27 Apr 2015

4. Workshop on Emerging Technologies to Address Gender-Based Violence, Harare, Zimbabwe (April 2015)

Workshop on Emerging Technologies to Address Gender-Based Violence in Zimbabwe
27-29 April 2015

Introduction

The Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR) held a three-day gender and peacebuilding workshop for female and male representatives from key institutions responsible for security and peacebuilding in Zimbabwe. The workshop was held at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Harare from 27 to 29 April 2015. This workshop formed part of a larger project to support Ushahidi deployments – or similar platforms – that map sexual violence. The project has the long-term objective of contributing towards reducing sexual violence in geographical areas where emerging technology platforms are deployed in Africa.

The specific objective of the Centre’s project is to improve responses by relevant African and international actors to information generated by emerging technology platforms on sexual violence. The workshops that the Centre holds in this area provide a forum in which response actors are given information on the deployments, as well as a systematic explanation of the technologies and of their value in facilitating improved access to justice and support for survivors, transforming cultures of domination, and changing cultures of acceptability around sexual violence and harassment. CCR’s workshops also act as a forum at which the organisations with emerging technology deployments can network with response actors and facilitate interaction between survivors of sexual violence and those accountable for response. The workshops explore ways in which response actors can make full use of the data produced by the emerging technology platforms. They also build coordination capacity between the response actors through collaborative engagement, and encourage participants to explore the establishment of awareness-raising campaigns through the media and other forums to address sexual violence and to transform societal cultures of sexual violence.

Workshop Objectives

The April 2015 workshop in Harare had five key objectives:

  • First, to provide knowledge and understanding among key stakeholders on emerging technology platforms and how the platforms can be used to provide information to survivors of sexual violence;
  • Second, to foster greater understanding of issues about gender-based violence (GBV) in post-conflict settings, in particular the effects of deeply rooted patriarchy and gender socialisation on men and women in Zimbabwe;
  • Third, to strengthen the relationships between key sexual violence response actors in Zimbabwe;
  • Fourth, to share strategies to strengthen the respective capacities of the response actors to improve responses to survivors of sexual violence, and to make constructive use of statistics generated; and
  • Fifth, to promote use of the emerging technology platforms among survivors of sexual violence.

Participants

The workshop was attended by 18 participants from 16 organisations responsible for addressing and mitigating sexual violence in Zimbabwe, including government departments responsible for addressing sexual- and gender-based violence; non-governmental organisations (NGOs) offering emergency medical support, legal advice, and psycho-social support, among other services, to survivors; the media; and other relevant actors.


Workshop Methodology

The methodology employed for this workshop used a combination of experiential and reflective approaches. It comprised a range of facilitator-led discussions, as well as presentations, experiential processes, and debriefings. The experiences and perspectives of the participants were incorporated into the discussions. This approach was used to sensitively address critical issues on the culture of violence against women in Zimbabwe, deeply rooted patriarchy, and gender socialisation.


Exploring gender-based violence

The participants identified the root causes of gender-based violence, its contributing factors, and gaps in response. Poverty, religious and cultural practices, and socialisation were identified as the root causes of gender-based violence. Contributing factors identified included: drug abuse, impunity, corruption (especially among police officers), lack of education, and weak law enforcement. Gaps in addressing gender-based violence included: inadequate shelters, lack of safety and security for those who report such violence (particularly women, who are harshly stigmatised), poor communication and transport networks, limited affordability of services, lack of legal framework, fragmented knowledge and information, lack of policies and education with specific reference to sexual violence, and lack of data. Participants also noted the following:

    • Sexual and gender-based violence continues despite increased knowledge that it is wrong. This points to the fact that internalised beliefs, norms, and values often prevail despite contrary information being provided. There is a need to do more work to shift and transform these attitudes.
    • The issue of violence is often attributed to men only. There is little discussion in public spaces of violence perpetrated by women, even against other women.
    • Although social media and technology have created greater connectivity and expanded possibilities, they have also increased the means to perpetrate sexual- and gender-based violence.
    • Technology is an important mechanism that can be used strategically and creatively to address some of the challenges in responding to sexual- and gender-based violence.

Addressing gender- and sexual-based violence through emerging technology platforms

Presentations were made on the potential of emerging technologies in addressing sexual- and gender-based violence. It was noted that gender-based violence could be addressed through emerging technologies such as smart phones and the internet or social media. The presentations highlighted that mobile technologies have further been used for research purposes, and also as an innovative, low-cost mechanism that empower women by connecting them to high-quality news and information about issues including, but not limited to, gender-based violence. Building on the Ushahidi framework, examples have been rolled out in Sierra Leone, Egypt, as well as the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Establishing an emerging technology platform network

Participants discussed about how they would work together after the workshop in order to establish platforms that can be coordinated around emerging technologies. They agreed that they will need to: conduct a mapping exercise of gender-based violence services in the country; develop a plan for sustainability; design the platform; and develop the capacity of partners and community to roll out the platform. Participants noted that there should also be a clear outline of principles of engagement in the community, and that a monitoring and evaluation system for the platform will need to be established. A task force to coordinate the establishment of the platform was established at the workshop.

Outcomes

In addition to establishing the task force, participants noted that they had gained knowledge and skills that will be useful in their daily work.

  • “The workshop was very useful, provided a space for experience sharing and learning and unpacked complex concepts and issues of using technologies to reduce gender-based violence. I am committed to working with others and to disseminate information to our member organisations”. Sally Dura, National Coordinator at the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe
  • “The training was very helpful in building my skills and giving me knowledge of technological platforms in improving sexual and gender-based violence. The networking and collaboration started at the workshop will help my organisation to reach many people. As an organisation, we are fully committed to use the knowledge and skills gained, and as an individual, I will give feedback and disseminate information through the organisation’s network.” Goodhope Ruswa, Programme Coordinator at the Zimbabwe Peace Project
  • “This [workshop] stood out for me as a refresher course on gender-based violence work that I am passionate with. It was also very interesting to get to know what is happening nationally on gender-based violence from different organisations. [Knowledge and skills gained from the workshop] will help me, not only to attend to reported cases but dig deeper because there are so many cases which are left unattended due to perpetrator vs victim positions in society.” Nokuthula Dube, Programme Officer of Gender at the Ukuthula Trust
  • “The workshop was so participatory and engaging. It met the objectives and intended goals as well as aspirations. Yes, I was really looking forward to understanding gender-based violence in our context of work. That has come clear in the [workshop] discussions and deliberations.” Evernice Munando, Director at the Female Students Network Trust (FSNT)

CIPS Zimbabwe workshop 27 to 29 April 2015

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