About this website

This website is the online space for Tactical Tech's project, "Visualising Women's Rights in the Arab World"(VWR), an initiative to strengthen the use of visual techniques - like information design, mapping, animation and illustration - by women's rights advocates in the Arab world, and to build a network of women with these skills.This project commenced with a workshop with 45 women's rights activists from Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Egypt held in Jordan, 5-8 December 2010.


The blog forms a backdrop to the project. We use it to write about the progress of the project and document the workshop we held in Jordan, 5-8 December, the participants who were there and the campaigns which emerged from it.

We also showcase visual advocacy campaigns which have effectively (or not so effectively) employed visualisation techniques to express social and political issues and push for change. We blog on four distinct areas of visualisation; finding out what is already out there, while also inspiring discussion and creating a foundation for future innovation and creativity. The four categories of focus are:

  1. The visualisation of women's rights and the representation of women in the Arab World 
  2. Arab World visualisations of social and political issues 
  3. The visualisation of conflict in the Arab World 
  4. The visualisation of women's rights worldwide 

If you have any examples to share, please email us on visualrights@tacticaltech.org or tweet @visualrights and we'll try to include them in this collection.

Tactical Tech worked with Lebanese illustrator and designer, Maya Zankoul, on the website design and project identity.


The workshop was structured around morning plenary sessions for the whole group while the afternoons were devoted to small group sessions in three tracks: imaging and animation, information design, and mapping. Participants were placed in these tracks according to what they had selected at the point of their application and according to what was most appropriate for their campaign idea. Participants stayed in their assigned track for the duration of the workshop and worked in groups to produce a presentation for the show-and-tell session on the last day. 


1. Information Design: Information design is a rapidly growing field that is concerned with gathering, filtering and representing data and information, of varying complexities, with clarity and impact. As an alternative to extensive, jargon-laden reports, information design allows activists to craft powerful messages using visual graphics. It draws from a range of disciplines including typography and graphic design, as well as the effective use and collation of data about issues. In this track participants will learn how to use data to create infographics and visualizations. To learn more, see Tactical Tech's guide to Visualizing Information for Advocacy.  

2. Geographical Mapping: Maps can serve as a powerful witness of people and issues that are strategically ignored or left out of the public eye. Maps can act as trackers of incidents by collating data about them. New and interactive technologies like the internet, Google Earth and other mapping software and GPS make it possible for activists to use mapping techniques to represent such data strategically: text, video, photographs, location data, all of which can also be sent by mobile phones to online maps. In this track participants will learn how to design and use mapping techniques and tools in their campaigns. To learn more, see Tactical Tech's guide to Maps for Advocacy  

3. Imaging and animation: Images represented through photography, illustrations, and animations, can be powerful forms for conveying messages. These can be light-hearted and creative, emotive, challenging or hard-hitting. They can also allow you to address issues related to the representation of women, to challenge cultural stereotypes or allow you to tackle difficult issues using metaphors and fictional characters. This track covers a wide area of techniques from illustration such as that used in Marjane Satrapi's popular recent graphic novels, Persepolis, to animated shorts about particular issues, like those created by the 'Be That Woman' campaign. Photography as a technique to represent women who are absent or misrepresented and image manipulation techniques to create images that strengthen your campaign will also be covered. In this track participants will be exposed to techniques for imaging and visual story-telling through images, comics and graphic narratives and learn how to plan, storyboard and direct such a production.

For links to background reading on each of these three themes, see the Resources page.


 Helping Tactical Tech with the facilitation of the workshop was a great team of regional and international trainers and facilitators who led the three skills-building tracks.

Over the three day workshop, participants will converge at daily plenary sessions. Then, participants will break out into one of the three tracks which will be organised as hands-on skill development learning labs led by experienced facilitators and trainers. Applicants to the workshop will have to indicate which of these tracks they would like to join based on their own interests and the type of campaign they will be developing.

Imaging and Animation

Tessa Lewin
Tessa is a Southern African researcher, trainer, artist and animator, based in the UK. She is particularly interested in the intersect between art and social science, and in cross-disciplinary work that tries to engage with issues of social justice. Tessa has worked in Zimbabwe, Uganda, South Africa, the UK, Egypt, Ghana, Brazil and Bangladesh on projects that combine art, research and advocacy. She previously ran the Digital Arts programme at Lighthouse in Brighton, and is currently managing the communications for the Pathways of Women's Empowerment Research Consortium at the Institute of Development Studies.

