Strategically using ICTs to amplify voices of silenced groups

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Women empowered to protect themselves against digital dangers

Zimbabwe is faced with increasing cases of violence against women and girls and the scourge has not spared women and girls living in Bulawayo North district. New Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are creating new ways for crimes against women and girls to be committed.

In an effort to challenge the menace, the Creative Centre for Communication and Development facilitated a Citizen Journalism training programme in Bulawayo North district aimed at increasing the voices of women and girls who are challenging violence against women and girls in the public domain using ICTs.

The training which started on November 20 and ended on December 10 saw each participant receiving an average of two hours per day of training.

Of the 19 women and girls who participated in the training, all of them owned a mobile phone, 18 did not own a computer and 1 woman had access to a computer at home shared among six family members. 12 women and girls had never used a computer, 6 women had basic computer skills and all of them could not use the internet although 5 could access the internet using their mobile phones. All of them had no knowledge of digital dangers and ways to protect themselves from ‘cyber pigs’ once they land on the super highway. 

The participants were trained to use computers and mobile phones to access the internet and challenge Violence Against Women while staying safe online.

A visual artist facilitated a two-day visual art session to allow both literate and semi-literate women to express their personal experiences on Violence Against Women.

Sazini Ndlovu, 37, one of the participants, a vegetable vendor and a single parent says she has communicated with strangers on Whatsup, a mobile software that allows people to send SMS at very low costs.

The training raised awareness on issues such as cyber-stalking, digital pornography and online harassment. 


Community observes Intrnational Women's Day

The Creative Centre for Communication and Development showcased digital stories produced by women and girls to engage the community in discussions aimed at curbing violence against women.

The digital stories were produced during a 21-day training workshop aimed at empowering women to use information and communication technologies to express themselves, make their voices heard and participate in issues that affect their lives.

Screening of the inspiring digital stories was done during the commemoration of the International women’s Day on March 08, 2013 at the Montgomery Hall, in Bulawayo North district.

The commemorations run under the theme A promise is a promise. Time for action to end violence against women.

CCCD records growth

When CCCD was founded the organisation had no offices. A make shift training centre was established on a veranda to avail ICTs to women and girls. The training centre had two computers, a digital camera and a device called a mobigator that allowed the organisation to use Free and Open Source Software and a mobile line for advocacy.

In June 2012, CCCD was awarded a grant by the African Women Development Fund (AWDF) for institutional development. The grant enabled the organisation to secure office space, recruit additional staff, purchase additional equipment and furniture and establish communication infrastructure.

The investment from AWDF has seen the organisation recording phenomenal growth. The organisation now has a three-year strategic plan, fundraising strategy, organisational holistic context which acts as our magnetic north in decision making, a structured training programme and a community mobilisation strategy.

There has been an increase in the number of people visiting the organisation for services.

From June 2012 to December 2012 we were using a participant list to record the number of people involved in our programmes.

In January 2013 we developed a traffic flow system to enable us to track who was seeking our services, what they wanted, their sex, age, location and contact details. The traffic flow system has been developed to gather data to inform our strategic thinking and for programme development while building a database of our primary beneficiaries.

Between January and March 2013, data gather reveals that we reached more women and girls. It also shows that men are interested in our programmes. Both women and men visiting our offices are seeking information regarding our trainings, participating in our activities and registering to take part in upcoming trainings.

AWDF visits Zimbabwe

Three officials from the African Women Development Fund (AWDF) - Capacity Building Officer, Finance Manager and Monitoring and Evaluation Officer visited Zimbabwe to meet grantees.

The AWDF team had scheduled to visit CCCD offices to get an update on progress made to date. Due to unavailability of flights on scheduled dates the trip by the AWDF team to Bulawayo was cancelled.

Thanks to new information and communication technologies, the meeting with Bulawayo partners was conducted online using Skype.

CCCD shared its successes and challenges. The AWDF team gave a thumps up to the developments at CCCD and pointed out aspects that needed to be addressed for the organisation to further strengthen its systems.

CCCD is one of the AWDF grantees. The organisation received USD20, 000 to implement institutional development processes that will enable the organisation to put in place systems that support its growth.

New voices of women emerge

Women’s voices in the public domain in Zimbabwe are constrained because of excessive male dominance in all aspects of life including the media. Women’s opinions and concerns are expressed in the media through the eyes of men and this has contributed to the trivialisation of women’s issues.

For women in Bulawayo North district, such a situation is set to change. The Creative Centre for Communication and Development (CCCD) is empowering women and girls not only to seek, receive and impart information but also to listen and be heard, understand, learn, create and respond to issues that affect their lives.

Recently, CCCD facilitated a 21-day training programme that targeted 18 women and girls who are disadvantaged. The training which took place three times a week started on January 21 and ended on March 6. Its goal was to produce relevant content for women, by women, in a language they can understand and in formats they can easily access for the purpose of advocacy aimed at advancing their rights.

The technology skills transfer programme empowered women and girls to tell personal stories using a computer, Free and Open Source Software, an audio recorder and digital camera.

The training took place in a conducive environment where each woman chose to share her personal story of hope, pain, survival or courage. Of the 18 women and girls who were trained, eight chose to share their digital stories publicly. The stories ranged from abuse, HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancies, forced marriages, unemployment to alcohol abuse. Sharing of these personal stories was therapeutic for the women and girls. By end of the training, they regarded each other as a pillar of support.

After the roller-coaster training, the women felt confident to share their personal stories with the entire community when the community commemorated the International Women’s Day on March 08.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Grassroots women call for an end to violence against women

digital storytelling viewing
The Creative Centre for Communication and Development (CCCD) hosted the commemorations for the 2013 International Women’s Day amid cries by concerned community members over escalations of violence against women. 

The commemorations drew participants from all sections of Reigate district in Bulawayo, including the District Administrator, the Zimbabwe Republic Police, Mother’s Union members of the Methodist Church and Noah’s Ark ministries, the media fraternity, women’s groups and young people.
The commemorations were held under the United Nations theme, A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women. The theme seeks to strengthen international community’s commitment to put an end to violence against women.  

Speaking during the commemorations, Pastor Febbie Chuma, who is the Chairperson of the Creative Centre for Communication and Development, attributed the increase in violence against women to some negative cultural and religious practices that relegate women to subservient roles.
“There are some religious people who seek to (mis)-use the Bible to oppress women by saying that God created a woman just to be a man’s helper yet God created man and woman equal,” said Pastor Chuma.

The commemorations were marked by discussions based on digital stories produced by grassroots women narrating their personal experiences on issues such as HIV/AIDS, unemployment, alcohol abuse, disability and teenage marriages and pregnancy. Officials from the District administrator’s office read the speech by the United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Ban Kimoon.
CCCD director, Ms Gertrude Pswarayi said that her organisations seeks to bring voices of marginalised women and girls to the fore.

We firmly believe that these digital stories will inspire both men and women to work together as equal partners in ending violence against women and girls,” says Gertrude Pswarayi, CCCD Director.
The UN Women estimates that up to 50% of sexual assaults are committed against girls under the age of 16, 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not yet considered a crime, up to 70% of women in the world report having experienced physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lifetime and that over 60 million girls worldwide are child brides, married before the age of 18.

It is against such shocking statistics that the organisation was adding the new voices to challenge violence against women.