The National Campaign on Violence against Women and Children in Zanzibar aims at decreasing the acceptability of Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC), and increase the willingness of the victims of VAWC to seek help as well as creating a public awareness and understanding, generate discussion and ensure action around violence against women and children.
Ministry of Labour, Empowerment, Elders, Women and Children has developed a five-year multi-sectoral strategy (2011-2016) in fighting violence against women and children, which led to the establishment of six one stop centres in district hospitals, formulations of National Committee of Ministers and higher-level officials to coordinate VAWC issues among other things. Subsequent to this, the government has launched a National Plan of Action against VAWC (2017 – 2022), which calls for a national campaign to upscale efforts to prevent and respond to all forms of violence.
Violence is still a reality for many women and children in Zanzibar. Fostering a safe, stable and empowering environment for all, is imperative in order to maximise the potential and the realisation of the human rights of all in Zanzibar. Concerted efforts must be applied to preventing and responding to cases of violence against children and women. Addressing particularly violence against children and adolescents, is also of significance, as research has demonstrated that adolescents not only are vulnerable to significant levels of violence during these formative years but are also more likely to start to perpetrate violent acts against others having first experienced violence themselves.
Since we have proven experience in coordination and development of Information Education and Communications (IEC) and the media, our deliverable was specific: - to coordinate VAWC stakeholders on content development and later design, produce and print said content for the national campaign.
We were given this task by the Ministry of Labour, Empowerment, Elders, Women and Children in Zanzibar with the support from the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, UNFPA in Tanzania.
We officially went to work in December 2019. The development of the communication materials went through different stages including internal planning meetings, stakeholder consultations on message development with the ministry, government service providers, NGOs, religious leaders, community members as well as adolescents and youth, review and validation and finally the Ministry’s Management draft IEC materials validation meeting.
Key areas for overall campaign message development were decided. Messages were collected from stakeholders and service providers working on GBV and VAWC, community members from selected Shehia and youth. These were then grouped into similar messages and a slogan with a call to action was selected based on the messages and calls to action.
It is worth mentioning two special groups, the youths and community members. Youth consultative meeting on campaign materials development was instrumental in determining two broad audiences –schools and homes. The youth wanted the materials to radically be incorporated into the national curriculum in primary schools so that at an early age, children are well aware of what Violence Against Children (VAC) is, how to protect themselves and others as well as where they can report VAC incidences. They also wanted parents to get enlightened for behaviour change on GBV and VAC.
On the community members consultative meeting we gathered that the community is concerned about the Internet access for youth and young people as a driver for abuse. That young people meet online and on phone – start relationships there, mostly ending in abuse, they said. Furthermore, they felt that every community member, parents in particular, has a role to play in preventing GBV and VAWC.
Developed messages were used to develop materials including jingles for mainstream media and banners for social media, Sema Magazine, posters and the same messages can be used face-to-face during community dialogues.
In deed a special issue of Sema Magazine for the campaign – 6,000 copies – was published. Sema is a children’s magazine mainly targeting children in schools. It is an avenue for children to speak out and learn from articles, brain teasers & games that are educational but also fun.
We also developed a short animation video for use among young women and men, adolescents and parents that centres on a gender transformative storyline of violence becoming less acceptable and bystanders becoming more active in their response and victims having better access to response services.
The developed animation is based on a case received at the National Child Helpline. It is narrated from a teacher’s point of view and as events unfold, voices of other characters are heard a few times. The story highlights several issues: rape, GBV, muhali and the culture of silence, the cycle of abuse. Most importantly, the video ends with a call to action, for communities to stand together and speak out against GBV and VAC.
Short radio dramas and jingles aimed at young women and men, that centre on a gender transformative storyline of violence becoming less acceptable and bystanders becoming more active in their response and victims having better access to response services, were also developed and aired on select radio stations in Zanzibar. All three jingles end with the campaign call to action and slogan; “Zungumza, Timiza Wajibu” – encouraging everyone to play their part by speaking up against violence.
The process for developing the campaign materials is just the start of the campaign process. Consistent messaging is needed over the next few years by the Ministry of Labour Empowerment, Elders, Women & Children (as well as other ministries & government institutions); NGOs & CSOs, religious leaders, and development partners in order for communities to internalize messaging and change their perceptions of GBV and VAC.
Active and meaningful engagement of communities is key to achieving the desired change in this campaign’s objectives and radio programmes that have room for dialogue as well as community dialogues are good platforms to do so. Messaging can also be integrated into already ongoing initiatives being done by different stakeholders to fight GBV and VAC. Cooperation between civil society and government/duty bearers – will help achieve desired change in the long-term.
Besides running Childline Zanzibar, C-Sema is part of KUWAZA, which means THINK in English. KUWAZA is an acronym for Kuzuia Udhalilishaji wa Watoto Zanzibar (Preventing Violence Against Children in Zanzibar). Funded by the Oak Foundation, KUWAZA’s other partners are Pathfinder International, Action Aid Tanzania and the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). KUWAZA has the main goal to end violence against children in North Unguja, Zanzibar by encouraging preventive behaviours and quick response when VAC occurs.
This story was compiled by Childline Zanzibar media team.