In an increasingly connected world, I see technology as a powerful ally in the fight against gender-based violence. From mobile apps to online platforms, a new generation of digital tools offers hope for support and safety for survivors.

In today’s Sarafina, I’m eager to explore with you the crucial role of technology in protecting victims, raising awareness, and transforming social norms.

Let’s start with mobile apps. They can be used to raise awareness about different forms of gender-based violence by providing information on warning signs, consequences, and prevention methods. They can include interactive quizzes, survivor testimonials, and educational resources to promote a culture of non-violence and gender equality. In my research, I came across the “WeRise” app, a gamified educational platform aimed at raising awareness about gender equality and women’s empowerment. It was developed by young people for young people with the support of UN Women.

In Benin, UNFPA has developed an app called “My Life My Choice” which focuses more on sexual health education but also includes basic notions on gender-based violence.

Let’s talk about social media, whose usefulness is no longer to be proven. All age groups are addicted to it. Everyone goes there according to their center of interest, which is often very diverse, but what is certain is that these networks capture the attention of a multitude of people. Activists and organizations, both national and international, are also trying to make a place for themselves on these networks by using them as a means of raising awareness. So you have certainly seen awareness campaigns here and there at least once. As an activist, I am not on the sidelines of these actions. I even launched an awareness initiative on gender-based violence through TikTok a little while ago. I will tell you about it one of these days.

In the meantime, all this leads me to ask a question or two: are people really touched by these campaigns? Or at least, do they really feel concerned by these campaigns and applications? I admit it’s a half yes for me.

The primary goal for most people going on social media is distraction. And who says distraction, says music, comedy, trend, bad buzz, etc. So in all this mess, awareness messages and applications that are not in the same register, capture very little attention. We can therefore invest time, energy and money in awareness campaigns without obtaining the desired result precisely because the way of communicating is not adapted.

For me, it is imperative to speak the same language as the target or, failing that, something that is really close to it. Develop fun and youth-friendly campaign ideas to capture attention and why not associate those who could be called “influencers” since the target is generally found among them.

Digital offers immense potential in the fight against gender-based violence. We must know how to use it.

Edéladjo Florence ODJO, gender specialist

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