In order to break taboos and stereotypes around sexual violence, we need to create safe spaces to discuss contributing factors. We have regular conversations on Twitter to bring in diverse perecpectives. Here is a synopsis on our tweetchat on the International Day of the Girl Child.
On October 11, 2019, SayItForward.org conducted a TweetChat to celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child on Safecity’s twitter handle (@pinthecreep).
The Twitter chat used the hashtag #EmpoweringGirls and commenced by asking participants what empowerment meant to them. The opinions varied from supporting girls with a safe environment with equitable contexts which is free from culture constraints to encouraging them to do what they like even if it is just hot yoga. Some answers stressed the importance of education while some highlighted the significance of freedom. The second question was about International Day of the Girl Child’s theme of 2019, ‘Girl Force: Unscripted and Unstoppable’. The discussion revolved around how cultural norms stop girls from becoming confident, courageous and empowered. Participants stated that cultural norms not only hamper the growth of a girl but also sometimes promote violence and abuse. Furthermore, the stereotype of girls being a certain way often discourages them to discover their true selves and the patriarchal nature of society affects their possibility of reaching full potential.
The next question was about how families, schools and communities can take actions to advance gender equality and girl’s empowerment. The importance of education was once again stressed along with the significance of girls receiving equal opportunities just like boys. Cultural norms that more often than not hinder equality should be done away with, as they are violent and damaging. The fourth question was about the role of storytelling in encouraging girls to feel “Unscripted and Unstoppable”. Representation was one of the key responses received on this topic as only when girls are represented more, they are able to relate to the various walks of life. The focus was on how stories did not necessarily need to be of success, not asking for perfection was also one of the major aims of girl empowerment. Discussions on how families and communities could take specific actions to support girl empowerment were also carried out. One of the major concerns was how girls are to be respected when they come up with their opinion and instead of shutting them down, it is suggested to listen to their perspectives and how a loving and supporting would also lead to good and safe space for girl empowerment.
The last subject was about how empowering girls would accelerate the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal no 5, “Achieve Gender Equality”. It was opined that empowerment and equality could go hand in hand and it is not the responsibility of a single-gender but that everyone should work towards achieving equality. The 45-minute chat ended with the emphasis on a holistic development that can only be sought after if everyone works for the empowerment of girls even in the smallest way possible.
The Safecity Trinidad and Tobago Team started as a collaborative initiative between members of the UWI Geography Department and Ms Brafit TT. Soon after, they started working on the #PlayitSafe Campaign, engaging the UWI St. Augustine Campus by having a booth on campus for Anti- Street Harassment week. This set up included Safecity App demonstrations, mapping of unsafe areas on campus, and asking the student body to write how they would define harassment.
The team’s second campaign was geared towards promoting safety on campus and spreading the message of the #Playitsafe campaign. For this, the team executed and launched video in March, discussing the campaign and providing safety tips for students on campus and persons partaking in carnival. The campaign also included the Harassment and Violence Campaign, "A Carnival Free from Sexual Violence". Lastly, for Anti-Street Harassment Week 2019, the Buddy Up/ Play it Safe Campaign was developed which is geared towards encouraging students to be each other’s keeper by taking interest in each other’s safety on and off Campus. The team has also extended our services by creating a Buddy service where students can apply for a Buddy to be in or near the vicinity of study locations.
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