Women in the “capital of rape” use tech to bring attention to their cause
By Si jeunesse savait for APC WNSP
KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, 09 November 2010
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) capital city of Kinshasa, dubbed the “capital of rape” by the UN special rapporteur Margot Wallström, is a city fraught with violence and remnants of a war-regime. But women in the city are taking charge of their lives and demanding for more security, more services to help women survivors of violence, and an end to the impunity for those who rape, torture and kill women. Si jeunesse savait, a local organisation that works with youth and women in the DRC will be training four organisations in the use of ICTs to help prevent further atrocities and end violence against women (VAW). Seed grants of 5000 US each will go to four organisations, to support their work to end violence against women. The grants are being distributed by the APC’s Women’s Networking Support Programme (WNSP) as part of its Take Back the Tech! to end violence against women project, which addresses the third millennium development goal, violence against women.
TAKE BACK THE TECH! FUND WINNERS IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
Union congolaise des femmes des medias (UCOFEM) This organisation actively works on violence against women and the media. UCAFEM’s seed-grant winning project aims to promote gender equality in media programs in the Congo. The campaign targets students in communications from Kinshasa’s three universities. The project combines the art of communication, such as designing balanced programs with information exchanges and discussions between students, professionals and the different corporate communications entities. The organisation plans to work with 300 students in communications in addition to various people invited to take part in networking exchanges.
Toges noires (Black gowns) This lawyer’s association of human rights defenders is carrying out awareness-building campaigns on the rights of women regarding sexual harassment and other sexual violence that is commonly found in universities and colleges in Kinshasa. The organisation plans to train 300 students and couples the awareness-building work with training on how communications tools such mobile applications can be used to denounce violence and receive support from a specialised institution such as legal support centre. They will also run a website with additional resources for those needing more information. Toges noires, whose work is mainly based in Kinshasa, will receive an additional funding to carry the same project in the neighbouring provinces of Kinshasa (Bas-Congo and Bandundu).
UWAKI Sud Kivu An organisation of women farmers in the province of South Kivu will build the capacity of women and girls in the use of cell phones to report violence and fight against sexual violence. The organisation will teach some 600 girls in the city of Bukavu how to use their mobile phones for activism, including the use of mobile applications such as frontline SMS and Freedomfone to disseminate and access information.
Les jeunes methodistes pour le leadership et le developpement (Methodist Youth Leadership and Development (JMLD) The Youth Association of the Methodist Church will create a short film with the testimonies of survivors of violence. The film will discuss sexual violence, and will use a mobile cinema in order to broadcast the film in four villages in the province of South Kivu. Subsequent discussions around these topics will create debate around the prevention of sexual violence. The project is aimed primarily at young people from the Protestant church in the cities of Bukavu and Uvira in South Kivu, and may expand to city of Goma in North Kivu.
The Take Back the Tech! fund is a part of the APC women’s programme Take Back the Tech! to end violence against women project, which falls under the APC’s work towards achieving the third Millennium Development Goal on equality for women. A total of $20 000 dollars have been disbursed to twelve country partners for redistribution to local and grassroots organisations that are working with women and ICTs.