End violence: Most significant change story from Kenya

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By International Association of Women in Radio and Television for APCNews

Kenya, 24 July 2014

The APC End violence: Women’s rights and safety online project is changing women’s lives. It is our goal with this section to offer a personal look at individual women whose lives have been significantly impacted by the initiative. This week, the project partner in Kenya, the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT), shares the stories of women whose organisations were strengthened in a sustainable way to address technology-related violence against women after a training of trainers (TOT) on technology and violence against women which took place in Nairobi in September 2013, and how those learnings impacted on the lives of hundreds of Kenyan women.

All the women leaders trained by IAWRT during the TOT workshop “Technology and violence against women – Harm, safety and building evidence” gained an understanding of technology-related VAW issues in Kenya and globally, how these violations take place and why reporting is important. They have embraced technology because they are now able to stay safe online and report abusive emails and messages, unlike in the past, when they would just delete abusive messages and close their social networking sites.

Mary Onyango, lead researcher for the tech-related VAW project in Kenya, considers that the TOT workshop on technology and violence against women has impacted knowledge and skills around the use of the internet as an important tool for communication but also one that can be dangerous if carelessly used. “I am now very familiar with areas of cyber crime such as stalking, mostly by anonymous people online (through social media – Facebook, Twitter, etc.) who infringe on the privacy of users,” she said.

The impact of the training of trainers on security issues was without a doubt sucessful. As a TOT Onyango has been able to share some of the information gained with other women, who are more vulnerable online, as revealed by a 2010 report by the Kenya ICT Action Network, “Women and Cybercrime”. The report found that abuse, trafficking, intimidation and humiliation of women online were rampant in Kenya, and that women need to be careful online and use some of the security options available. These can be as simple as knowing how to create a strong password to ward off hacking or stalking.

“As a TOT I have trained women’s rights groups in the Coast region, and witnessed the knowledge gap that security training is filling in the lives of women so that they can stay safe online and continue embracing technology,” said Onyango. “The cybercrime training has enhanced my capability to conduct research on technology-related VAW to investigate the vulnerability of women and the existence of ICT laws to address cybercrime,” she added.

“The first time I attended a training of trainers on technology-based violence against women I knew nothing about security codes and how vulnerable one is if using a smart phone. I thank IAWRT and APC for planning such a powerful two-day training,” said Mary Kiio, senior broadcast mentor at BBC Media Action.

Kiio trains journalists from mainstream and community media on proper ways of reporting at the BBC, and after the TOT she incorporated the knowledge she acquired in the monthly trainings that she delivers to journalists from various media houses. “But before tech-related VAW trainings were incorporated into trainings, I first of all trained my colleagues at the BBC Kenya Office, and the management team found the training relevant and timely,” she added. As a concrete result of this, all the trainings that she has carried out since September 2013 at BBC Media Action have a two-hour session on technology-related violence against women.

Now the journalists from various media houses develop radio features with teachings on how to stay secure online, how to change and create passwords regularly, and the importance of signing out of email accounts safely. They also learn how to identify when technology abuse has been experienced, where to report it and to whom.

“Today, most of my colleagues at BBC change their passwords regularly and create complicated passwords. Thank you for setting aside funds for such a noble project. It couldn’t have come at a better time than now,” Kiio concluded.

(END/2014)

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