How great development discussions look like on facebook - Build Africa’s “Time Machine” video edition

There is always space for more snark, memes, satire or ironic commentary on development-related topics, so it is worth documenting a great teachable moment that happened on facebook yesterday; it basically confirms that if you maintain a great network, great insights are only a few connections away.
This example does not solve the issue of filter bubbles and is by no means a cure for everything that’s broken on the Internet right now, but it quickly became a great, positive example of learning and respectful sharing.

"Time Machine", posted in September 2015 by
Build Africa has received just over 2,000 views on YouTube so far, but it sparked interesting comments on women's empowerment projects by educational NGOs focusing on formal schooling:


It started with a simple question:
Friend 1:

Thoughts? Is it just me or does this video suggest that it is a girl's (sole) responsibility to get educated, not marry young, etc.; an undercurrent of victim blaming?
Tobias:
The video is clearly geared towards (Western) donor audiences, promoting a single cause and a single solution: 'If girls stay longer in school, they don't have to marry a bullying husband'. It's tricky that no male actor is included, other than the threatening husband-which suggests that women can and need to change social norms themselves...I wish Build Africa had talked more about cooperations with local businesses, banks, municipalities to ensure that women/girls with more schooling can take advantage of opportunities.
Friend 2:
I've always had issues with Build Africa's messaging. From where I sit, women have the same opportunities as boys do. It is the boys that need to learn to keep their hands off of them until THEY choose to want to start a family: this is not limited to husbands, but brothers, uncles, and fathers.
This doesn't absolve some girls from making poor choices nor should we expect that there won't be those that make poor choice despite the opportunities and support offered them.
Friend 3:
There is a tiny mention of the boys groups about woman's rights but yes, it is a lot of responsibility for change put on the members of the community least empowered to affect that change. It is also a gross oversimplification of issues. Girls don't go to school because of many reasons. And the oppression of girls goes far beyond the issue of literacy. lastly schooling and education are often conflated which is another mindset that keeps communities and especially women and girls trapped in the current reality.
Friend 4:
It has the same problems that I always felt the other.... er, very well known video about girls and their effect on the world has. Placing the burden on girls, putting an economic price on girls' utility to the world, and yes, a single focus on girls. As a friend recently noted, is it even clear whether keeping girls in school is the cause or the effect of all of those related gains? Are parents who are more likely to treat girls well also more likely to have the means and interest in keeping them in school? And yes to all the rest. What about boys? What about men? What about abusive teachers in those schools? But this is why I hate marketing ads full stop.
Friend 5:
I was going to raise a similar point that Friend 3 made. My discomfort first and foremost is in the theory that keeping girls in school is a silver bullet. It leads to other concerning assumptions that all seem grounded in the idea that will of an individual and opportunity provided by an outsider are all that is needed. As Friend 3 says, all the things that contribute to the status quo are set aside as education is given primacy.
Friend 4:
At the same time, I get really sad when I talk to young people who want to go to school so badly and can't. It represents everything that is "success" in many places - it means you get respect, that your parents value you, that you have enough money to go. It's a status symbol as well as has undeniable worthwhile gains/goals of things like literacy, socialization, friends, connections to a dream of doing something other than your parents did. Sometimes you even learn things like critical thinking and using your voice. So many girls/boys/youth really fight to stay in school, so I also see there is a huge value in it, but I still don't like that ad because of its tone.
Friend 6:
The video also professes a neoliberal view of women's worth, i.e. women should have "opportunity" to be earners, rather than the non-productive (and thus non-valued) work of raising a family. This is a problem for both genders, around the world. When the organization talks about upping the quality of education, I wonder if this level of analysis and questioning has ever entered in...
So...only a few hours later and we have a comprehensive discussion on fundraising campaigns and framing girls'/women's empowerment in international development! 

Actually, since this is a real-live discussion on the Internet right towards the end Friend 7 walked in and 'summarized' our earnest efforts...:
1) At great expense travel with a lot of gear to where the Bottom Billion live, and then ask them ridiculous hypothetical questions.
2) No matter what they say, use it to make whatever your original point was.
3) As a third party, no matter your perspective on what comes out of the above, discuss as earnestly as possible on social media.
Bonus points for using the word "neoliberal"
 

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