We need to UNITE FOR CHANGE: Join Forces in Investing to Eradicate Gender-based Violence (GBV) and Online Gender-Based Violence (OGBV). Thirty-two (32) years have passed since the United Nations, acting on behalf of the global community, declared 16 days of activism in 1991 to raise awareness of gender-based violence (GBV) and its elimination. These sixteen days are honored annually from November 25 to December 10. These days of activism provide a chance to raise awareness of gender-based violence, consider our achievements, assess our current situation, and refine the basic objectives we set out to abolish violence against women and girls.
GBV versus OGBV
The growth of technology has given rise to new innovative ways for perpetrators (both deliberately and non-deliberately) of gender-based violence. Instead of combating the traditional approaches to gender-based violence in society, the battle against gender-based violence has evolved encompassing both online and offline spaces. This broadened scope of looking at, identifying, and advocating against Gender-based Violence and Online Gender-based Violence necessitates a comprehensive examination of the concept of “investment”. This year’s theme of 16 days of activism calls for INVESTMENT. Have we really invested appropriately? Do we know what is needed for investment, or do we think it’s merely a financial matter? Are we truly ready and committed to investing? These questions may not have immediate answers, but they provide the foundation for all of us to be part of the solution, be it online or offline.
How does GBV & OGBV looks like?
One of the 2022 — Tanzanian report regarding Population, Health, and Malaria Indicators (Demographic and Health Survey and Malaria Indicator Survey — TDHS-MIS) on page 559 reveals that 27% of women aged 15–49 have experienced gender-based violence since the age of 15. Additionally, 33% of women have experienced gender-based violence from their partners. Drawing from social media, a 2022 report, “An Overview of Online Gender-Based Violence on Women Politicians”, page 28, published by Tech & Media Convergency and released in collaboration with some members of the “Mkuki Coalition," shows that 76.6% of women leaders in politics completely stopped using social media as a result of OGBV. There are a lot of resources that reflect on the state and statistics on the matter. We all need to invest time and dedication to learn more on the matter. The referenced reports are all available online.
Call to ACTION! — Let’s UNITE! Invest in advocating against Gender-Based Violence and Online gender-based Violence against Women and Girls. This year’s theme fits very well in amplifying the efforts in place and calling on more creative and intentional efforts from ALL. This call to action is brought to you by MKUKI Coalition, a coalition of Civil Society Organizations fighting and advocating against any form of gender-based violence. The coalition comes together during these 16 Days of Activism for the year 2023, to join with the rest of the world and invest for a better world for everyone. Through this call, the coalition reminds and emphasizes on how each and every one can play their role and INVEST!
The theme is “UNiTE! Invest to Prevent Violence against Women & Girls” What does it truly mean? — It means that it is time we recognize that “Gender-Based Violence” whether happening online or offline, comes with a certain cost for everyone in society. These costs are of all attributes, and no matter how little the contribution, it is worth the Investment. These costs are inevitable. The same as it is inevitable that if you are born, you will die. What we all need is to identify the tools that are we can afford and within our means. Each of us possesses the capacity to contribute, irrespective of our background or identity. Whether you’re a citizen, activist, young, old, male, female, employed, unemployed, affiliated with the government or private sector, professionally trained or not, educated or not, and beyond — everyone has something valuable to invest. It is an imperative for all of us to channel our resources and make meaningful contributions towards advocating against GBV & OGBV, with some of the ways as indicated below:-
Investment in “Combatting Gender-Based Violence” as a Community Member
- It is the duty of community members to educate the surrounding community about gender-based violence and to identify its symptoms, resources, and impacts in order to serve as a support system. Emphasize the value of educating the public about gender-based violence in order to raise awareness and encourage preventative measures. A decent platform begins with people’s houses and places of residence.
- Instead of viewing this as only a topic for discussion, community members ought to incorporate it into their daily lives by setting exemplary examples of respect, decency, and equality for individuals of all genders. putting money towards the eradication of abusive practices in society.
- People in the community should be resilient and aware of how different other cultures’ habits, traditions, and practices are. By making support investments, they will comprehend the most effective.
- The finest champions are those who live in the community; they ought to be able to speak up and make the case for why it’s so important to denounce gender-based violence and tolerate any indication of it, no matter how slight, in order to create a safe environment.
- Rather than covering up the crime, community members should be the first to demonstrate cooperation when gender-based violence happens by collaborating with pertinent organizations to oppose and denounce it.
