The annual international campaign, 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is known to begin every 25 November which is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and runs until 10 December which also marks Human Rights Day.
Under this year’s global theme UNITE! Activism to end Violence against Women And Girls, HER Internet in partnership with Digital Dada Podcast (a platform based in Kenya that focuses on discussions around Online Violence and Digital Security with a special interest in female journalists) and SheEsecures (an Ethiopian social impact driven feminist online platform that advocates for the digital rights and internet freedom of women through creating awareness of online safety and mitigating online gender-based violence) recently ran an online campaign to call action to the alleviation of online gender based violence against women and girls under #BanOnlineViolence and #SeeSomethingSaySomethingUG.
During a Twitter Space @HerInternet that took place on 8th December 2022 as we drew the curtains on our Digital Rights Advocacy campaign, the Founder of Digital Dada Podcast, Cecilia Maundu shared that the goal of this #16Days collaborative advocacy campaign was to create awareness on the issue of online gender-based violence which for so long until now is still perceived to be a fallacy and yet, it affects people in real life. Cecilia also stressed that the use of online platforms as the digital drivers considered for the campaign was intentional to ensure the inclusion of everyone beyond just the three countries (Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia) since the internet is an equalizer and speaks to millions of people.
Further in her submission, Cecilia emphasized the involvement of minority groups in the advocacy efforts towards the elimination of online violence so that their voices are not lost in the near future since the technology that they are being called to embrace is the same one being weaponized and used against them. “My hope is that in 5 years, we shall not be talking about the same thing because we have seen the trajectory of online violence getting worse. We are trying to look for the right mechanisms whereby we can actually end this problem because if we keep going this way, we are going to lose out on voices of minority groups online.” Cecilia concluded her remarks with a call for more voices to be heard and more platforms to be used to spread positivity which will in turn encourage others to join digital spaces rather than shunning them due to fear of online violence. And hence, contribute to the alleviation of online violence in addition to all forms of gender-based violence against women and girls.
Among the activities within this campaign, we held a live Town Hall podcast session with female journalism students in Kenya. The conversations were around how to mitigate the Online Gender Based Violence often experienced by journalists.
We also launched a Telegram channel in Amaharic, a language commonly spoken in Ethiopia. This Telegram channel will be a source of information on Online Gender Based Violence for women as well as offer a community of support to those experiencing any form of online harm. We know women in Ethiopia have long suffered with inequality brought on by limited access to technology and digital platforms as well as censorship, which is made all the more difficult by language barrier. Hence, this channel will bridge that gap.
In Uganda, this collaboration hosted Tech Fun Day but with a side of advocacy against Online Gender Based Violence. Some of the games played were geared towards increasing our understanding of online harms, how they manifest and possible solutions to dealing with them, both social and technological. Overall, in line with the theme of the day, “Reimagining an Internet free from Online Gender Based Violence”, we need to start building the blocks that will see us have a safer internet and digital environment than we do currently.