Fight violence against women through an app - Competition „Empowerment of women through digital solutions“ 

Women in Lesotho

A recent survey found that 86% of women in Lesotho have experienced gender-based violence (GBV) in their lifetime. Lesotho has committed to eliminating all forms of abuse and violence against women by ratifying numerous international treaties and conventions and by passing related legislation. However, the country’s problem in regard to GBV remains at the level of enforcement and response, especially in remote and hard-to-reach rural areas. Only 26% of GBV victims report the abuse to the police, and in the vast majority of cases the police try to mediate between perpetrator and victim, rather than treating the case as a criminal offence. Furthermore, the potential of IT and Social Media is not fully exploited for tackling development challenges in the country.

Fight violence against women through an App

It is against this background that a GBV pilot project, implemented by the EU- and German-funded GIZ-program „Participatory Initiative for Social Accountability (PISA)”, seeks to contribute to the prevention of GBV in Lesotho through the development and introduction of a digital solution (Smartphone-App). The app shall inform women about their rights GBV-related services and provide a safe space for "virtual support groups". The pilot project seeks to test a basic version of the Smartphone-App in selected communities in Lesotho and to garner lessons learnt for potential upscaling.

This measure is one of the winning contributions of the GIZ-competition "Empowerment of women through digital solutions".

Progress reports on the implementation will be published here in due course.

Progress report June 2017

During the first quarter of the pilot project, the structures were put in place for implementation, including establishing a partnership between PISA, the NGO Gender Links Lesotho and the IT-service provider Mainlevel AG. Workshops and brainstorming sessions were held to define roles, plan activities and develop preliminary specifications and ideas for the App.

Next steps are the mapping of capacities at council-level, the selection of pilot areas, the identification of a user group, content development, programming of the test version of the App and sensitization and training of stakeholders and users.

Progress report October 2017

The pilot project was initially meant to reduce the levels of GBV in Lesotho through the use of web designed applications for reporting cases of GBV in a friendly and safe environment. However, because of more time required to build effective partnerships with the police and challenges regarding the capacities of the Child and Gender Protection Unit, the focus of the project changed. The project now envisions the development, design and programming of a mobile application that serves the purpose of informing women of rights and services in regard to GBV and providing a safe space for women to share experiences and network.

The mobile app has been given a Sesotho name “Selibeng“, which translates to a well. In Lesotho, a well is a place where women gather to collect water every day and where they usually share information about issues that affect them. The application is also “a well of knowledge” that women will use to get more information about GBV that will help them to speak out and bring levels down.

The second quarter of the project implementation was spent on developing content and framework to be used in the smartphone application for the virtual support network. The training manual has been developed and it will be used to provide training to the beneficiaries. The training is meant to increase the knowledge of survivors on different forms of GBV, the legal frameworks available in the country and the services available within their communities to help reduce the level of GBV. The content on the mobile app will be presented in different audio-visual formats (texts, photo, audio and video) to accommodate low-bandwidth settings. As such part of content development has been the production of video clips and audio clips.

The pilot project is going to be implemented in twelve local councils in the three selected districts. Sensitisation meetings were held with the Gender Focal Persons of those councils. These meetings were meant to make them aware of the project and to seek their buy-in and support. The Gender Focal Persons also act as coordinators for the target group as they have to identify the survivors within their communities using the existing structures.

Gender Links Lesotho is using its flagship project, the Centres of Excellence for Gender in Local Government (COE) as a basis for the implementation of the pilot project. The COEs represent a unique, on–the-job approach to training and frameworks for effecting change at the local level by changing the attitudes of men and boys while creating safe spaces for women and girls.

After the identification of the target group, the risk and needs assessment workshops were held with the women who have been selected as the user group. These workshops resulted in identification of potential risks and enable mitigation strategies to be developed. As a next step, the app will be tested and the experiences shared with other stakeholders.

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