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.