A recently published BBC article on the role of feminism in mainstream media illustrates the role that media can play in both creating meaningful content and affecting real, social change for gender equality, by exploring the example of Egypt and incidences of media influencing social change, and how women breaking the barriers of inequality are influencing media content.

In Egypt, a simple Facebook page about where women are harassed the most turned into a movement on-and-off-line that organized anti-harassment protests and galvanized a whole section of Egyptian society.
The Womanity Foundation will hold its biennial gala next week in Geneva, Switzerland and highlight the driver behind emerging forces in the women and girls’ empowerment space such as the media.

In 2015 the Womanity Foundation, along with one of its first programs: Radio Nisaa FM in Palestine, furthered its collaboration to develop the Nisaa Network, a regional network of media companies delivering feminist content to a growing audience across the middle east and North Africa.
2016 will see the release of series II of the Womanity-funded Worth 100 Men (Be 100 Ragl), using animation to tell the story of a woman who pushes the boundaries women’s role in society, in the workplace, and in the home. Series I, a radio fiction, broadcast in 2014 enjoyed a larger than anticipated adience across nine countries in the Middle East and North Africa including Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Lebanon. Investing in animation takes this message to a new audience, a more mobile audience; whose news, communications and learning are in their pockets, and in their hands.

Mobile technology is not to be overlooked in the fight against gender discrimination. In fact mobile and online communications not only provide solutions to tackling women’s empowerment challenges, but conversely present new forms of discrimination and online violence, such as trolling and stalking.
Tackling violence against women through ICTs is a cornerstone of Womanity’s work in 2016. By convening actors driving innovation to prevent violence against women through the Womanity Award for the prevention of Violence Against Women, the foundation will provide three-years of support to two Awardees who will scale-up a successful innovation in a new context.

This, we believe, is where the magic happens. If an innovation for a subject as vital as preventing violence against women can be invested in to scale, and become accessible to women and girls at risk, then we know we are investing in delivering real, and lasting, impact.
Womanity will announce the winners of the Womanity Award for the Prevention of Violence Against Women, in May 2016, at OuiShare Fest. But we are equally as excited about sharing the shortlist this week. The four finalist pairs of organizations to compete for this award are:

Take Back the Tech!

Innovation Partner finalist: Association for Progressive Communications (South Africa)
Scale-Up Partner finalist: La Sandia Digital (Mexico) and their project Luchadoras.
Take Back the Tech! is a campaign to counter and build awareness of the problem of online and other tech-related violence against women. Since inception in 2006, it has supported local campaigns in over 30 countries. In 2011 TBTT! adapted the free Ushahidi software, enabling victims to report instances of online VAW, and build a global map of personal testimonies to help women’s rights organisations use evidence-based data to find solutions and speak out on the topic.

The Award would enable the Partners to produce internet TV programs to increase awareness of the campaign (particularly in Spanish-speaking South America), use online and traditional media to communicate tools and strategies for dealing with tech-related VAW, and build a network of feminist activists and media producers.

The Gender and Tech Institute

Innovation Partner finalist: Tactical Tech Collective (Germany)
Scale-Up Partner finalist: Just Associates (JASS) Mesoamerica (Costa Rica)
Whilst internet use is crucial to feminist activists, it can also be a space where women suffer harassment and surveillance. This can result in women’s voices being silenced as they censor themselves online in fear for their safety. This programs offers digital training in the field of internet security and privacy for leaders of organisations tackling VAW. The toolkits designed by the course participants serve to further train members of their own teams and networks.
The Award would enable the training programs to have a far greater reach through JASS Associates’ global network.

Breakaway Game

Innovation Partner finalist: Champlain College, Emergent Media Centre (USA)
Scale-Up Partner finalist: Grassroot Soccer (South Africa)
Breakaway is a soccer-themed video game, encouraging players to move away from behaviour that promotes VAW, towards behaviour promoting mutual respect. Young players meet in camps where they role-play scenarios that create environments of gender equality. The game has been played in 185 countries with over 5,000 registered users.
The Award would enable Grassroot Soccer to adapt the Breakaway programs to their location and its needs. The organization has successfully used soccer as a means to address HIV-prevention with young people in South Africa and further afield.

MyPlan App

Innovation Partner finalist: Johns Hopkins School of Nursing (USA)
Scale-Up Partner finalist: Il Comitato Internazionale per lo Sviluppo dei Popoli (CISP) (Kenya Office)
Abused women often have little formal support or resources available to them, and cannot openly get help without further endangering themselves or their children. MyPlan is a free, online and smart phone decision-making app that helps women to consider the severity of violence in their relationship, along with other risk factors, to decide whether to leave an abusive partner, and to create a tailored, safe action plan for doing so, linking into resources available locally. Since its release in January 2014, the app has already been downloaded over 9,000 times.
The Award would enable the app to be adapted to help women in refugee settings in Nairobi and Mogadishu, make safe action plans in partnership with health professionals.