deliberative dialogues

20Dec11

Our project in India is moving forward fully with the help of some amazing groups and organizations, so the facilitators will definitely be a part of the process. Originally, we weren’t sure whether we could afford the facilitators. We were going to simply present the research findings to the domestic workers and answer any of their questions, especially since most low-income participants in these kinds of surveys normally do not gain access to the results after they have been interviewed. But designing a deliberative dialogue is much more relevant and transformative than simply relaying information, however, it is also more expensive.

A deliberative dialogue is also much more difficult to quantify as there are no results you can easily measure afterwards. It is about creating a space for participatory learning and dialogue to challenge preconceptions, in this case, the preconceptions would be around gender, inter-class relationships and socio-economic exclusion. A possible topic could be how gender can constrict the economic choices and rights of domestic workers, where men and the community may contribute to this disempowerment, leading to the disempowerment of the community as a whole. Rather than telling the group exactly what they should do and imposing solutions from outside perspectives, the dialogues will be designed to empower the participants through exploring their beliefs and assumptions, and thinking about how personal and local issues connect to societal and global structures.

Some of the things we have consider are the risks for the women participating. Will there be any consequences for them if they speak out honestly? You have to remember there basically is no police where these women live. If the police do enter the picture, at best they offer no help, and at worst they can add to the abuse or victimization. So what happens after these women have spoken out and we all leave? One suggestion was to ask the women themselves beforehand about potential problems, as they would be the ones who would understand these risks the best.

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