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The fourth meeting with the sub-granted projects of SouthMed WiA’s 1st call for proposals took place in Barcelona on 16, 17 and 18 April 2018. This three-day workshop responded to the objectives and training needs of the sub-granted projects and represented for them an outstanding opportunity for peer learning, training and sharing of experiences with different Catalan women and organisations of the audiovisual sector.

The event was mostly held at La Bonne, a cultural hub in the historical centre of Barcelona, a place of exchange and creation of feminist cultural, audiovisual and performing projects. During the event, the participants also visited different cultural and artistic associations in the city, working to connect the two shores of the Mediterranean and to enhance the role of art as a tool to support gender equal in the society. On the first day of the event, they visited Jiwar, a residency space that hosts and supports professionals and artists from all around the world, whose work is based on or inspired by the urban context. It was very interesting for the sub-grantees to meet the resident artists and discuss the common challenges of civil society organizations such as funding, credibility, partnerships, visibility.

During the second and third day of the event at La Bonne, various local professionals and associations of the audiovisual sector shared their knowledge and experience about how to use communication and social media to foster gender equality and social transformation. Sonia Herrera Sanchez – feminist researcher, blogger and PhD university professor on women’s representation in the media provided the participants with an opportunity to debate on how the image of women is conveyed and stereotyped on the screen, both in Europe and in the Arab countries, and on the role that media outlets play in shaping knowledge, criticism, reflection as well as social attitudes. The discussion also outlined how different European and Arab media are in treating women and gender sensitive subjects. Correspondingly, the language referred to this subject is also different; interestingly it appeared that a word like gender has no equivalent in Arabic, it is simply transliterated from Western languages.

Numerous other local experts were invited discussed subjects as (a) “The cinema as a space of cultural knowledge and educational activities”, (b) “Media and Social transformation explored with the example of HarassMap, Egypt and with an interactive workshop on how to adopt an effective communication strategy for social transformation. SouthMed WiA’s participants were involved in a series of practical exercises to analyse and further develop the communication inside and outside their organizations, in order to ensure better visibility for social development purposes. This experience was particularly stimulating because it involved both the sub-grantees and Interarts’ team in a very participative workshop and pushed them to analyse and re-think their communication strategy in order to better meet SouthMed WiA’s main objectives. Nuria Fernandez Garcia – university professor and PhD in Communication and Journalism – closed the event presenting her research’s findings concerning the treatment of political women in the media and how their image influences the society, especially people’s view regarding women’s roles in the political arena. The participants shared opinions and comments concerning the situation of political women’s representation in their different countries, with the support of a variety of images and video material. It was very interesting to see how similarly and at the same time differently women are represented in the media in Europe and in the Arab world, in line with the respective cultures and languages and how media perpetuate a culture of discrimination towards women.

This event was an excellent opportunity for the sub-grantees to get to know local organizations and activists working on the “other side” of the Mediterranean Sea or gender equality in the media. Furthermore, this exchange produced very interesting interactions of knowledge and experiences, and enabled the participants to share useful contacts to establish future networking opportunities. In general, this event was a successful chance for all the participants to reflect on the similar challenges that women face in the audiovisual sector both in Europe and in the Arab region, as well as to get useful tools on how to improve their communication to support inclusiveness and social equality.

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