Texting Peace

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Texting Peace

$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Our initiatives bring awareness to youth, give abused women tools to store their evidence and mobilize communities with texting.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Guatemala has some of the highest rates of violence against women in the world. In the last decade alone, nearly 6,000 were murdered, and only 2% of the killers were convicted. Many of these women had been subject to this violence for years that was marked by silence and fear. Over half of the killings were a result of domestic abuse from an intimate partner. Many women do not denounce threats or beatings because the justice system is extremely inefficient and tends to blame the victim. Many women experiencing abuse believe it would only make matters worse if they reported. Some women fear that their aggressors will only be provoked more or hurt someone close to them to avenge them for reporting. Speak Out For Tod@s is teaming up with Grupo de Mujeres Ixchel and Survivor's Connect to address this problem with a text-messaging campaign. All of our services are free of charge. We have three target groups within our first two years: 2,300 youth ages 16 - 30, 1,000 indigenous and non-indigenous women being abused/threatened by their partner and/or employee, and 75 community leaders that would like to address this issue head-on.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Text-messaging is extremely culturally relevant in Guatemala. Even individuals who live in extreme poverty and have limited access to running water have a cell phone. Our text-messaging service offers an advice-line that youth ages 16 - 30 can subscribe to. There they will receive insights on how to create healthy relationships and an environment that is conducive to the growth of both men and women. Our service will have an evidence-collection database geared towards women who experience violence from their partners and/or employers to address the problem that a lot of abuse and the majority of threats go unreported. We particularly want to do outreach with indigenous women in Guatemala, who are especially distrusting of authorities because of cultural stigma and geographic isolation. The project will encourage highly marginalized women to become comfortable with the idea of reporting violence and allow them to save their evidence (in form of text message, email, voicemail, or photos) in our database, should they one day decide to press charges and need to establish a history of violence. Community leaders can take action by creating a watch dog group that begins a local partnership with law enforcement to become the eyes and ears of the community. Each watch dog group will have its own local phone number where their constituents can reach them via text message.The watch dog groups will urge people in the community to report suspicious activity such as possible human trafficking rings, forced prostitution, domestic violence, and child/elder abuse to their local line.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

We will be doing a lot of work off-line to promote TEXTING PEACE during our 60-town tour where we screen the film and hold violence prevention workshops throughout Guatemala. Individuals can either sign up for the advice-line by sending the short code #paz to our number, by submitting their phone number onto our website. Those who subscribe will receive an automatic text-message with an option to register with their postal code to receive updates on regional screenings and actions. Our goal with our evidence-collection tool is to get women in the habit of denouncing violence. Anonymity is particularly crucial for this demographic because many women would be experiencing spousal abuse. In our off-line promotion of our data-collection initiative, we will emphasize the following three points : 1.) We are only a data-collection service. If a woman needs immediate assistance, she must call the local police. 2.) She should delete her text history once she contacts us, in case her aggressor might monitor her communication. 3.) In her first text to us, she should indicate whether it is safe or not for us to contact her. In the screenings, we will hand out discussion guides and brochures with suggestions for ways to take action, one of which will be creation of the dog watch groups. The groups will do their own outreach to mobilize communities to report violence. Women who wish to report domestic violence but hesitate to because of fear of retaliation can also turn to the watch dog groups as advocates and in some cases may even request accompaniment to make a report.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are many women's rights groups, political coalitions, and shelters in Guatemala. There are numerous other agencies, including UN Women and Embassies that push women's right initiatives. Currently, there are no hotlines or on-site intervention programs geared toward gender violence in Guatemala. We are filling a big need in that respect. At this point, we are bringing tools and services that are vastly needed and unavailable. The biggest challenge other players in the women's service field could pose to our growth has to do with the lack of resources to fund and manage these types of projects. The partnerships that we have established in Guatemala are enough to get the word out and keep us comfortably staffed. We are open to hearing out any concerns our colleagues might present to us. Our goal is to expand our reach, build more partnerships, and employ more staff given that we have the need and means. To avoid competing for the some monies as our peers, we developed a solution to sell CDs from our audience-participation music-making tour to sell as merchandise. This is our way to become self-sustainable once we are off the ground running.
About You
Speak Out For Tod@s
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Speak Out For Tod@s

Organization Country

, CA, Los Angeles County

Country where this project is creating social impact

, GU

How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

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Select the stage that best applies to your solution

Start-Up (a pilot that has just begun operating)

How long have you been in operation?

