yellow shape
Organisation & Quality News

Recap CoP knowledge session on Informed Consent

Together with our Community of Practice, we learn about Inclusive Communications. In this CoP, we investigate different topics to understand how to work better and communicate more inclusively. On June 4, we organised a knowledge session on informed consent.

13 June 2024

Our 12th meeting of the inclusive communication CoP consisted of a knowledge session on Inclusive Communication and Informed Consent. During the session, we focused on the questions regarding consent, especially with vulnerable participants. This leads to what goes beyond the consent form, and you have to consider barriers of language, culture, social relations, and ultimately power. Emiel Martens introduced the theme, and then we had two very enlightening guest speakers: Jennifer Huang and Annette Scarpitta.

Emiel Martens

First, Emiel Martens gives an introduction to the theme. Emiel has been an independent video maker and impact producer for 10 years. Emiel explains his work in the films Welcome to the Smiling Coast and Gifts from Babylon. The first is a documentary about West African tourism and migrations. It follows young Gambian men who work in the tourist industry. Gifts from Babylon is a fictional second film where you see the story of a Gambian return migrant. The movie is made by a Dutch and Gambian crew in co-creation. Emiel Martens explained that there is a scale of participation, from just giving consent to participation to co-creation. He also explained that these scales are important during every phase of production, not only when the people are being interviewed or in front of the camera but also during post-production and film screening.

Jennifer Huang

Our first guest speaker is Jennifer Huang, a documentary filmmaker in Oakland, California. In 2013, she founded Treeclimber Media, an independent nonprofit company dedicated to telling stories that foster empathy and change. She is currently directing and producing The Long Rescue, a longitudinal documentary film chronicling the lives of girls and young women in the Philippines who have survived human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Jennifer explains that the girls are not accustomed to saying no. Therefore, ¬†¬†Jennifer has a very elaborate consent process in which she gave the girls one month to consider if they wanted to join the production. After that, there were video workshops to familiarise the girls with filmmaking, the gear, and the crew. Third-party lawyers were hired for the girls to ensure they understood what they were up to and to handle matters in their best interest. This careful consideration of the girls’ well-being is a testament to the ethical considerations in Jennifer’s work. During production, the girls were consulted again every time if they wanted to continue. Jennifer also makes sure that the girls are not recognisable on screen. For the post-production, the girls will evaluate their footage. Jennifer and her team will organise for the girls to meet with other survivors who have already gone public so they will understand the impact on their lives. During and after the screening, the girls are supported in their leadership roles and receive weekly check-ins.

Annette Scarpitta

The second speaker is Annette Scarpitta, a senior advisor and coach for NGOs and individuals across the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, other African nations, and the United States since 2011. She has advocated for community development in rural central eastern DRC, implementing programmes in education, vocational training, community-based initiatives, and peace summits. Annette is dedicated to the importance of consent and respectful photography to enhance fundraising and marketing. She emphasises that you need to approach each community with a fresh eye and not make any assumptions. This also counts for the subcontractors who are doing the work. Therefore, co-creation is really important. She explained this with an example of a community-led project. The project started by asking if the community wanted to change or if they were happy with things as they were. The community wanted to change some things. Then, the local leader led the first meeting, and they elected a general development committee. This committee is now one of the strongest leadership groups in the community. With this concept, the change is truly locally led and sustainable. But for the fundraising and marketing for these projects, you still need copy and pictures. In Annette’s work, good pictures can really make a difference. But finding a good photographer requires some out-of-the-box thinking. Also, Annette does not want people to show in subservient positions; she wants the people to behave naturally and confidently.