. Who's taking action, what has been effective, what needs to be done? Share a tried and true recipe for combatting violence or dream of that perfect dish, with all the ingredients that you think are necessary to finally put an end to VAW. Use any language you prefer.

And most important of all, don't forget to enjoy dessert! Tell us what you will most savor about living in a world free of violence, once all our collective recipes have been stirred together:

I would walk freely in the streets of Cairo, without focusing on how every part of my body is moving/bouncing, without giving much thought to how a little breeze is changing how my clothes look like, without pretending that I'm listening to music though my MP3 battery died.

Explore wikis and see if this collaborative tool will help you in your activism to end violence.