Investment in “Combatting Gender-Based Violence” as a Private or Non-Governmental Organization
- Organizations should make policies and investments to support the development of a gender-friendly work environment. When victims are subjected to harassment within the company, they should have a system in place that safeguards their privacy as well as the privacy of those who submit information about them. Entities ought to lead by example in the community by abstaining from offenses including gender-based violence.
- To increase understanding of gender rights and stop gender-based violence, organizations should periodically invest in community education initiatives.
- Organizations should make investments to offer health, legal, and psychological support to victims of gender-based violence, especially those that are directly involved in ending abuse.
- Organizations should make an investment to ensure that official, quantifiable data demonstrates the true impact in order to gain a better understanding of gender-based violence and to give evidence in support of strategies and policies aimed at preventing it.
- Organizations can train stakeholders and professionals about gender-based violence and how to confront it.
- Organizations should make an investment in becoming advocates in order to put pressure on governments to adopt laws and policies that uphold gender equality and forbid violence.
Investment in “Combatting Gender-Based Violence” as Professionals (Researchers, Lawyers, Activists, Medical Professionals, etc.)
- Professionals can conduct research and ensure they are part of publishing comprehensive writings on gender-based violence, providing information that helps develop strategies to combat it.
- Professionals should have extensive knowledge of the right stakeholders, accurate information, and reliable sources to facilitate discussions and solutions to gender-based violence.
- These professionals should be solutions when it comes to medical, organizational, psychological, and other forms of advice for victims of gender-based violence, assisting them in physical and psychological recovery.
- Professionals should invest in participation, such as providing professional evidence in gender-based violence cases to aid legal bodies.
- Professionals should invest their time in advising the government on the development of policies and laws to protect gender rights and oppose violence.
Investment in “Combatting Gender-Based Violence” as Media Outlets
- Media outlets should oversee unbiased and fair journalism. They can question and report impartially on gender-based violence events, ensuring that the voices of victims and survivors are prioritized.
- Media outlets can conduct community education campaigns on gender-based violence, gender rights, and how to prevent and address violence.
- Media outlets should be Ambassadors and Advocates for Victims by investing in the right to provide a platform for victims of gender-based violence to tell their stories and share their experiences, promoting understanding and providing hope while transparently highlighting shortcomings.
- Media outlets should have professional analyses to ensure they follow research, statistics, and official information on gender-based violence issues and how to prevent and address this challenge.
- Media outlets should invest in their strategies and have a careful monitoring, advocacy, and policy influencing system for gender rights protection and opposition to gender-based violence, reporting on progress.
Investment in “Combatting Gender-Based Violence” as Legal Rights Oversight Bodies (Police Stations, Policy Makers, Courts, etc.):
- These bodies should ensure not to trivialize or take lightly the issue and suffering of “Gender-Based Violence” by making sure that every staff member and executive in the organization understands the signs, suffering, and effects of this violence on society to provide accurate services and decisions for all agendas concerning the community’s interests in recognizing or resolving this challenge in society.
- The respective Intuitions should provide legal services and ensure justice prevails over claims of gender-based violence victims and assist in pursuing gender-based violence cases.
- The respective institutions should ensure the implementation of policies and laws protecting gender rights and opposing violence.
- The institutions should provide training for legal stakeholders. Provide training for other stakeholders on gender law issues and how to handle gender-based violence cases.
- The institutions should conduct community education campaigns. Conduct community education campaigns on gender rights and how to oppose violence.
- The institutions should provide advice to the government on developing policies and laws to combat gender-based violence and assist in their implementation.
Being intentional with Technology and Innovative Solutions
While we might not have exhausted the whole group of individuals and entities above, we have given a glimpse of expectations and showcased that yes, we all have something we can invest in. Nevertheless, it should be noted that no effort can succeed in this world of the Digital Economy without recognizing the presence of Technology to keep pace with the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The goals, visions, and strategies for investment should align with and be in harmony with the use and acknowledgement of technology.
All the declared investments of groups and individuals are in vain if expertise, innovation, and technology is not applied. Then we all need to be UNITED and collaborate. It won’t be adequate if we operate in silos and have separate, fragmented initiatives. While financial obligations are significantly important, we also have a responsibility for investment in combined efforts to communicate clearly, stand as one, and UNITE!
Written and presented on behalf of Mkuki Coalition,
Asha D. Abinallah,
CEO — Tech & Media Convergency (TMC)
Advocate on Internet Governance, Security & Technological Adaptation
Advisory Member to the UN Women Advisory Committee (RCSAG)
Advisory Member to Meta Advisory Committee (SSA Women’s Rights Working Group)