VWR Participant Profile: Dima Alashram

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Dima attended the Visualising Women's Rights workshop in order to gain exposure to new techniques she might use in the creation of a communications strategy for her organisation in Jordan, Ruwwad, The Arab Foundation for Sustainable Development. She has been working as the Communication and Evaluation officer there for the last 3 months; having recently graduated with a postgrad degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Community Development. Ruwwad is a local NGO that empowers youth and promotes civic engagement to empower marginalised communities. They work on various women's rights issues including: financial empowerment, right to education and right to expression.

Dima was part of the mapping track which she says really thrived in, especially because her background in Management Information Systems helped her with the more technical aspects of the track. She developed many ideas for mapping projects while she was at the workshop. She says that most of the examples she has seen of maps being used for advocacy were what she referred to as “negative” examples showing problems such as sexual harassment, natural disasters, poverty and so forth. She is eager to create a mapping project that empowers and inspires women. “I'm now thinking of ways that we can create maps of neighbourhoods of active women who are creating home-based income generating projects and who are mobilising other women.” She describes a woman she knows through her work at Ruwwad, Ghadeer, who started her own recycling business in Amman and has been training other women to recycle in their homes and has now made enough money to offer a laptop as an incentive for the household which recycles the most. Dima says she would like to create a map of active women, identifying what they are doing and producing and where, in Jordan which she hopes would inspire other women to start their own projects.

For now, Dima is already planning to implement the skills she has gained in mapping in Ruwwad's "Campaign for a Cleaner Jabal Al-Natheef", conducted by a group of Ruwwad beneficiaries and youth volunteers under the Global Change Makers program. The campaign simply aims aims to get the residents of Jabal Al-Natheef throwing away their waste in trash cans instead of on the street. She wants to use Google Earth to create a layered map of this area and pinpoint where new trash cans are placed and track residents' responses to the cans and use of them through statistical data, video interviews and photographs.

A week after the workshop, Dima has already been considering another application for mapping. The Community Empowerment program at Ruwwad has established partnerships with multiple companies and nonprofits that conduct short videos and documentaries. Several women from Ruwwad's beneficiaries participated in those movies either by acting or producing. As a result, Um Muhammad, who acted in one of the movies, was invited to Spain to participate in a conference called "Letters Between Women" to discuss their movies and their roles in them. Dima would like to create maps that track the path of women like Um Muhammad and others who never left Amman, and show how such projects helped them travel and collaborate with other international women. Every point on the map would represent a woman with her picture, a brief story about her, and a trailer of the video that got her famous. Dima says she is now even thinking of pursuing an online diploma in GIS mapping.