Written by Sarah Dickins and Naomi Mwaura
It’s almost exactly 25 years since the seminal Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which called for an end to all forms of violence against women and violence against children. Since then, global interest, funding and initiatives to tackle gender-based violence have grown exponentially – but not evenly.
Even in an increasingly technological world, our initiatives (see, for example, this flagship report) often overlook the potential for tech-based approaches. In our commitment to ending gender violence, it’s worth asking: what are we missing here?
It’s in this context that the Kenyan women-led organisation, Flone Initiative, is launching their new ‘Report It! Stop It!’ (see a 2018 web-based version of this app here) mobile app. This is the first Kenyan-built and Kenyan-used mobile app for survivors and witnesses of gender-based violence in and around public transport.
Kenya is leading globally in the share of internet traffic coming from mobile phones. During the third quarter of the FY 2019/20, the number of active mobile subscriptions stood at 55.2 million nationwide. For many, it’s a highly accessible way to keep in touch. For Flone Initiative, it’s also a tool for highlighting the issue of gender-based violence.
Our ‘Report It! Stop It!’ app aims to create a space for survivors and witnesses of gender-based violence to voice their experiences and build solidarity with others. It’s completely free to use and works by allowing users to pin incidents of violence on an interactive map. If they feel able, survivors and witnesses can also add a description of the incident, time and date, type of harassment and perpetrator/s when submitting their report.
Using the data gathered through the app, the Flone Initiative aims to create a comprehensive database on gender-based violence hotspots across Kenya, particularly on public transport and other public transport spaces, so that Kenyan women can plan safer journeys for themselves and their loved ones. The data will also give government authorities, public transport operators, and civil society movements a deeper understanding of gender-based violence across Kenya, identifying unmet needs, raising public awareness and helping to shape policy on safety in public spaces.
It’s been a huge privilege to work together, as Flone Initiative colleagues, mobile app engineers, and advisors from across the sector, on the design, build and testing of this app – and an even greater opportunity to see it go live. As with any innovative project, it’s also crucial to reflect and grow from the process.
With that in mind, if you keep reading the article here you can find out about just a few things they learnt along the way. (…)