Supporting Women's Rights
Kalila is a Human Rights activist. She lives in a medium-size city in an Arab country. One year ago she set up a small organization focusing on Women's Rights. As part of a programme which also includes conferences in schools and capacity-building of social workers, she is now running a Freedom Fone Service aiming to denounce sexist comments or insults that women in her area often have to endure in their daily life, in particular on the street.
Thanks to Freedom Fone, in the event of any incident involving abuse towards women in Kalila's neighbourhood, victims can now use SMS to text in the insult addressed to them and the location where it happened. They can also call into the service to Leave-a-Message and report their story. Kalila and her colleagues maintain a database of all the incidents, which they have integrated with a map of the area that is available on their organization's website. The map, which is updated every week, provides a humorous but accurate snapshot of "the most sexist areas in our community!"
Women can also call in to hear a selection of other women's testimonies, as well as listen to a weekly 3-minute Audio Drama providing tips and tricks on how to respond in case of harassment and suggest appropriate answers to insults.
Kalila and her colleagues used small posters to advertise the service and call for action. They placed them in strategic meeting places such as schools, clinics, bus stops and also hairdressers and beauty centres. Kalila's younger cousin, who is studying graphic design, helped design the poster using cartoon-type characters so that it looks attractive. Word of mouth did the rest and the service now starts to be quite popular in the city!
Mayssa is a 20-year old student living in the same city as Kalila. She hates receiving degrading comments from men in the street and having them wolf whistle at her. She enjoys calling the service to listen to the Audio Drama. Sometimes she calls several times a week to listen to the same episode with her cousins or friends. She comments:
"You know, in our society many men do not think that women have the same rights. And even if this is a serious topic, I like this audio drama because it is really humorous. Some of the testimonies are also amusing although the problem is very real! Myself I really got fed up with this type of behaviour and it was a relief for me to hear that I was not alone and that I have the choice to answer back. This programme really creates a spirit of solidarity among women, and it reinforces our awareness about our Rights!"
Since Kalila's organisation uses the security version of Freedom Fone, the database of callers' numbers can only be accessed by the administrator - you know, just in case. Kalila is now thinking about extending the service to other countries. She is also in discussion with her friends Whalid and Susan on how they could turn the service into a Radio Programme.
- 2 Computers, one used as a server, one for other normal office work including a secure back-up database of incidents and callers.
- A 4-SIM cards OfficeRoute
- 4 x Sim Cards
- 1 part-time staff dedicated to listening to messages, making a selection of the most interesting voices to re-broadcast, updating the map and coordinating with a volunteer script writer and a group of actors to create audio-dramas.
- Printing and distribution of the posters (remember they were designed for free by Kalila's cousin!)
Role of Freedom Fone
- Activist campaign
- Gender equality and empowering women's voice
- Securing the privacy of callers
- Collecting oral testimonies