Mavic Cabrera-Balleza, the international coordinator of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders, recently wrote a striking article on Clicktivism. This is a modern phenomenon where activism is mostly taking place on social media and it often does not affect daily lives anymore.
She writes that issues such as gender-based violence should be addressed in more ways than simply the use of online hashtags: it should become real-life activism once again. Mavic Cabrera-Balleza argues that real-life stories and activism can be shared on various media, but that the story itself should touch local people and empower them.
Online awareness and real-life activism
Cordaid and its partners agree with this combination of online awareness and real-life activism. Our partners in South Sudan have shown us what it means to actively engage the local community. During the 16 Days of Activism, South Sudanese organizations STEWARDWOMEN and EVE have organized several activities and marches with the help of Cordaid, to voice local concerns and to promote collective action.
STEWARDWOMEN had organized a meeting in one of the UN POC-sites (Protection of Civilians), lobbying for a safer environment for refugees and internally displaced people. Partner organization EVE hosts multiple radio talk shows and roundtable meetings, including one with the South Sudanese minister of Gender.
On the 9th of December, Eve organized a Silent Peace March, with public presentations and cultural displays. All these activities focus on empowering women, making their voices heard and aim to create a community that works together to end gender-based violence.
Femme au Fone
Though these public activists provide a valuable contribution by raising awareness of the problem, the fight against gender-based violence does not end once the 16 days are over. Femme au Fone, a program supported by Cordaid in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Women, Peace & Security Barometer approach, are perfect examples of how sharing stories and knowledge can change people’s lives.
We spread the voices of these women, so you can hear them too.
Femme au Fone’s goal is to create a widespread community of women that share their security concerns with each other in order to effectively deal with them. People can send text messages to a general phone number. These messages contain current information on security issues in their local context.
Maendeleo Radio analyses these texts and discusses them weekly on a radio show that has more than one million listeners. This way, women stay up-to-date on local issues so they can support each other.
Women participating in the Femme au Fone program in the Democratic Republic Congo. Foto: Anne Kwakkenbos
This project, supported by Cordaid, is an example of how we combine (social) media platforms with real-life stories. Activism here is no longer only an online phenomenon, but the women in South Kivu actually experience a difference when other people engage in the project. Women like Justine and Furahah are empowered by the project, with the help or Honorine (in the middle) who works for Femme au Fone.
With our Women, Peace & Security Barometer, women get the chance to talk about their security issues in a safe environment, with people that have had similar experiences. Once these women have shared their story, they collectively work towards creating a more equal and safe environment, in collaboration with men and women from Cordaid and its partner organizations.
These projects are examples of how we and our partners work together to change the daily situation of women in different fragile contexts. We spread the voices of these women, so you can hear them too.