CREA's Anti-GBV Campaign: Where Technology Meets Grassroots Mobilisation

23 April 2018

`CREA’s “Meri Panchayat Meri Shakti ...Baadhte Kadam Panchayat Ki Ore” is an anti-GBV campaign where grassroots organizing meets mobile technology. Over the next 6 months, 22 Hindi audio episodes that dive deep into how to recognize, understand, and collectively organize against GBV and discrimination will be rolled out to women (and men) across Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

The campaign is in partnership with OnionDev Gram Vaani, CREA’s community based partner organizations in the two states, and many local women’s self-help groups. OnionDev Gram Vaani has been a key partner in co-creating the audio stories that can engage with the real life challenges of facing gender discrimination and violence through storytelling, and to also ensure that the stories are relevant, local, and relatable for women in Bihar and UP. The episodes will address everyday gender discrimination, offer validation of experiences, and depict stories of change that offer examples of transforming patriarchal social norms.

What’s unique about the Meri Panchayat Meri Shakti (MPMS) campaign is that it builds on CREA’s long term community based work with Elected Women Representatives, and infuses technology as a means of local advocacy. For the last 6 years, CREA’s MPMS program has been building the capacity of Elected Women Representatives (EWRs) and self help groups (SHGs) to integrate intersectional and rights-affirming perspectives in their work with women and girls and local governance structures. The current campaign mobilizes these long standing networks to help spread awareness, and also engage with the content collectively through listening parties – where women discuss GBV using the stories themselves as a tool to surface challenges and opportunities.

Technology x GBV

How it works is through a simple phone number that uses Interactive Voice Recording System (IVRS) software. Participants call the campaign phone number and leave a simple “missed call”. The campaign then automatically calls the participants back and connects them to the audio episodes. In addition to the episodes, the IVRS channel is experimenting with interactive features like a feedback and questions channel so that more tailored content can be produced in the future. IVRS systems can handle large volumes of calls and target women and men in rural settings who have limited resources. It also has the potential to break barriers of literacy, which is significantly low in both states, by using audio-based interactive engagement. Technology however is not a magic bullet and gendered access to mobile phones in India is still disproportionately biased towards men. The campaign has been engaging EWRs to popularize the project through street campaigns and on-ground listening parties– lending to a public advocacy agenda for women’s access to mobile phones in the process.

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