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Stereotypes include fixed, immutable, and generalized features for members of particular groups. Rumors are an effective means of communicating stereotypes. Stereotypes and rumors lower the status and position of these groups in society and reduce the space for coexistence and positive interaction.

In the period May 2017 – October 2018, with the support of the OSCE Mission to Skopje, a campaign against the most common rumors for different target groups (victims of rumors) in Macedonia was conducted. The campaign aimed to sow doubt and cause thinking about the diversity of the general population, and to engage people at the level of emotions and feelings. It was not only aimed at rumors that were prevalent, but was intended to cause changes in the sources of stereotypes and rumors.

The key campaign infrastructure was composed of a network of 6 organizations from different municipalities in Macedonia (Prilep, Bitola, Kavadarci, Kumanovo and Skopje) to run the campaign at local level, as well as anti-rumor agents engaged with the population, to be the main communicators of the messages. The anti-rumor campaign itself was targeted at the general population as well as the specific groups within its frameworks.

The process of identifying and analyzing rumors involved identifying dominant rumors in society, what stimulates these rumors, how these rumors are justified, and the extent to which these rumors are aligned with reality (true). This is done by conducting a survey, a focus group and individual interviews in each of the municipalities. The main identified rumors in all municipalities concerned persons with disabilities, ethnic communities (Roma, Albanians), women in politics, young people.

Next was the identification of local partners (public institutions, local self-government bodies, civil society organizations and individuals) and building a campaign against rumors.

The campaign in the municipality of Prilep targeted the rumor that Roma are poor and beggars and they do not want to work and contribute to society. The values the campaign aimed to promote were: dignity, integration and social cohesion. The alternative narrative the campaign offers is: Roma are responsible to the society and community in which they live and can talk about the problems of the wider community.

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To convey this alternative narrative, 35 anti-rumor agents, Roma women who learned the techniques of public appearance and speaking, were taught how to talk about the problems of their community and that their voice is important. As a result of this training, and in order to massively transmit the message “We Are All the Voice of the Community”, promotional material was prepared – coaster.

The campaign ended with a public event – a friendly dinner where promotional material was presented to representatives of local public institutions, journalists and anti-rumors agents and the alternative narrative was discussed.