Sarah Rifaat
Sarah Rifaat is an Egyptian graphic designer, photographer and environmental activist, currently working for a design company called Design Frame. She has worked as a volunteer for local NGOs in Cairo including the international environmental NGO, 350.org and facilitated a number of hands-on environmental activities as part of the World Environmental Day celebrations in Cairo. She is also an avid cyclist and a member of the Cairo Cyclists' Club, a group, started on Facebook, whose members meet every Friday to cycle around Cairo.

Information Design

Stephanie Hankey
Stephanie is the co-founder and the executive director of Tactical Tech. She has been working to strengthen the use of technology by civil society in the global South since 1998, initially working with the Open Society Institute establishing their Technology Support for Civil Society Program, before co-founding Tactical Tech in 2003. Stephanie has a background in information design, was editor-in-chief of Pulp and worked as a creative director and producer for a number of London-based multimedia companies. She has a Masters in Information and Interaction Design from the Royal College of Art London, and a certificate in Campaigning and Lobbying from NCVO.

Marek Tuszynski
Marek is the co-founder and the director of programmes at Tactical Tech. He has been working to help advocates use technology since 1993. In the mid-nineties he co-founded the International Network of Contemporary Art Centres and worked with others to create a television programme about independent culture in Poland. He was director of the Stefan Batory Foundation’s Internet programme (Warsaw), sat on the board of Klon/Jawor (a research and infrastructure NGO) and The Second Hand Bank. Marek worked as a consultant to many funding agencies focusing on information and communication strategies for civil society in Central Asia


 Abdelrahman Hassan
Abdelrahman Hassan is an information freedom activist, blogger, and techie from Cairo, Egypt. He currently works as a systems engineer for an opensource-based IT solutions company. A hobbyist cartographer and data democracy enthusiast, he is a major contributor and advocate of the Openstreetmap.org project in his area. Abdelrahman has worked on various human rights-related, map-centered information visualization projects. In his spare time, he enjoys throwing "mapping parties" and advocating the use of open, freely available mapping data and tools.

Sandra Sudhoff
A Landscape Architect/Landscape Planner by profession, Sandra was exposed to emergency mapping and thematic mapping in the developing world while writing her thesis on Natural Resource Management for the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) in Mozambique. It sparked her interest and she subsequently pursued a MA in GIS and Remote Sensing. She has worked for both private (3D Lidar mapping) and public/humanitarian sector (GTZ, UNHCR) and since 2007, has been with CartONG, a French NGO specialised in Mapping and Information Management. The Mapping track will also be supported by Ramsey.


At the end of the three days, each of the tracks presented to the rest of the group what they had been working on over the course of the workshop. While some people had chosen to work on their own organisation's campaign or a new idea they hoped to develop when they returned, others had got into smaller groups and created a product in order to learn the process involved in implementing info-design, mapping or animation in a campaign.

From the Animation Track 

Short animations created by two groups from the animation track:


From the Info-Design Track

Razan Rashidi's idea for a campaign to empower young girls to reclaim public spaces in Damascus which are usually dominated by men. Inspired by the example of the Blank Noise campaign, Razan aims to get women to photograph their favourite public spaces in Damascus which they do not feel comfortable in because of their sex.

From the Mapping Track 

On the second day of the event the participants on the mapping track got to do a hands-on exercise in GPS and mobile-phone mapping around a mock scenario of collecting data on domestic violence within an area. Using Android phones, with OSM Tracker installed on them, participants were shown how to take points and switch the GPS interface. Some participants from other tracks who wanted to learn a little about mapping were designated with collecting household level information in an electronic form on the smart phone. Their tasks were to carry out interviews and collect data on infrastructure: hospital, police station, school, legal counsel and integrate the pictures and embed the data into the map of the area. 

About the project

Information design, geographical mapping, 'culture-jamming' and illustration and animations are all powerful vehicles for rights advocates to package and communicate their information. Visualising Women's Rights in the Arab World, is a project led by Tactical Tech to strengthen the use of such visual techniques amongst women's rights activists and build a network of women with these skills in the region.

This project focuses on women's rights advocates working on issues of violence against women, the impact and role of women in political and violent conflict and women's participation and leadership in public life. More specific regional topics will include; honour crimes, rights of the girl child, migrant workers, citizenship and family law.

The project has three components:

This project is funded by the Open Society Institute's (OSI) International Women's Program and local logistical support for the workshop is provided by AED Jordan.

What do we mean by visualising rights?

NGOs and rights advocates too often find that the information they want to communicate is buried in long reports full of professional jargon and statistics, overlooked in an endless stream of media releases or over-simplified in advertising-style campaigns. The challenge they face is how to give the right people the right information in the best possible way.

