Women'sNet South Africa

Women'sNet South Africa

Women'sNet, a South African NGO is involved in the following activities:

1. A campaign to get 2 national lines a free call from a cellphone (more below)

2. a workshop and event for girls (more below)

3. An SMS campaign with a Ugandan organisation:

WOUGNET - 1. Calling for help: Make the Stop Gender Violence and AIDS Helplines a Free Call from Cellphones! (petition ends 12 December 2007) Women’sNet, Gender Links and Nisaa join LifeLine Southern Africa to call on Cell-C, Vodacom, Virgin Mobile and MTN to make essential national helplines a free call from a cellphone. LifeLine Southern Africa (a registered non profit organisation), who run these services, receive up to 700 calls a day on the Stop-Gender-Violence Helpline, and up to 3000 on the AIDS Helpline. During the annual 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women* campaign, traffic to these helplines doubles. Women from all over the country seek help, support and referrals to other services. LifeLine Southern Africa manages both these helplines. Calling these numbers from a Telkom landline is free, but not from a cellphone. 2 out of 3 South Africans have cell phones; at least 45% of cell phones users are female; 1 in every 3 South African women is abused, and more than half of all South Africans live under the poverty line This means that it is too expensive for millions of people who have a cellphone but can not access a Telkom phone to call these valuable helplines. Millions of women cannot access counselling assistance because of cellphone costs.

Claudia Lopes from Rural Education, Awareness and Community Health (REACH) says: “Many of our farm working women have cellphones but having the finances to buy airtime on a regular basis is virtually impossible considering that many women farm workers are only employed during harvesting season and they cannot always rely on their husbands or male partners for financial support. As a volunteer Lifeline counsellor I know how often I have received calls where a completely distraught sounding woman calls begging for me to call her back because she doesn't have airtime more often than not the connection is terminated before she even finishes her sentence. We welcome this petition with open arms and we implore all to do the same!” We call on our mobile service providers to allow cellphone users to call the Stop Gender Violence Helpline and the AIDS Helpline at no cost (zero-rated call). Let us make sure that help is really only a cell/phone call away. Every signature makes a difference! send your friends this link, and view comments at: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/make-the-stop-gender-violence-and-aids-... For more information, email: sallys@womensnet.org.za

2. Girls Against Violence On the 7th to 12th December, 2007, Girls’Net in partnership with ActionAid Women’s Rights Programme will be hosting a six day workshop with the theme “Girls against Violence”. The focus of the workshop will be to promote the use of writing skills – writing as an act of self representation by girls, as opposed to others representation of girls. This training will enable girls to write their own stories and bring in new perspectives in the fight against gender based violence, particularly violence against girls. The act of writing and documenting by girls will enhance the different national strategies aimed at developing young women and girls-for the process affords us-the community, policy makers-the opportunity to hear what the girls think on matters that affect them. The girls will use new media opportunities such as the Girls’Net newsletter (GIST) and the Girls’Net website, to publish their voices. Thematic areas of focus will be gender based violence, particularly those forms of violence that affect and are perpetrated against girls. Integrated in the workshop is a public event where girls between the ages of 15 to 20 will be able to present their views to stakeholders in girls rights issues. Each girl will have a chance to speak on the points raised during discussions in the workshop by the participating girls. Platform of presentation include podium speaking to invited guests, creative presentation with the help of Artist Proof Studio and publishing of articles in the Girls’Net newsletter which will be available electronically and in print soon after the workshop. 23 girl delegates from seven provinces will attend the workshop. They have been selected on the basis of their individual youth development initiatives in their community and having demonstrated interest in women and girls rights programmes. We are confident they will be able to articulate issues that affect many girls and young women in our country. The workshop will be held at the Women’sNet office in Johannesburg. The public event will be on the 10th of December at MuseumAfrica, strategically set on the Human Rights Day. The 3 days prior to the public event will serve to prepare the participating girls and young women on relevant topics to strengthen the nature of their participation in - and benefit from – the public event. Girls will also begin to focus on developing material for the publication. The 2 days after the public event will be spent on putting the publication together so as to have a newsletter that will communicate the views raised during the workshop, and form a basis to further the “girls writing about girls” agenda. more: lerato@womensnet.org.za

3. http://www.wougnet.org/Alerts/speakoutgenderviolence.html

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