The workshops for ISFiT 2017

WORKSHOP #1 Healthcare

Health and inequality

“Of all the forms of inequality injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Healthcare must be distributed fairly and equitably. However, discrimination often has an adverse impact on the healthcare environment and on those receiving health care services. Differential access to resources limits basic and preventive healthcare to members of some groups. This unequal distribution of healthcare resources results in morbidity and mortality rates that vary substantially among racial and ethnic groups, as well as economic classes. Nurses and other health care providers may be victims as well as perpetrators of racial discrimination.

  • Think about your home country: what groups do you think are most vulnerable to poor health care?
  • How does the privatization of healthcare and pharmaceuticals affect their provision?
  • How can we go about creating a system that looks after those who cannot pay for these services?



Nowhere to be scene: women missing from the big screen

The arts are a powerful outlet for expression and are not only shaped by culture, but shape culture. UN Women has reported “deep-seated discrimination and pervasive stereotyping of women and girls by the international film industry”.

On-screen women are typically underrepresented in positions of power and hypersexualised. Only about 22.5 per cent of the fictional workforce is comprised of women, and when they are employed, less than 15 per cent of them are portrayed as business executives, political figures, or science, technology, engineering, and/or math (STEM) employees. Off-screen, women are underrepresented in the film industry itself: out of 1,452 filmmakers, 20.5% were women, but just 7% were directors (see UN Women research).

  • How does the representation of women in films reflect the culture in which they are produced?
  • Why are so few women appearing in films?
  • How does this representation vary between cultures?
    • Take a moment and apply the Bechdel Test to a few popular films from your home country. Do they all pass?
  • What can this indicate about a culture?
  • What impact can this have on society?
  • How does this representation vary between art forms? (ie. film, music,literature)
  • How can we go about creating a less discriminating arts scene?
  • The UN has accused film-makers worldwide of perpetuating gender discrimination by failing to find strong roles for women. What responsibility does the arts have for representing discrimination? What about fighting it?


WORKSHOP #3 Law/Policy

Fight for your right to…

History books and today’s news coverage shows that governments can justify discrimination in the name of religion, ideology, security or a number of other reason. This becomes clear in laws restricting different groups´ rights. Women can be forced to follow strict dress codes, LGBT people might be jailed or worse for expressing the “wrong” type of love, minorities can be treated differently by the justice system due to systematic racism and people trying to exercise free speech might be censored.

Students have throughout the years been fronting the fight for individual’s rights. What can we do to ensure human rights are respected and discrimination eradicated? How can we make a difference and show solidarity as an international community in a world world full of powerful governments defending discriminatory laws and policies?


WORKSHOP #4 Sports

All are watching, few are represented

Nothing is quite as splitting or uniting as sports. Events like the Euros or the Olympics put nations and people on the front page of major news outlets. 111 million people watched Super Bowl 50 in 2016 and the FIFA world cup finale in 2014 reached 3.2 billion people. Some of the richest people are athletes and some of the richest corporations are sports clubs. Needless to say, the scope is giant. But not for everyone. The sports arena is mostly dominated by male athletes and men’s sports. The women’s world cup final in 2015 reach a new high of 750 million people. Which is nothing compared to the men’s final from the year before. The women also played on astroturf, something the men would never have to do. Some players, like Abby Wambach from the US, went to FIFA with their discontent. They wanted to expose FIFAs sexist attitude.  Sexisim in sports is not only visible in women’s football. The female runners Caster Semenya (South Africa, 2009) and  Duntee Chand (India, 2016) where both humiliated when they were accused of being men. They had to undergo gender test to “prove” that they were female. And black WNBA players were fined for wearing “black lives matter” shirts, however the men were not.

Why aren’t more people watching the women’s world cup? How come there are no openly gay players in the premier league? Why don’t we know who won the African Cup of Nations? And who can fix this problem?   


WORKSHOP #5 Family

Family and gender roles

Gender-based discrimination is prevalent in most societies. Even during their first years of life and within the family structure, some women are routinely discriminated against. A UN study finds that child mortality amongst girls aged 1-5 is statistically higher than boys in many developing countries. This is typically explained by discriminatory factors such as negligence of providence of food and health care for female babies in contrast to their male siblings. This cycle of discrimination follow many women throughout their lives; they are viewed as an economic predicament or mere servants of the household. In some societies sex-selective abortion and infanticide with girls on the losing end is also an issue. Furthermore, in countries where dowry is practiced, having a girl is often quite undesirable for poor families, and UNICEF reports that 5000 women are killed in dowry-related incidents in India every year.

