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“Listen closely to the one who is near.” IWPR Conducted Training for Religious Women Leaders of Kyrgyzstan

IWPR is working on the comprehensive development of religious women leaders and finding new ways of unification as part of the “Stability in Central Asia through Open Dialogue” project.

На русском Кыргызча

We often assume that the training of religious leaders should be based on questions of religion. The IWPR office in Kyrgyzstan challenges the stereotypes. This time, instead of the alleged lectures on countering extremism in Bishkek, a practical training was held on promotion of the alternative narrative in social networks for women activists from various religious communities of the country.

How was it held?   

After kissing her five children and confused spouse, she headed towards the lessons. Despite employment and family obligations, the candidate for the title of a future blogger clearly saw her goal – to constantly evolve and go forward.

She was pleased to tell everyone how she received a theological education, studied Arabic and described her work environment. Suddenly, another member joined her. Smiling at each other, they continued the dialogue. At this point, representatives of the Bahá’í community met with the trainers and expressed cautious hope that the information obtained during the training would be useful to them.

There were 18 of such participants. Different in nature, age and occupation, they were able to unite, to discover new opportunities, to promote a positive narrative about religious issues and religious freedom.

What have you learned?

On the first day of the training, participants received recommendations on how to manage and promote a personal brand from practicing blogger Begayim Adzhikeeva, coordinator of the IWPR regional project on new media.

“It was very nice to work with a group of such inspiring hard-working women who are not afraid to ask questions and absorb new knowledge like a sponge,” the trainer shared her impressions.

Afterwards, the participants practiced their skills with Diana Nagay, IWPR in Central Asia PR specialist on social media profile management, and learned about the psychological and ethical sides of publicity. Main tools for creating an attractive profile on social networks were identified, where Instagram was taken as a basis.

At the end of the day, they shot their first videos for social networks, so that later, on the second day, they could carefully analyze the mistakes and nuances with Zhazgul Ibraimova, IWPR coordinator for Central Asia, producer and trainer on photo and video shooting. She told the participants about the stages of preparation for shooting and video editing applications.

Diana Nagay, PR specialist at IWPR Central Asia: “It is interesting that training without a familiar religious context gave them more reasons for consolidation. It was very impressive to observe the communication between the participants about the features of each religion. They used every free minute between assignments to learn more about each other.”

Aizhan Kazakbaeva, author and presenter of a TV program, told the participants how to overcome the fear of being in front of a camera, along with how to shoot effective and interesting videos. The speaker talked about the main mistakes that are made in front of the camera and shared her personal experience. She highly appreciated the first videos of the participants and gave her recommendations for their improvement.

At the session of Ilham Umarakhunov, coordinator of the Central Asian IWPR project “Stability in Central Asia through Open Dialogue,” the participants analyzed in detail the role of alternative narrative in preventing violent extremism. In addition, understanding of the main causes and factors of radicalization among the population have been formed.

What were the impressions?  

After the training, the head of the “Mutakallim” Progressive Association of Women, Zhamal Frontbek Kyzy, underlined that her entire team will use social networks to promote the right to religious freedom and women’s rights in religion through the “Sisters” media project and personal blogs.

“Thank you for the wonderful training! Everything was new and useful for me. I did not use social networks other than “WhatsApp”, and yesterday I created a page on Instagram. I realized that I have something to share with people,” responded to the training Irina Polishchuk, representative of the Russian Orthodox Church about the training.

“It was useful to study the theory and simultaneously carry out practical tasks. Immediately implement the knowledge and turn it into action. I liked the fact of inviting a practicing trainer – speaker and his recommendations,” said Malika Kurtanbaeva, a member of the Bahá’í community.

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