Cova Álvarez

My name is Cova Álvarez and I am a Spanish writer, gender expert and researcher based in Cambodia for the last four years.

Cova Álvarez in Cambodia  © Luc Forsyth

Cambodia, 2014 © Luc Forsyth

Throughout my time in Asia I have been involved in gender issues through projects, programs and initiatives implemented in Cambodia and Southeast Asia region by local and international civil organizations and women groups –as AECID, GIZ, NGO-CEDAW Cambodia, World Fish, Open Institute, ASAD, Psychologists without Borders – in order to contribute technically to the process of building equality between men and women in the country. This journey, full of encounters and shared efforts, has let me draw significant coordinates of the existing gap between de jure and de facto situations related to gender and women / human rights, and being aware of my role as a foreign witness and my responsibilities and limitations as a capacity building facilitator within this tricky international/national framework of economic and political interests.

I’ve been interested on human rights violations, genocides / dictatorships processes and feminism since I was a teenager, so that I have always had an activist presence in causes that were related to sexual and reproductive rights and the recovery of historical memory in my own country. This interests motivated my commitment –to date– and work in Accionenred during five years, a feminist organization formed by women and men of all ages that prioritizes working with young people to the construction of an egalitarian society.

I have followed a multidisciplinary and psychosocial formative path based on my understanding of life as a continuous process of learning, what I have tried to articulate through research, an expertise on Gender and Women Studies, the assumption of challenges and my wish of sharing this path with other people. From this ‘natural’ tendency parts my motivation of participating, maintaining and/or creating social networks to disseminate information, link collectives and sensitivities and establish collaborations with groups and individuals to keep on learning and walking together. I think that traveling and having knowledge of different cultural and social settings are fundamental parts of this journey, and I assume that as a choice. I also assume, as a point of departure, that what interest me most are people, the relationships established between them (and what can happen there in terms of social justice, inequalities, synchronies and personal-social transformation), their individual and shared pathways, their struggles, their artistic intuitions as a human engine and the stories that can be read though them if you know how to see and listen.

Once upon a time in Myanmar © Thomas Cristofoletti

Once upon a time in Myanmar © Thomas Cristofoletti

Writing, as researching, is an inextricable part of myself because words are my basic tool, the way I can touch what surrounds me: an opportunity to keep things far from death and, sometimes, to give them a second chance; to restore memories and facilitate encounters, empathy and recognition.

In my search for beauty –a basic human need, in my opinion- I tend to get involved in initiatives that I can share with other people, artists or professionals that can incorporate images to the stories that I am trying to tell. That tendency has led me to begin a creative writing project with the Asturian illustrator Maria Diaz Perera and to collaborate with the photographers Mona Simon and Antoine Raab to develop my current researches in Cambodia on Women Pathways and on Traditional codes of behavior and their influences in attitudes, developments and experiences towards sexuality, respectively. And, of course, to co-inhabit this light-room with my friend Javier Acebal.

In order to piece things together, connect all these action lines and feed the creatures that can arrive or flourish, I´ve built a room of my own: Taller 3 / Grandes Vertebrados (T3 / Great Vertebrates). We are under construction.

Exhibitions

Assesment and Writing. Photography exhibition Invisible Pathways. Breaking Gender Stereotypes Through Life Stories in Cambodia, by Estefanía Llaurado. Gender assesment; articles, captions and memory writing. Phnom Pehn, November, 2011.

Assesment and Writing. Photography exhibition In Asia, by Thomas Cristoffoletti.  Articles and captions writing. Madrid, October, 2011.

Blogs

Creative Writing / Poe.TRY / http://grandesvertebrados.blogspot.com
Notebook & Encounters http://grandesvertebrados.tumblr.com