Why? What can be done to counter discrimination against women within their own families? How can we assert women’s independence? Could you imagine a society where ‘househusbands’ was an actual phenomenon? Why are men and women often not expected to have equal responsibilities for housework and childcare within the household?


WORKSHOP #6: Religion

Religious liberty – a free pass to discriminate?

Freedom of religion or freedom of belief is a fundamental human right. Religious communities have been persecuted, deprived of fundamental human rights and some have even been subjected to genocide. There are plenty of examples of discrimination towards religious groups; from the nazis labeling jews with the Star of David, to airport security unjustifiably profiling muslims in modern time. However, religion and faith has also been used to justify such atrocities towards other religious communities or groups in our society.

What are the consequences when people use their religious convictions to routinely discriminate other people? What are the consequences when religious leaders or entire religious communities use their influence to do this? Can you justify all your actions and opinions through your religion? How can one argue against someone’s religious beliefs without being offencive? Is religiously justified discrimination rooted in religion or culture? Is there even a distinction between the two?


WORKSHOP #7: Media

Stereotypes, misrepresenting and underrepresenting

Media is something we surround ourselves with at all times, through ie. TV, radio, our smartphones and social media. Media is widely criticized for misrepresenting and underrepresenting everything and everyone, such as women passed the age of fifty, indigenous people, gender roles, different ethnicities and disabled people. For instance The DREDF writes that “More in-depth and thoughtful attention to disability is needed. The media is a potent force in countering stigma and misinformation and can be a powerful ally in changing perceptions, eliminating discrimination, and raising public awareness”.

  • Do we see any progress in modern media? Are we there yet?
  • How does media generate gender stereotypes? Why do women more often receive attention for their appearances, while men are evaluated from their achievements? Could these one-sided representations of gender be damaging? Will we ever have media that base their stories on a neutral gender view?
  • Do your social media accounts provide an adequate and truthful picture of who you are? Should employers be prohibited from reviewing your Facebook profile in their hiring practices? Can social media function as an uncensored platform for discrimination?


WORKSHOP #8 History

History is a set of lies agreed upon

When we tell a story, we construct it carefully, choosing which parts of our story to include and which parts to forget. Sometimes we even make things up entirely. History is much the same: it is a story told by those in power. In the pursuit of national identity, history is often treated as fact. But there are numerous examples of different narratives arising from the same events: the Armenian Genocide, Vietnam War, Russia/Ukraine, Israeli-Palestinian conflict etc. Fact is disputed by multiple narratives.

  • If we have multiple narratives, how can we decide what is true? Or should we reach a compromise?
  • This fictionalization of history often leads to discrimination of certain groups. Whose stories go untold? Whose stories have been changed? What is the purpose of changing these stories or keeping them quiet?
  • If we begin to doubt our own history, what value should we place on the past? Should we base our decisions on the past? What role should our history play in our future?


WORKSHOP #9 Employment

Getting a job and losing a job

An education that will qualify you for a job in a country – may have not have the same value in another country. Even though degrees and educational systems varies from country to country, should it have no value at all? It seems like many governments are not favoring immigrants, who have used big parts of their lives on their education.

Quite often it is the employers, not the governments, that set the criteria for what makes you qualified for a job. Factors such as your name, socioeconomic background, family history or your own mental history might play a role in whether you get a job or not. The Telegraph writes that a survey done by Crossland Employment Solicitors even suggest that almost half of british employers are less likely to hire a prospective employee at interview stage if they are obese. Big layoffs in workplaces and age discrimination also often go hand in hand.

There are policies, such as quotation systems, that try to diminish such unfair treatments in the workplace. In some regions in India, for example, they have reserved jobs for Dalits – formerly referred to by the very stigmatizing name ‘the untouchables’. However, such systems have existed since the 1950s and are still needed.

  • Highly educated people are forced to take on jobs they are overqualified for. How can we justify this? Can this hurt integration of new citizens in countries? Why? How is employment a big part of integration?
  • Are governmental policies and quotas just not working? Or is this about more deep-seated prejudices,that can’t be solved with guidelines from governments and politicians? What are your thoughts on quotas? Are there other ways to avoid discrimination in the workplace and hiring practices?


WORKSHOP #10 Education

Emancipation through education?

