Women from Central Asia have a story to tell, and increasingly, blogs are where they’re telling it.
In partnership with the International Debate Education Association and Vpershe, an online education platform, PCSC’s blogging school brought together 28 young women from Central Asia October 18-24 in Bishkek for an intensive blogging camp. There, budding bloggers learned how to exploit the platform in all its iterations—including classic text blogs, video blogs (vlogs) and Instagram stories.
Participants worked with mentors from Central Asia who are already successful female bloggers. Among the mentors was Eldana Satybaldieva, a popular vlogger from Kyrgyzstan whose sincere, humorous videos have skyrocketed her to fame in recent years. In her videos she advocates gender equality and deconstructs common social stereotypes, all with her trademark charm. She worked with participants to help them find their unique voice and craft their personal brand. Mentors also included journalists from Kloop, a local media organisation, who taught participants how to shoot and edit video blogs, and a representative of the 2Any1 blogging agency, who shared tips on how to promote blogs and vlogs on social media.
Participants had either just launched their blogs or were in the preparatory stages, and their interests and subjects of focus were varied, from ecology to mental illness and feminism in the Central Asian context. They all agreed the format afforded a unique opportunity for women to express themselves, something that is not always encouraged in their culturally conservative societies, especially when they voice controversial opinions on taboo topics.
“This was such a good start for me,” said one participant. “I’m so motivated now to keep up my blog and make it more professional.”
The blogging school was a follow up to the Fight Like A Girl anti-discrimination camp for young women interested in fighting sexism in their local communities hosted by PCSC and partners in Kyrgyzstan in May. This event had over 1,600 applicants, a clear sign of the high demand for training on gender issues in the region. Participants in the May event were particularly interested in learning about blogging as a way to confront sexism, and PCSC tailored October’s program accordingly.
“There are some especially awesome girls here,” said one blogging school participant. “I look at each of them and see that we are all unique and authentic, but at the same time we have one mission, one goal—to promote the interests of women.”