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Clémence kopeikin, brazil, 2019-2020

Fulbright Year: 2019-20
Country: Brazil
Proposal Type: Research
Field of Study: Public Health
Proposal Title: Photovoice to Understand Local Response to Gender Violence and Empower Brazilian Women
UGA Undergraduate Major: International Relations
Graduation Date: Summer 2013
Hometown: Le Mesnil St Denis, France / Naperville, Illinois / Alpharetta, Georgia

While gender-based violence (GBV) remains highly prevalent throughout Brazil, studies suggest that the introduction of public policies have led to notable improvements in children’s and women’s health and in reducing inequality gaps.

Clémence Kopiekin’s Fulbright experience in Uberlandia, Brazil, will focus on accessing women’s perception of the institutional response to gender-based violence in the southeastern municipality of Uberlandia.

Clémence, who earned a Master’s of Public Health from the University of Granada in Spain and a Master’s in Health Services and Prevention from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, plans to utilize a unique qualitative approach called “Photovoice.” For the study as she plans to recruit close to two dozen women in Uberlandia who have survived gender-based violence to participate in the project.

“This study aims not only to capture the perspective of Brazilian women on the topic who have suffered from such violence, but also to empower them,” says Clémence. “Photovoice is a type of participatory research wherein participants are provided with cameras and training so that they themselves become active researchers in the study and are involved in everything from data collection to dissemination of results.

“Photovoice results generate community-based illustrations of an issue, as well as recommendations for addressing it. As the women themselves are active researchers, it challenges the stigmatizing perception of being of victim of gender-based violence.”

Working with Dr. Mariana Hasse of the Federal University of Uberlandia, SOS Mulher e Familia de Uberlandia (a local NGO working in gender-based violence), and the Public Prosecutor’s Office Against Crime and Domestic Violence in the state of Minas Gerais, Clémence will spend six months conducting research and three months meeting with the women involved to disseminate the results. Hasse is an expert in the topic of gender-based violence and qualitative research.

“The local actors involved in this project know the topic and the community of survivors of GBV well,” Clémence says. “This will provide me the support to navigate a sensitive topic in a culturally appropriate way and in return, I hope the process will be fruitful for their work.”

She also plans to publish her research in a scientific journal. “No studies have previously been conducted in Brazil with this proposed methodology. Results can be used to inform gender-based violence policies and programs.”

Clémence adds that during her Fulbright year she aspires to host a cultural event, featuring local artists’ work in the subject of gender-based violence.

Trilingual in English, French, and Spanish, Clémence aims to perfect her Portuguese through this academic exchange in Brazil. She is a passionate young professional in the field of public health who has focused her energy in applying her research skills to the field of international development and the humanitarian sector. She has conducted three qualitative studies in three different countries (Mexico, Honduras, and Chad) in the areas of education and reproductive health and has also provided leadership in the monitoring and evaluation of humanitarian projects in Libya.

While studying at UGA, Clémence was a refugee family mentor and French interpreter for Jubilee Partners, a refugee resettlement agency in nearby Madison County. She also volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and the Red Cross.

During her studies, Clémence also began her involvement with Real LEDGE, a community development NGO. She eventually became assistant director of Real LEDGE upon graduation in 2013. In 2014, Clémence co-founded a Honduran branch of the organization in the country’s capital, Tegucigalpa.

“It was a great honor to work closely with teachers who demonstrated such resilience in their challenging work environment,” she said, noting that her work in education with Real LEDGE still influences how she approaches her work in public health.

Upon completion of her Fulbright experience, Clémence seeks the pursuit of a Ph.D. in women’s health, concentrating on education as a vehicle for prevention. Her aim is to continue using participatory research to promote reproductive rights in areas where it is most needed.

“Being a Fulbright Research Scholar will allow me the opportunity to deepen my experience in participatory research with experts and local stakeholders in GBV and reproductive health.” she says. “My life will be devoted to combatting gender inequities, whether it be through advocacy, academics, research, or the arts.”