SMS to fight Violence Against Women

Posted by Esther Nasikye on Sep 26, 2008

Mobile phones are providing organisations and advocates with new ways to reach their communities. Now the Gender Based Violence Prevention Network in collaboration with Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) will use text messaging to create awareness about violence against women in Africa.

WOUGNET will be exhibiting in the SIMPlace at MobileActive08 to talk about Texting for Social Action, together with its vendor BulkSMS which has powered previous WOUGNET campaigns.

“We wanted to use SMS (short message service, aka text messaging) because many people in the region have mobile phones. We think we can stimulate a dynamic violence prevention movement that way,” explains Jean Kemitare, the spokesperson for the Gender-Based Violence Prevention Network, in an interview with MobileActive.

“Our members and other stakeholders are spread out over more than 20 countries in Africa and we would like to reach out to each other and feel a sense of solidarity during the 16 Days of Activism of Violence against Women,” Kemitare added.

The 16 Days of Activism are the brainchild of the participants of the Women's Global Leadership Institute in 1991. Participants chose the dates, November 25 -- International Day against Violence against Women -- and December 10, International Human Rights Day, to symbolically link violence against women and human rights, and to emphasise that such violence is a violation of human rights. This year, the regional 16 Days of Activism campaign will focus on preventing sexual violence.

The Gender-Based Violence Prevention Network and WOUGNET will conduct the regional SMS campaign to reach organisations in as far as Somalia, South Africa, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda. “The Network produces the content for the messages and has a database of numbers to whom they want the SMS delivered,” explains WOUGNET technical officer Ssozi Javi.  It is the first time the Gender Based Violence Prevention Network is using SMS to create awareness about violence in the region. The campaign is part of its ongoing work and its communications work that offers concrete suggestions on what actions people can tak e top prevent vioelence against women.

“We will reach out to our members and other stakeholders with suggested actions they can take in fighting the violence. We want to encourage everybody to do something: to speak out against and do something prevent violence. Each day we'll send suggested actions that community members, organized groups, policy makers and other duty bearers can undertake, and then others will add their voices and ideas and send to the whole group as well. This will create connection and synergy among activists” Kemitare explains.

In addition, the GBV Prevention Network will provide updates of members activities and how the campaign is unfolding. Participants will be able to send actions and experiences to the rest of the members.

According to the United Nations Population Fund UNFPA, younger women and adolescent girls are especially vulnerable to gender-based violence. Nearly 50 per cent of all sexual assaults worldwide are against girls 15 years or younger.”

If you would like to participate in this campaign send your mobile number and country code to

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