Media Pushes To Eradicate Violence Against Women & Children in Shinyanga
25 July 2023
Media play a pivotal role in fighting violence against Women and Children, becoming the voice for the voiceless, pushing for change, and quick decision-making measures by government leaders on policies and laws to curb the problem.
Shinyanga, for a long time, has been rocked by challenges such as poor understanding by the community on issues of violence, especially against women and children. On the other hand, members of the community lack confidence and correct ways of reporting violence to relevant authorities, a move that worsens the situation.
It is in this regard that the Shinyanga Press Club under the Women Fund Tanzania Trust (WFT-T) funding, implemented a project to promote the role of the media in eradicating violence against women and children.
Explaining the project, Estomine Hendry (Project Coordinator) said the project which was implemented in all the wards of the Shinyanga District Council was aimed at educating the community to identify various ways of reporting and keeping evidence of abuse to help the law enforcement agencies to conduct their work effectively.
He added that the project was also focused on providing education on violence as the community does not have enough understanding about it due to traditions and customs that encourage the social anomaly on women and children.
"In the implementation of this project, some of the strategies applied involved using the media to educate communities in Shinyanga Region and other areas about violence; Using experts in training journalists on issues pertaining to violence; supporting journalists so that they can collect information and report through their media outlets issues pertaining to violence against women and children. We also introduced the team of journalists to all relevant stakeholders," Estomine said.
He also added that through these strategies the project was able to reach and educate 1,327 people (704F and 623M).
Regarding the success of the project, Estomine said reports and news on violence against women and children in Shinyanga District have continued to increase, where we have had 290 newspaper articles, and 24 radio programs about incidents of violence that were broadcast and published through various media.
Similarly, the project has helped to increase the relationship between citizens and journalists, thus leading to an increase in the reporting of incidents of violence to the media.
"Currently, if community members hear any incident of violence, they quickly contact us because they know that the issue will be reported and decision makers will hear about it,” said Abeid, a journalist from Shinyanga.
Regarding journalists’ understanding of violence issues, Estomine said the project has helped them gain more understanding of feminism and VAWC in general. This has led journalists to set and own the agenda in collaboration with other stakeholders.
"Due to increase in our journalists’ knowledge in covering stories about women and children, especially in peripheral areas, some journalists from Shinyanga Region have won national and international awards for these stories," explained Estomine.
The project has also helped the government to recognize the power of the media in fighting violence against women and children and cooperation with government officials such as social welfare officers has increased.
On the other hand, the project has helped by availing equipment that support journalists in their work such as cameras, and press jackets. This has led to an increase in the efficiency of their work.
As a result of the increase in media reports on violence, the community in Msengwa ward has enacted bylaws to deal with acts of violence. Also, some girls have returned to school, and parents and guardians have gained awareness to send children to school. Children have been given the right to use their Junior Councils and other structures to report incidents of violence.
Similarly, media reports have helped the government and stakeholders to implement/provide basic social services that meet the needs of marginalized women and children such as water, health, electricity, communication projects, construction of police stations to help cases of violence, increasing the motivation of women to get involved in economic activities.
The project has also helped to establish a network of journalists against violence (TAJOGEV), which until now has 95 members. The goal is to join forces with other stakeholders and increase the scope of their work.
**“We can say that this project has contributed towards the willingness of government leaders to make the VAWC agenda a priority. We have witnessed them using their platforms to talk about this agenda”. **