Redressing Gendered Health Inequalities of Displaced Women and Girls

University of Southampton

Giving voice to displaced women and girls through participatory research

Giving voice to displaced women and girls through participatory research

ReGHID is a research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council of the United Kingdom (ESRC-UK), involving research institutions in the UK, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador and Honduras, which aims to better understand the lived experience of displaced women (aged 25-49) and adolescent girls (15-24) that migrate from Venezuela to Brazil and Colombia, from Central America to Mexico, and those that return to Central America in regards to their sexual and reproductive health (SRH) needs and rights. The project aims to identify what are the sexual and reproductive health needs of women and adolescent girls in displacement and how they can better realise those needs.

An innovative aspect of the project is that it co-produces participatory research with non-governmental and civil society organisations working with displaced women and adolescent girls to uncover their lived experiences in relation to sexual and reproductive health, and the barriers in the way of health rights.

Participatory methods will give female forced migrants a platform to express themselves, and their voices will impact the creation of material for further public awareness and training sessions with community and health authorities. For instance, we will produce immersive short video documentaries and engage displaced women as photographers, unravelling their own views and experience using photos taken by them and testimonials to be presented at exhibitions and in a photo book. The photovoice methodology in particular will give voice and agency to displaced women through their active participation as photographers. The photos will bring attention to everyday experiences of women in displacement in relation to their sexual and reproductive health needs and challenges. This has enormous potential benefits as it provides visual material that will inform advocacy and awareness campaigns for improving sexual and reproductive health responses and services supporting women in displacement.

Photovoice Coordination – ReGHID

Photovoice is an art-based research methodology in which participants reveal their realities through photography. The term photovoice encapsulates the central idea of this method – giving voice to individual or collective experience through photos.

In qualitative research, it is a tool that enables and empowers its participants, as they choose what to photograph and when. It allows researchers to access the participants’ perspective on the phenomenon under study, even that of the most vulnerable groups of the population, as it is accessible to all those who are able to take a photograph, regardless of whether they can read or write (Wang & Burris, 1997).

In the ReGHID Project (Redressing Gendered Health Inequalities of Displaced Women and Girls, in Portuguese – Fixing Gender Health Inequalities of Displaced Women and Girls in Contexts of Prolonged Crisis in Central and South America) the methodology is applied and developed in Manaus, AM coordinated by Bruna Curcio, who organizes and develops the methodology with groups of Venezuelan migrant women.

After some meetings with preparatory activities, such as conversation circles about SSR (Sexual and Reproductive Health), dynamics to think about photography as a language/narrative and a training workshop on digital photography for compact cameras, the participants receive cameras under which they will be responsible for a pre-agreed period of time, usually between 10 and 14 days. During this period, the participants are willing to register photographs that answer the question: What do I want decision-makers in public policies to know about the SRH challenges in the lives of migrant women?

For the next meeting, the women must choose 2 photos that will be presented to the group together with an explanation of what the photo represents. The group is encouraged to debate and share personal insights and experiences. This is called the ‘Focus Group’.

The data collected in the focus group along with the photographs displayed will compose a Photobook as one of the products resulting from this methodology. This photobook is distributed to Governments, Heads of State, Universities, Humanitarian Institutions, NGOs and to those who are most interested in clarifying and proposing solutions that alleviate the wide-ranging challenges.


Giving voice to displaced women