Whether talking to the public, staff, donors or government officials, visual techniques such as mapping, information design, illustration and animation are powerful ways to communicate campaign messages and support advocacy.

In short visual techniques for advocacy can:

Read more about visualising information for advocacy, with good examples, here.

Why Visualising Women's Rights?

We believe that visual forms of advocacy can have a significant role to play in furthering women's rights.

Around the world, women's movements are demanding the right to be recognised as equal citizens with unique needs and experiences. The central themes of these movements are to challenge the silence around, and authority of, social, cultural, legal and political norms and values that keep women in a state of inequality. For example, domestic violence occurs because a man's right to control his partner and family are virtually sanctioned by the social construction of family and marriage. Honour killings are conducted because there is no challenge to social norms that equate an arbitrary notion of collective honour with a woman's character. 'Culture' is often cited as a reason for women's second place in society. However, a closer look reveals that even 'culture' is appropriated and reformulated by those in power, to serve their own ends. Silence, compounded by misinformation, maintains the status quo.

We believe that visual forms of advocacy may be one of the ways to challenge these given ideas.

The example of Blank Noise
It is commonly believed that 'only women who don't cover their heads' or 'only women who go out late at night' are harassed on the streets; Blank Noise in India decided to challenge this notion, using hard evidence to show that any woman, irrespective of what she wears and when she goes out, can be a victim of harassment. Using mobile phones and a blog, Blank Noise urged women who faced street harassment to take photographs of their harassers and post them online. Women could also list or send in photographs of what they were wearing at the time. Going over the data collected by Blank Noise, it appears that there is no standard stereotype of either a harasser or a victim, how they're dressed, or what time harassment occurs.

The collection of data like Blank Noise's can become the basis for evidence-based advocacy. And information – be it statistics, personal stories, video clips, text messages, photographs – becomes something to leverage public opinion, social attitudes, and even law and policy.

Read/download the press release here (28 September 2010)

The Venue

The "Visualising Women's Rights in the Arab World" workshop was held at the beautiful and serene retreat space, Feynan EcoLodge over three nights and four days, 5 - 8 December 2010. Feynan is located in Wadi Finan in a remote part of the Jordanian desert. And, as our participants soon found out, a 2.5 hour bus/car ride and another 30 minute jolty truck ride across the desert terrain, from Amman. Our workshop group took over the entire space of the lodge for the time we were there. In line with the style of all Tactical Tech's events, which encourage meeting new people and making connections, participants shared rooms at Feynan.  

Feynan is an eco-friendly, sustainably-designed-and-run retreat. It is run by the local Bedouin community from the area and all the food served there is locally sourced, organic and vegetarian. It is entirely solar-powered, does not use electricity and is lit by candles at night which made our evenings there wonderfully atmospheric and relaxing. There were no emails to be answered (no internet signal there!) and no distractions like television but plenty of stargazing atop the lodge's rooftop terrace. 

Our days at Feynan were packed, rising for breakfast at 7:30 and working through to dinner at 18:00, but still some participants were able to break away and enjoy some of the activities which Feynan has to offer. Besides the stars and refreshing home-brewed Bedouin tea, some participants enjoyed camel rides and hiking including the few individuals who got up early to greet the day with a sunrise hike. 

The event would not have gone as smoothly as it did were it not for the friendly and efficient team who run Feynan. We are very grateful for all their hard work.

Images: (1) The lodge, photo by Lana Al-Salem. (2) Camel Ride, photo by Safia Darwiche. 

The Workshop

Conceptualised and organised by Tactical Tech and hosted at the community-run Feynan EcoLodge in a remote location in the Jordanian desert, the Visualising Women's Rights workshop brought together 44 activists working on a variety of women's rights issues in the Arab region for a 3-day adventure of skill-share and learning around the subject of visual advocacy. Here, participants were able to escape their inboxes and everyday commitments, and enter a space designed to inspire creative thinking and problem-solving around campaigning. They explored how information and data can be visualised, through images, animation, info-graphics, and maps to communicate their issues clearly and impact their target audience. They gained an exposure to and support in using visualisations in their advocacy and campaigns.


