Take Back the Tech! End Violence against Women

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Take Back the Tech! End Violence against Women

Project Summary
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Take Back the Tech! is rooted in research and experience of violence against women and ICT activists in different regions in the world. Born from the TBTT campaign calling on all users of ICT to take up any tool at hand - a cell phone, mp3 player, camera, internet, email, paper and pen - to fight violence against women, it is a 12 country project that includes awareness-raising around VAW, skills-building in strategic and activist use of ICTs to defend women´s rights through Feminist Tech Exchanges, networking and strategising with VAW activists in 12 different countries, small seed grants for local ICT innovation to end VAW, activist campaigns online and off, especially during the 16 Days to end gender-based violence, and policy advocacy at the local level - to affect practice, policy or legislative change regarding VAW.

When TBTT started, broadband and social networking sites were largely unheard of in many of the campaigning countries, so introducing safety awareness and ICT skills in such settings was in and of itself innovative and the expressions of empowerment and excitement around anti-VAW activism heard from campaigners was thrilling. The campaign - because of its amazing local campaigners - helped women begin to use many new tools for mobilising and deepen their networking and knowledge around VAW - and to understand how the way VAW is being carried out has been changed by technology.

Face-to-face Feminist Tech Exchanges offer safe learning environments in ICTs to build the strategic and creative use of ICTs to self represent, document abuses, build knowledge, disseminate information, mobilise support and amplify pressures for change, through an approach that combines ICTs with women´s empowerment and healing. TBTT also tackles policy, legislation, and tech developments so that as our lives are propelled into an increasingly higher-tech information society (even in countries with limited ICT infrastructure) women's rights and especially eliminating VAW will also be on the "development" and "growth" agenda.

About You
APC Women´s Networking Support Programme
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Section 1: About You
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APC Women´s Networking Support Programme



Section 2: About Your Organization
Is this initiative/innovation linked to any established organization?


Organization Name

APC Women´s Networking Support Programme

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How long has this organization been operating?

More than 5 years

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What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1-5 years

When was the project initiated? or When are you planning to begin?

Take Back the Tech! (TBTT) was launched as a collaborative campaign in 2006 to raise awareness about the interconnections between VAW and information and communication technologies (ICT) and for women and girls to gain ICT skills - to be safe online and off, to document and denounce abuse, and to mobilise and strategise. The campaign, which takes place during the 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-Based Violence, has been taken up in over 40 countries by women's organisations and individual activists - primarily in Africa, Asia and Latin America - with campaign materials translated voluntarily into over 12 languages. In 2009, the APC WNSP began to implement a TBTT project combining awareness-raising, ICT training and policy advocacy in 10 countries (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Malaysia, Philippines, Pakistan, Cambodia, DRC, Congo, Uganda and South Africa) in efforts to take our learnings from the TBTT campaign process to address specific realities in diverse local and national settings. (This was possible thanks to the support of the Dutch Ministry´s MDG3 Fund.) For three years TBTT was run on the spirit and energy of collective activism.

What kind of beneficiaries is your initiative addressed to?

Women, Girls.

Describe the profile of the beneficiaries of this project

While everyone who uses ICT can get involved in a TBTT campaign, the TBTT 12-country project is aimed at benefitting women and girls, specifically, and especially women survivors of violence and women´s rights activists and organisations, to strengthen their ICT skills to support mobilisation and actions against VAW. Different countries in the project are working with different populations of women and girls. For example, in Colombia many of the beneficiaries are from rural telecenters which provide community access to information and meeting points. In South Africa, the importance of cell phones in girls'lives and the harrassment, violence, and invasions of intimacy that these have brought have stirred local partner Women´sNet to build awareness around VAW and mobile phone usage with girls. In Malaysia, a network of women´s rights organisations are working with their respective beneficiaries using ICTs to document women´s experiences of and solutions to VAW, in local languages.

What is your initiative’s implementation strategy?

