Dolls and Dust

"Dolls and Dust" presents analyses and testimonies of women workers and activists in Sri Lanka, Thailand and South Korea on the impact of industrial restructuring, globalisation and "mal(e)-development" on their lives, communities and the environment.

"Dolls and Dust" provides a forum for women workers in these three sub-regions of Asia to communicate -- "bottom-up" -- in their own voices and in their own languages from the reality of their communities at the grassroots...

Under patriarchal socialization, girls play with dolls. Some grow out of it. Some become "dolls" themselves for others. Many women workers in Asia also have to make dolls for a living. Some, like the women workers in the Kader doll factory in Thailand, even have to die for it! When not so young, women workers becom e dispensable and disposable -- when employers want to cut costs or when politicians and the IMF want to "free" our economy. Many women workers all over Asia are being chained and trampled upon like dust. Many women worker leaders have been tortured and murdered -- returning to the earth and becoming dust themselves...

In Sri Lanka, the impoverisation of the rural sector under the WB/IMF's "Structural Adjustment Programme" has forced many young women to work in factories in the Free Trade Zones where they have to tolerate very exploitative work and living conditions. In Thailand, women workers are organising themselves for better "occupational health and safety" and resisting the "bitter medicine" that the IMF and the present Thai government have imposed upon them. With the internatio nalisation of labour and capital over the past decade in South Korea, many women workers have lost their jobs as Korean factories relocate to Indonesia, Vietnam, etc., in search of more "docile" and cheaper labour to exploit. The Korean women workers' movement which played a pivotal role in laying the foundation of the Korean labour movement now finds that women workers are the first to be retrenched -- on the basis of their gender -- as South Korea remains under the "intensive care unit" of the IMF "hospital".

Despite many difficulties, women workers in Asia are resisting and organising for change...

This 60-minute video is structured in three parts (apx.17 minutes each) to depict each of the sub-regions and is subtitled and narrated in English with the accompanying voices of the women in Singhala, Tamil, Thai and Korean languages. Other versions with subtitles and/or narration in the following languages are/would be available this year: Thai, Korean, Singhala, Japanese, Bahasa Indonesia, Cantonese & Mandarin Chinese, Nepali, Tagalog, Hindi, Urdu, Bengali and possibly, Portuguese and Spanish.

"Dolls and Dust" is produced by the Committee for Asian Women (CAW), a regional -level women's NGO that focusses on gender and labour issues in Asia. CAW works with 28 network groups consisting of women worker organisations, women committees of trade unions, women NGOs and those concerned with women as well as women workers in 13 countries spanning the 3 sub-regions in Asia: Northeast (Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan); Southeast (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand); and South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan).

Researched, directed and videographed by WAYANG between August 1996 and June 19 98 in Sri Lanka, Thailand and South Korea (with additional footage from Japan, Hong Kong and China), "Dolls and Dust" is perhaps the first video documentary to present "the other faces and voices" of women workers in Asia in relation to the ongoing crises in the region.

"Wayang" means image. However, in Malaysia and Indonesia, the term is more nota bly used together with another as "Wayang Kulit" -- meaning a lively, musical, shadow play. In the Chinese language, "Waying" is closely associated with picture, image or shadow. Both WaYING and WaYANG, in essence, mean the same in these popular languages. As an alternative communication group, WAYANG seeks to visualise that which is "shadowed" or repressed -- to communicate people's experiential knowledge and local wisdom; and to share moving images that seek to move people, in solidarity, towards more balance (yin and yang), justice and creativity in the existing communication disorder...

"Dolls and Dust" was selected as an award-winning entry from Asia during the 4th International VideOlympiade held at the auditorium of the South African Broad casting Corporation in Cape Town, South Africa (September 18-21, 1998). Towards minimising as much as possible the element of "competition" among the numerous entries from 25 countries, no "first prize" was awarded -- only the 10 best submissions were selected for the 1998 VideOlympiade awards. The theme of the 4th VideOlympiade was "The Right to Communicate and the Communication of Rights". The aim of the VideOlympiade is to promote equality and creativity in the field of local television and community video creation. The 1st Video and TV Olympiade was held in conjunction with the Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, in 1992, and attracted 250 delegates participating from 24 countries. The 2nd Olympiade took place in 1994 in Scandinavia aboard a ferry, the Kristina Regina, tr avelling between Denmark, Sweden and Norway with 250 delegates from 29 countries. The 3rd Olympiade took place at Paulo Freire's Instituto Cajamar in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 1996.

The 4th VideOlympiade was held in conjunction with the International Conference and General Assembly of VIDEAZIMUT, an international NGO that is now present in over 45 countries and connects approximately 12,000 communication activists who work from their own communities, regional organisations or even global ones, to build diversity and promote the democratic practice of audiovisual communic ation for development.

How to Order:

"Dolls and Dust" is available at the subsidised price of US$25 per VHS/PAL copy (cash & carry sale only); or US$40 per VHS/PAL copy (inclusive of postage, packing, registration fee and bank charges).

Please make your cheque payable to CAW Ltd and send it to: Committee for Asian Women, Unit E, 4/F, Skyline Tower, 18 Tong Mi Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Fax: (852) 2369-9895 E-mail: For orders after August 1999, please contact

Limited copies of "Dolls and Dust" would be made available at a specially reduced price or even on a complimentary/exchange basis to certain impecunious groups in the South (and in exceptional cases, in the North as well). Please send details about your work and your organisation when making any request. Copies in both PAL and NTSC Betacam SP broadcast format are also available where required.