Tactical Tech had over 100 applications to attend this event, of which 44 were selected. To qualify, applicants had to be working on women's rights issues in the Arab world, with a proven dedication to this work, be using basic digital technologies in their work and have an idea for a campaign which they hoped to develop using visual advocacy tactics. The workshop was held in English, with limited Arabic translation support so participants had to be comfortable with English in order to qualify, too. The selection process was done by Tactical Tech and a 3-person group of external advisors with knowledge and experience of women's rights in the region. The workshop participants are working on various women's rights issues including: women's empowerment, gender-based violence, family law, disability rights, women in conflict and rights of the girl child in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Jordan. The OSI Women's Program funded the participants from Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon, AED Civil Society Program funded 10 Jordanians and those from other countries sourced their own funding to cover their attendance.


Tactical Tech's workshops are typically informal, friendly spaces where intensive hands-on skill development is key. Participation, sharing, interactivity and creativity are hallmarks of our workshops, with an emphasis on learning-by-doing rather than a lecture-style of teaching. We have developed this style over seven years of experience running workshops, events and learning camps.

At the VWR workshop, to immediately signal that this would not be a typical “conference” experience, participants were handed their welcome packs and invited to create their own “deconstructed conference name-badge”. These were badges made by Jordanian designer, Hana Faouri, out of recycled goods which participants could customise with beads, glitter, glue, ribbon and other craft materials from the “creative table”, which remained a permanent fixture throughout the workshop. While at first some participants were hesitant to get involved, the badges were soon a hit and rated by many participants as one of their top activities.  

The days began with a “sunrise circle”, an open forum for the group to come together, prepare for the day, and for announcements to be made. This was followed by the morning “plenary sessions” designed to involve the entire group in discussion and learning around evidence-based campaigning. These covered finding, accessing and using data in campaign work and critical thinking about examples of visual campaigns and why they work. For example the “Visual Gallery” exercise got participants, in groups, to look at a selection of strong visual campaigns on a range of rights issues and analyse the components of strategy behind them.

The afternoons were devoted to small 'learning lab' group sessions in three tracks: imaging and animation, information design and mapping. The tracks were intensive hands-on practice sessions in the use of either geographical mapping, information design or imaging and animation techniques for campaigning. The facilitators for these tracks included: Tactical Tech's co-founders Stephanie Hankey and Marek Tuszynski leading Information Design, Southern African animator and social scientist, Tessa Lewin, and Egyptian art-activist, Sarah Rifaat, on imaging and animation, and mappers, Sandra Sudhoff from the German NGO, CartONG and, Abdelrahman, a blogger and techie from Egypt. Read more about the tracks and the facilitators here (link to tracks page).

We find that the evening activities at these events have an integral role to play in fostering a good group dynamic and allowing participants a chance to get to know each other and have discussions in their own time. The first night involved introductions and an ice-breaker game before everyone packed off to bed after a long day of travelling. On the second night, participants could mingle and set up a “stall” at the “bazaar” in the outdoor Bedouin tent to present their campaign ideas to each other. The last night was spent doing a sunset hike and watching documentaries. The award-winning feature, Budrus, which highlights women’s role in the unarmed popular resistance movement in town by the same name in the Occupied Palestinian Territories was screened along with The Kingdom of Women produced by a Lebanese filmmaker, Dahna Abourahme, and Tactical Tech's 10 tactics for turning information into action. If participants did not take part in these activities, they organised themselves with singing, live music and light photography. 

At the end of the three days, participants presented what they had been working on in their tracks at the Show and Tell. Read more about this on the tracks page

Photos by Samah Arafat.

See all the photos from the workshop on our Flickr page.



Download the application form (word document)

We welcome participants working on women's rights issues from across the Arab world.

The event focuses on women's rights advocates working on issues of violence against women, the impact and role of women in political and violent conflict and women's participation and leadership in public life. More specific regional topics will include; honour crimes, rights of the girl child, migrant workers, citizenship and family law.

We also welcome those working with women's right advocates who are communications specialists, designers, artists, illustrators, or technologists working with mapping techniques or data. However, these applicants will have to demonstrate their commitment and experience working with women's rights issues.

We only currently have scholarships available for those working on issues related to women's rights in Palestine, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon. (see information on scholarships)


If you want to take part in this project, you should be:

  • Working on women's rights, particularly addressing violence against women, the impact of political conflict on women, and supporting women's participation in public and community life and have a track record of working on these issues. OR, be organisations working on design, filmmaking, animation, information design and visualisation with a demonstrated commitment and sensitivity to these issues. We are keen to include those who can share these skills and techniques with rights advocates and are committed to such projects going forward.
  • Working on issues of women in the Arab World. We have specific scholarships for participants from Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. So, for example, an organisation in Jordan campaigning for the rights of women in Gaza, or supporting refugees from Iraq would be eligible to apply for a scholarship. Priority will be given to applicants situated in the Arab world. If you are working in another country in the Arab world or regionally and would like to attend, we welcome you to apply for the event, but you will have to cover your own costs. (See more information about this below)
  • Committed to using visual advocacy tools and information-activism in their existing and new campaigns.
  • Willing to support at least one individual from their organisation to attend the workshop, and then have them become the focal person for the process over the six month period.
  • Willing to work with other women's rights organisations in the region, or in their own countries, to develop campaigns, depending on how many groups are selected across the region, and based on the similarity of campaign ideas.
  • Have an existing campaign to work on further between December 2010-and mid 2011 and a clear commitment to enabling implementation of ideas generated/skills gained at the workshop
  • Capable of working with local groups/individuals who will provide support in web hosting, design, graphics and multimedia, depending on what the campaign requires.

As organisations prepare their applications, they also need to identify one member of staff who will represent them and become the focal person for the process. This individual should:

  • Have a good working knowledge of English, although the workshop will be conducted in English with parts in Arabic. We are sorry that as this is a hands-on workshop and translation can not be provided.
  • Be comfortable using a PC or laptop, and be familiar with using the internet and popular media platforms like social networking sites (Facebook, Orkut, Twitter, etc), Google maps, YouTube, blogs etc. You don't need the technical skills to create content for these sites but we will expect you to have user level knowledge.
  • Attend the entire duration of the workshop in Jordan, and commit to taking the process forward within her organisation or projects. We can not accept any participants who can not stay for the entire duration of the workshop
  • Be involved in advocacy and campaign work in her organisation or as a committed individual.
  • Have at least two years' experience of working in any of the following areas: women's rights; addressing violence against women; women's participation and leadership.
  • Be at a programme manager or coordinator level with hands-on responsibilities and some decision-making in project implementation. This workshop will not be geared towards organisational directors, junior staff or interns. Those who lead advocacy work and are engaged in strategy, planning and implementation of initiatives should attend.
  • Look forward to dedicating themselves to the project and engaging in a fun and challenging experience!

We are also looking forward to receiving applications from independent digital activists, graphic designers, animators and filmmakers from the region who must have some NGO or campaigning experience and are committed to supporting NGOs to develop their campaigns.

We only have funding for people working in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq. If you are from/working in another country in the arab region and are able to cover your own costs (with a grant, training money or similar), you are welcome to apply.  


 1. Please fill in the application form where you'll have to share personal and organisational details, and your ideas for a campaign your organisation would like to work on

2. Get your organisation's director to sign off on your application to verify that both you and the organisation are interested in being a part of the project

3. Email your completed applications to visualrights@tacticaltech.org. 

Application forms only filled out in part will not be considered. This is a competitive process. Tactical Tech and their partners will be looking to choose applicants who have a demonstrable commitment to the issues identified in the project outline and the proven ability to implement what they learn at the event within a campaign in the following six month period.

Please note the deadline for submitting appications is the 14th October 2010


There are 35-40 places available for the workshop. 

The applications will be pooled and reviewed by an independent advisory group. The selection committee will consist of Tactical Tech staff, trainers and members of the advisory group.

Selected participants will be notified two weeks after their application deadline and will be sent more information about how to prepare and plan for the workshop.

The workshop will begin December 5th and run until December 8th, 2010.


We currently have full scholarships available for those who are working on issues related to women's rights issues in Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. Preference will be given to those who are actually situated in the Arab world too. So, for example, an organisation in Jordan campaigning for the rights of women in Gaza, or supporting refugees from Iraq would be eligible to apply for a scholarship.

What the scholarship covers:    

  • return travel (by air, or overland) from the home country to Jordan
  • meals and three nights accommodation at the Feynan Eco Lodge
  • tuition for the workshop

If you don't qualify for a scholarship 

If you are working in another country in the Arab world or regionally and would like to attend, we welcome you to apply for the event but you will have to cover your own costs.This includes your travel and visa which you will need to arrange yourself and a participation fee of 400 USD to cover three nights accommodation, meals and drinks, transportation from Amman to Feynan and back again, and tuition. We have 15 places available for people in this position. 

We know that NGOs are used to having costs of events covered, and we have tried where possible to work with donors to make some scholarships available, however these are relatively limited.

Here are some suggestions for how you can cover your costs:

  • Do you have a training budget for your organisation that you can use? 
  • Can you include this event in your campaign budget? 
  • Can you work with one of your existing funders, or a new local funder to cover your costs of participation? 
  • Do you know a funder who may be interested in supporting a few women's organisations from the region to attend? can Tactical Tech help with this in any way?

Download the application form (word document)