Kenya is ranked top among internet consumers in Africa.
Amref Health Africa has decided to use the huge social media numbers in the fight against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) rampant in the region.
The organization has embarked on maximizing on the use of social media platforms to train societal actors on digital advocacy.
Although young people are the active ones digitally, the old are the custodians of the societyDanish Ochieng
Danish Ochieng from Amref Health Africa in Kenya stated that the entity aims to maximise the use of social media platforms to advocate for change in society.
He says the best way to start is through training the societal actors at the community level on how to use these digital tools.
Digital platform use has been hailed as a faster and more efficient way to advocate for the urgent need for change and action in modern society.
With Kenya being ranked among the top internet consumers in Africa, there is a clear indication that quite a huge number are on social media.
This, therefore, provides a good platform for calling for social change on matters of FGM and GBV.
However, amidst possible challenges, Migori County still provides a better environment for digital advocacy to thrive.
“This training comes at the time when there is an assumption that young people are the ones online and can do the advocacy using their smartphones,” he recounts.
“Although young people are the active ones digitally, the old are the custodians of the society,” Ochieng furthered.
Such assumptions, however, he said are ill-advised, as even the people deep down in the community can use digital space to create change.
Ochieng noted that they seek to bridge the digital gap through capacity building the old to understand the platforms and how they operate.
This is before they start taking actions on digital advocacy on creating more awareness of the dangers of the vice and the harm it causes to the girl child.
Furthermore, the use of digital space will help reduce the workload on the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on the ground.
Grace Orao, a digital advocacy expert, noted that despite women being the majority according to the 2019 census, they are the minority in digital consumption as compared to men.
This, she says, has posed a challenge in advocating for women’s rights digitally, as women who are the most vulnerable are fewer consumers of digital content.
“Women are the majority and are the most vulnerable when it comes to GBV and FGM,” she stated.
“Although their digital consumption is low hence challenging their call for change and action in the digital space,” furthered Ms Orao.
To bridge this gap, Amref is targeting men who are among a large number of digital consumers to influence women to embrace more use of digital tools.
“The buck stops with men who must accept that women have rights to be protected. Therefore they have to create an environment for women to thrive,” states Ochieng.
Vincent Mwita of Tunaweza Empowerment Organisation, a CBO in Migori noted that fighting FGM is a collective responsibility for the young and the old.
Mwita adds that the training seeks to empower the less advantaged digitally to be in a position to report any case of harmful practices digitally.
“Training of societal actors on digital advocacy comes in handy at the time that digital space has covered a wide scope,” he said.
“This will enable them to report promptly hence save the harm from happening,” he furthered.
The big challenge
Mwita however, believes that digital advocacy is going to act as a catalyst as societal actors are going to join young people in the digital space in highlighting and reporting these harmful practices.
The use of digital platforms also is seen as a safer means of counteracting harmful practices in society in this new era.
For instance, some hostile practitioners of these vices will not be able to launch a physical attack on a digitally shared communication.
This will put the Anti-FGM campaigners on a safer end.
However, cyber bullying is a threat to new digital consumers thus there is still more to be done in training them to be safe in the digital space