Today, about 263 million children don’t have access to basic education. UNESCO states that “Education is a fundamental human right and essential for the exercise of all other human rights. It promotes individual freedom and empowerment and yields important developmental benefits”. The UN’s Convention against Discrimination in Education(1960) prohibits discrimination in education “..based on race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, economic condition or birth”. What would the world look like if everyone had equal opportunities to receive education? Is quotation systems a good way to go about changing educational inequalities? Do you think education can contribute to eradicate discrimination of all forms?


WORKSHOP #11 Science

Harder, better, faster, stronger

Science is giving us more opportunities to understand and control nature. In the 1997 film Gattaca, a character’s fate is determined by their DNA.

  • Is this fair? What implications could this have for a society?
  • Should parents be given the possibility to alter their child’s genes? Should they be able to select their eye color? Should they be allowed to select their temperament? Should they be allowed to select a champion athlete? Should they be able to choose a girl instead of a boy?
  • Should a society be allowed to select children based on what population they need? ie. more people for military purposes, less people for academic research.
  • What will our society look like in 2050? How can advances in technology impact discrimination? Can we improve the human race through genetic discrimination?


WORKSHOP #12 Politics and governance

When leaders preach hatred

Throughout history and across the world, politics have been used as a ruthless tool to discriminate groups of people. Be it based on the color of their skin, their faith, their gender their ethnicity or their sexuality. The US presidential election can be used as an example. One can say that Trump discriminates his way to presidency. Trump is accused for being sexist, racist and using quite excluding and straight up discriminatory slogans throughout his campaign, eg. “We’re gonna build a wall and make Mexico pay for it!”. Sadly, Trump isn’t the only politician making such statements. How dangerous can rhetorics be? Who are the people affected by discriminatory policies? Where can we see discrimination in politics today? What do politicians gain from using such rhetorics?

WORKSHOP #13 Photography

Photography and activism

The strength of an image lies in the ability to convey a message. Digital platforms are expanding the field of storytelling. How can we use photography and art as a tool to promote equality? How would you use a camera and social media to tell your story? On the other hand – how can photo and art be used to further discriminate already marginalized groups?


WORKSHOP #14 Children’s rights

Children’s citizenship

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that all children should enjoy the right to participate in decisions that affect them. Yet, legal voting ages varies from 16-21 years around the world. In many societies, people below this age are in effect non-citizens without the right to vote and have little influence on decisions that affect them. Programs in school and various other institutions in the society are routinely made by adults without children and students. Children arguably have less social power and less decision-making power than adults.

What rights do children have? How can we ensure that those rights are protected? Why can’t children have a bigger participating role in governance? Is there a platform for children and youth to voice their opinions on issues that affect them in your community?


WORKSHOP #15 Global Economic Development

Survival of the richest

The first Millennium Development Goal set by the 189 Member States of the UN was the reduction of extreme poverty and hunger. Specifically the target was to reduce the extreme poverty rate in half by 2015, a goal that was met 5 years ahead of schedule. The new goal is to end poverty in all its forms by 2030.

Even though people are being lifted out of poverty at an astonishing rate, a number of economists suggests that there exists an economic discrimination that goes far beyond the bounds of individuals or businesses. The largest forms of economic discrimination affect entire nations and regions.

Manifestations of global economic discrimination include:

  •       Unfavorable terms for monetary support from world banking institutions
  •       Coercive diplomacy to supplant local, regional or national leaders in favor of those who will act as demanded by foreign investors
  •       Increased prices for supplying basic medical supplies to nations based on ethnic or religious basis
  •       Refusal of trade agreements
  •       Restrictive trade agreements

Is the developed still exploiting poorer nations, and why is this happening seemingly without resistance from the rest of the international community? What can be done to end economic discrimination? What would a fair international market look like?


WORKSHOP#16 Refugee Crisis and Immigration

Building Walls or Bridges?

As part of BBC’s World on the Move Day UNHCR special envoy Ms. Angelina Jolie Pitt warned that more than 60 million people – one in 122 – were displaced globally – more than at any time in the past 70 years. Highlighting Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Ethiopia, and Jordan, she said: “We in the West are neither at the centre of the refugee crisis, nor – for the most part – the ones making the greatest sacrifice.” She warned that amid a “fear of uncontrolled migration” there was a “risk of a race to the bottom, with countries competing to be the toughest, in the hope of protecting themselves whatever the cost or challenge to their neighbours, and despite their international responsibilities”. Isolationism was not the answer, she said, adding: “If your neighbour’s house is on fire you are not safe if you lock your doors. Strength lies in being unafraid”.

What can be done to help already struggling refugees and immigrants in a world where nation states are isolating themselves and nationalism is on the rise?

9. August 2016
4. October 2016