The APC WNSP partnered with women´s rights or ICT for social change organisations in 12 countries, beginning with local research to understand the complexities of VAW in each country, the legislative and policy realm regarding VAW and ICT, and the ways in which ICTs are already being strategically used to end violence. These national reports are available online on APC WNSP´s gender and ICT policy portal, http://www.genderit.org. Each country has carried out strategy workshops with women´s organisations to raise awareness about the interconnections of VAW and ICT and to build a policy advocacy plan. Each country has held or will hold Feminist Tech Exchanges to build ICT skills for women´s organisations and survivors of violence. In addition to participating in the TBTT 16 Days of Activism, each country has made policy advocacy plans - some focussed on civil or penal codes, others on ICT policy, and still others on protocol and implementation. For example, the national violence prevention plan in Cambodia now also includes ICT access and training as part of its effort to increase women´s empowerment and ability to find support and solutions in situations of abuse. Seed grants in each country, to be offered this year, will strengthen creative ICT solutions to end VAW at the local level.

In your opinion, what are the main barriers or obstacles in connection with this theme?

Despite so many advances in fighting VAW, in many countries it is very much ingrained and socially accepted - enshrined in gender stereotypes and perpetuated in mass media. While ICTs offer an amazing outlet for awareness and dissemination of solutions and support, governments lack capacity to respond to the high need. Furthermore, ICTs have brought new dimensions and ways that VAW can be carried out - and can make perpretators harder to track as they hide behind the anonymity of the internet. One reaction to this from a legislative point of view is censorship and privacy invasion, ironically frequently resulting in further restriction of women´s access to information and ability to use ICTs as activists. Because technologies are advancing so quickly and our societies are changing so rapidly with ICTs it is hard for women´s rights activists to keep up with the changes and be aware of what is at stake for increased violence and lack of protection if we are not informed of these different dimensions.

What type of partnerships you have or intend to generate strategic alliances with for the development of this initiative? Choose all that apply

State departments or areas, International organizations, Non-Government organizations, Private companies, Social organizations, Universities, Schools.

Describe with whom you have generated these alliances and how

While the majority of alliances are with women´s ngos, social organisations and networks, each country partner in the project defines the best way to affect change and with whom. For example, Open Institute in Cambodia, a non-profit internet provider, is collaborating with the national women´s ministry. Some countries are exploring partnering with mobile telephone providers to provide information about government services and shelters to a users. Others are looking at cell phone company policies on privacy or changing legislation that addresses VAW to take into consideration new ways that abuse is being carried out via ICT.

What are the main results generated and/or expected to generate by means of this initiative?

Specific results include at least 48 local initiatives testing new and creative ideas using ICTs to prevent and stop VAW and stimulate community-building. Feminist Tech Exchanges to build ICT skills of hundreds of women´s rights defenders and girl and women survivors of violence to use, reclaim and shape ICTs to document and denounce abuses, and mobilise for increased prevention and change.

One example comes from the Congo. After an FTX training, a team of young women created podcasts with information about VAW prevention and services, burned them on CDs and cassettes and distributed them to local beauty parlors where they took advantage to play the podcasts, participate in discussions with the clientele, and provided clients and owners with the materials to continue sharing prevention information inside and outside of the beauty parlor.

The project also aims to mobilise key stakeholders in prevention and solutions for VAW by building feminist analysis into ICT policy processes, targetting hundreds of policy makers globally in local, regional and international arenas. Already 12 country research papers on VAW and ICT interconnections and strategic use offer insights into the changing dimensions of VAW in the information society, as well as recommendations for policy makers and activists. Furthermore campaign, training, research, and policy platforms online can strengthen later ict skills building and advocacy. (http://www.takebackthetech.net, http://ftx.apcwomen.org, http://www.genderit.org)

What is the main impact that your initiative might generate?

Women´s rights defenders, their networks and organisations, and survivors of violence with greater ICT skills pressuring for change, documenting their realities from their perspectives, circumventing stereotypes and offering innovative local solutions using tools that are accessible to women and girls in their communities. ICT for development research has shown that if women are knowledgeable about technology, their community status and self-confidence increase as does their ability to negotiate their rights. Interventions to stop violence against women and girls by women´s rights groups and activists will reach wider and more diverse audiences, including policy makers. Increased connection of women´s right to a life free of violence and their communication rights, including women´s rights to privacy, expression, association, information, communication and security. New and strategic partnerships formed across sectors such as the ICT field and women´s rights organisations, policy makers and private companies, in the effort to end VAW.