How social media can enhance GBV fight

WOMEN activists and academicians have said that technological development can enhance the fight against gender based violence if it is well used in the society.

They said despite the challenges brought by the technological change, the role of social media in the GBV fight cannot be underestimated.

The group aired their views on Thursday during the commemoration of the International Women’s Day organised by the Tanzania Gender Networking Program (TGNP) in Dar es Salaam.

This year’s commemoration was held under the theme ‘Innovation and Technology Changes: A Catalyst for Gender Equality.’

Gracing the event an Adjunct Professor Verdiana Masanja from Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST) said social media is a crucial tool in the fight against GBV.

She said that through the use of social media, the society can criticise and report various incidents related to gender violence and take appropriate measures at the right time.

“The social media can also be used to educate and encourage the public   to fight   acts of violence in the country,” she said.

Prof Masanja noted that the government through social media is conducting a special campaign dubbed ‘Hero of Social Welfare Development” (SMAUJATA)’ to encourage people to take part in efforts to end GBV.

She further said that it is a fact that access to the social media and internet has helped to bring development to the users including women and marginalised groups.

“Most women have managed to expand their businesses and improve their livelihoods while access to information and knowledge has also been made simple through information technology,” she said.

Prof Masanja, however, said that, despite the opportunities arising from digital technology there are challenges related to the development including cyber crime, increasing incidents of GBV and online fraud.

She commended the government for enacting the Cybercrime Act 2015   to protect internet users and regulations which protect women, children and special groups against online violence.

“We call upon the government to strengthen enforcement of the existence laws and formulate regulations with gender focus in order provide special protection to girl children against online violence,” Prof Masanja said.

She further commended the government for continuing to expand digital infrastructure including the use of mobile phones and internet to Tanzanians.

Prof Masanja said, according to Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA) statistics for 2022, the number of simcards registered in the country were 60,300,000 with telecommunication coverage reaching  98 per cent by December last year.

By December last year, Tanzania had 31.2 million internet users, of whom about 90 per cent had access to the internet service through smartphones, tablets and laptops.

Earlier, TGNP Board Chairperson   Gemma Akilimali, said her organization in collaboration with the government has established a data base for women leaders in order to facilitate access of their information whenever the need arises.

She said TGNP in collaboration with Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology (DIT) has formed a data base dubbed Tanzania Women Konnect Portal which keeps the works of women in various fields.

For her part, TGNP Executive Director Ms Lilian Liundi called upon women, girls and citizens in general to continue learning proper use of technology for national development.

She said that instead of using the technology, especially social media platforms for harassment and gender violence, the society should use the platforms to educate people to shun such acts.

Ms Liundi made the call in Dar es Salaam on Thursday during the commemoration of the International Women’s Day held at TGN grounds in Dar es Salaam.

She said scientists should innovate devices which will help in the efforts to fight gender inequality in the country.

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