Still in idea phase, but looking to launch soon

Social Impact
FOUNDING STORY: We want to hear about your “Aha!” moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution’s potential to change the world.

This project started as a documentary film, JUSTICE FOR MY SISTER, which looks at the struggle of one woman in Guatemala to see that her sister's killer is held accountable. We followed the story from beginning to end and witnessed and experienced a number of setbacks. Because of our main character Rebeca's determination and courage, this case ended up being one of the very few to end in a conviction this last decade.
During production of the film, I was subject to a home invasion in which all my camera equipment was stolen and I was given death threats and raped. I shared my story with Rebeca shortly after it happened. She was very empathetic and told me to be patient with my healing process. She gave me peace of mind by assuring me that this would give me the strength and vision that I needed to make a far-reaching change with the film.
I began researching online technologies to address violence against women and came across Survivor's Connect. Aashika Damodar, CEO of Survivor's Connect, has been an unwavering partner of the project ever since.

Specify both the depth and scale of your solution’s social impact to date

While we have yet to launch our text-messaging service in Guatemala, we've begun our initial outreach with the film in California and the response has been very strong. Over 350 people have seen the film in its current fine cut stage. Many young Latinas have been very touched by the portrayal of Rebeca, a strong, dark-skinned heroine who beats Goliath with her persistence. One 29-year-old female audience member reported feeling "empowered." Male audience members have been challenged to think about how the issue of misogyny is not limited to Guatemala and exists in our own communities in the United States.
By the end of our tour in Guatemala, we anticipate that over 6,000 will have watched the film and been exposed to our text-messaging campaign.

What is your projected impact within the next 1-5 years? Is your idea replicable? If so, how?

We expect to hear from 500 women per year who want us to store their evidence. We aim to encourage 150 women per year to report crimes. We aim to oversee the formation of 4 successful watch dog groups each year. We expect 1,500 youth to subscribe to our advice-line the first year, and aim to recruit 800 the years to follow.
I absolutely believe that this project can serve as a replicable model. We have plans to replicate this project in the United States. Our U.S.-based evidence collection tool will be geared towards undocumented Spanish-speaking women, as many of them do not report crimes for fear of being deported. We are teaming up with our project partners Peace Over Violence and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) to make our project's reach most effective.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and mark growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

Get at least 800 subscribers to sign up for our text-messaging campaign

Six-Month Tasks
Task 1

Train staff and volunteers in crisis intervention and platform use

Task 2

Set up Ushahidi and Frontline SMS platforms

Task 3

Develop content that we can send out in bulk messages

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

Develop 4 effective watch dog groups in indigenous communities

12-Month Tasks
Task 1

Promote use of hotline with brochures, word of mouth, film campaign, radio announcements, and fliers

Task 2

Identify and train community watch dog groups and their local partners (ie. police and non-profits)

Task 3

Designate local phone numbers to the watch dog groups

How many people have been impacted by your project?

101 - 1,000

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

More than 10,000

Explain how your company, program, service or product is structured

Hybrid model

What barriers have hindered the success of your project to date? How do you plan to overcome these and other challenges as you grow your solution?

Initially, we wanted to launch an extremely comprehensive text-messaging hotline with on-site advocacy throughout the entire country, but we had to reconsider our approach due to being understaffed. We decided to adjust our intervention and create the watch dog groups to make the on-site interventions instead. In reality, this has produced a much better possibility for sustainability, because we are mobilizing communities to take ownership of their neighborhood's safety by creating strategic alliances with local police enforcement.
Another hinderance we foresee is gaining rapport with communities that fear and distrust local authorities. We are addressing this concern by training students to lead the campaign and gaining communities trust with comprehensive on-the-ground outreach.

