STATEMENT OF ETHICS
When working with vulnerable groups we keep in mind ethical consideration to keep our workshops participants safe and maintain a trustful relationship. Additionally, these ethical considerations mean that what we present to the public is an honest account of lived experiences. With so much manipulation and misinformation, especially in the visual field, maintaining a reputation as a trusted source is critical to femLENS.
Some of the most important ethical considerations we have identified over the years are:
We believe that informed consent is a sign of respect towards the participants and this is why we act with integrity and honesty towards them. Informed consent differs from implied consent because it requires that the person understand the implications of their participation, i.e. that their photographs may appear online in years to come or once published in a print publication, it is hard to control their existence. In our work we highlight the importance of transparent relationships between the facilitator and participants. This is to ensure our workshops accommodate individual requirements.
We seek informed consent to avoid the rise of ethical issues. In some settings, sensitivity to local cultural context requires that we need to provide opportunities for individuals to seek advice or permission from a third person, such as the head of a household or community. We work with local community centres and organisations to ensure that cultural norms are not violated.
Informed consent is interwoven with other ethical concerns like issues of power (the power of who gives consent is important). During our work, the participants have full power to decide how they will use the skills and how they will apply these skills to create their stories.
We are sensitive to the moral values, religion, customs, traditions and culture of the communities we work with. Workshops participants choose the topics they want to cover by themselves. By respecting their choices and supporting stories that are close to personal experiences we encourage the creation of original, unseen stories, rather than adding to visual noise by repeating stereotypes or chasing sensations.
We respect the integrity of our workshops participants and their families. While working with vulnerable women and girls we have to keep in mind their difficult social and/or economic situations. We achieve that by not pushing their boundaries and giving them a choice to what extent they decide to open up and how their stories will develop. All stories matter.
Safety and security:
We aim to build relationships of trust with the participants. Since our work happens in different settings, we take account of the requirements of the community within which we operate. We don’t push anyone to do stories they don’t feel comfortable or safe to do, nor publish photographs online which may become a problem for the participants later. We are flexible and responsive, and if an issue occurs in the future we look for solutions to keep everyone safe.
Misrepresentation of photos and events:
We only use stories created by our workshops participants to amplify their living experiences, without altering or adding new meanings, or changing the contexts of their stories.
Ethics help us reflect on the impact we have on others. For us, ethics are not just principles or guidelines but also practices which change and we evolve with them. Ethics are not static like pictures, they are fluid. This is why we aim to continuously ask ourselves about the impact we have on the world.
- Inclusion and diversity: We aim to provide access to education to women from communities with limited resources to diversify the media and arts. We work with women from all backgrounds in order to make available a multiplicity of visual voices in the media and arts and contribute to the visual archive of our time.
- Empowerment: We work to empower women through creation and the sharing of their stories about their lives which further contribute to the empowerment of their communities.
- Gender equality: We promote participation of women in leadership in society, community, and specifically media and arts.
- Amplify voices: We work to strengthen the voices of the communities through documentary photography by providing visual and technological education to women.
- Human rights: Our educational efforts aim to reach women in communities with limited resources to improve their access to education taking into account the significant social, cultural, economic and structural obstacles.
- Accountability: We are setting ourselves accountable to follow these codes of ethics.
- Be the leading photographic educational resource for women from communities with limited resources:
Practical and comprehensive photography workshops for beginners from different backgrounds.
- Contribute to the global work that is already being done to include women into photography and for people to start telling their own stories:
Promote women’s projects through publications and events.
- Engage with traditional media to diversify the content providers:
Work with media institutions to promote the work of the students.
- Encourage students to continue independent practice and share their knowledge and experience.
- Provide social media training and encourage further self-expression and engagement with the audience to inspire change.