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When does it make sense to use e-campaigning?

  • If there are campaign staffers available who are familiar with the various tools of electronic communication.
  • To reach large, scattered audiences whose key members routinely use electronic communication devices. In countries where internet use or mobile phone usage is wide-spread, both advocacy and behaviour-change campaigns make extensive use of electronic communication tools.
  • To trigger immediate action: e.g. campaigners hear on Friday night that the campaign issue will be discussed in parliament on Monday, and want to mobilize voters to contact their local member of parliament.
  • To disseminate a large amount of information available at relatively low cost, e.g. by posting it on a website or spreading it through e-mail.

Bear in mind:

-      As with any other media, e-campaigning must be crafted deliberately and carefully. Do not rush into trying out a tool without assessing expected benefits against the costs (including staff time and technical expertise). Poorly designed electronic campaigning may damage your credibility, while inappropriate use of some tools, e.g. excessive e-mailing, may irritate your target audiences.

-      Remember the digital gender divide – for a number of reasons (including gaps between average incomes of women and men and unequal access to education), women tend to use or have access to electronic media less frequently than men. But the particular audience you target may be perfectly computer-literate depending on the context.

-      Take into account the targeted users’ internet connection speed: if your target audiences are likely to have slow connections, avoid using animations and large downloads.

-      Do not use e-campaigning if no-one in your organization or alliance is familiar with the relevant tools, or if your audiences do not frequently use electronic media.

Tackling VAW with Technology

The lack of adequate resources, information or analysis that explores communications and technology policies that prevent, minimize or address harm to women is a challenge faced by advocates working on violence against women. To address this, the Association for Progressive Communications Women's Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP) is running a two and a half year project (that started in early 2009) to strengthen women’s use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) to combat VAW, particularly by helping women negotiate the fraught terrain of ICTs where freedoms go hand in hand with growing privacy and security concerns.

As part of the project, GenderIT.org published a series of papers that provide a snapshot and baseline on the law and policy on ICTs and VAW in 12 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America. The papers illustrate the different opportunities and challenges for how ICTs impact on VAW, either worsening the problem (eg. use of ICTs in trafficking) or offering solutions (eg. providing platforms for women to collaborate and network against violence). Among the issues explored are internet and mobile phone access and usage, privacy and the unauthorised use of images of women and girls, cyber-bullying of teenage girls, the growing use of mobile phones as a means of greater control and monitoring of women, and the use of ICTs to better protect and assist victims of violence.

Read more: Erika Smith and Sonia Randhawa, Violence Against Women and ICTs, Gender Centred Bulletin, GenderIt.org, 2009.

Abstracts of the country papers – Argentina, Cambodia, Brazil, Colombia, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Pacific Islands, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa and Uganda –are available on the website.

Tool:

Fairsay, Oxfam GB, Advocacy Online, 2008. E-Campaigning Resource Pack