How do you see the information-technology and media sectors shifting over the next decade? How will your solution adapt to and/or drive that changing environment?

A bigger and more defiant counter-narrative to corporate media is emerging and making even more use of alternative media. Viewer-content-based and collaborative media-making sites such as our partners Stroome.com will give viewers tools to share their own stories. Technology is being used by communities who have been historically marginalized to document atrocities and demand justice. TEXTING PEACE pushes this trend even farther, by reaching out on a grassroots level to mobilize our constituents to take justice-oriented actions over their own lives.

Failure is not always an option. If your solution fails to gain traction in the next two years, what other applications of the idea could you explore?

If TEXTING PEACE fails to gain traction in the next two years, we will make a concentrated push on Facebook to promote the use of our advice-line to youth. We will ask Guatemalan musicians like Alejandro Arriaza to become spokespeople for our Facebook campaign with specified marketing to Guatemalan youth.
We are also considering the possibility of tracking street harassment with a citizen mapping tool. This is an function we might decide to implement even in the case of success. The idea is to allow users to send SMS reports and photos to a central mapping platform to visualize problem areas. We want to produce a counter-narrative to the one of misogyny and marginalization of women. If women become comfortable with contacting us and reporting street harassment, it is more likely that they would use our other functions as well.
We are currently developing instructional animated videos that viewers can text to each other or share with their contacts on Facebook to promote the use of TEXTNG PEACE.

Expand on your selections, explaining how you will sustain funding

To date, SOFT's funding has generated from merchandise sales of tee-shirts to our student and activist networks based in the United States. JUSTICE FOR MY SISTER has been supported by arts grants and funding from foundations, Embassies, and a Kickstarter crowdsourcing fund-drive. Others have contributed to our fiscal agent in exchange for tax-writeoffs.
We will offer all of our services and programs in Guatemala to the public free-of-charge. We are approaching the main Telecom companies in Guatemala to see if they can give us a corporate sponsorship or free credit, or free shortcodes.
We will hold a Latin American tour with our composers where audiences will collectively compose music in response to the film. We will release a compilation CD and the sales will go 100% to TEXTING PEACE.

Tell us about your partnerships

Grupo de Mujeres Ixchel and 15 student volunteers will be touring the country with the film to talk about critical issues that the film raises with multigenerational audiences in churches, schools, and other local non-profit organizations. Partners of our film's outreach and tour include Sector de Mujeres (an alliance of 33 political organizations that services over 10,000 women in Guatemala) and the Myrna Mack Foundation. They will host some of the screenings and promote TEXTING PEACE to their constituents.

What type of team (staff, volunteers, etc.) will ensure that you achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section?

SOFT has 6 volunteers based in the Los Angeles area. Our partner Aashika Damodar will help guide us through our process of getting our project of the ground. Five part-time staff members from Grupo de Mujeres Ixchel and the 15 student volunteers who will participate in our film's tour and campaign will ensure that we achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section. As we conduct our film tour, we will be able to identify local organizations and collectives that can serve as local partners and in some cases, watch dog groups.

Changemakers is a collaborative and supportive space. Please specify any community resources you would need to grow and sustain your initiative. Select all that apply

Investment, Marketing or media, Collaboration or networking.

Specify any resources you might offer to support other initiatives. Select all that apply

Marketing or media, Research or information, Collaboration or networking, Innovation or ideas, Mentorship.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren’t specified within the list

Speak Out For Tod@s is comprised of domestic violence intervention specialists, innovators, designers, and researchers. We see social networking as a great resource to promote our initiatives and we would be happy to assist other organizations in pushing their efforts, as well. We are interested in expanding the tools that we are using to other sites. Currently, we are compiling an activist toolkit to facilitate the expansion of our grassroots organizing methods and new media tools to implement our model in other sites as well. We are excited to learn from other projects and gain guidance from others' experience with marketing and investment. We are always eager to network with other innovative projects that promote social justice throughout the globe.

Define your company, program, service or product in 1-2 short sentences

TEXTING PEACE is a text-messaging service that brings communities together to eradicate violence against women in Guatemala.