In support of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), Vodacom hosted its annual Walk for South Africans to take a stand against GBV last week Friday. The event took place virtually and had participants from different locations dedicating their walk to the campaign.
“Vodacom remains committed to the ongoing fight against GBV. Through this event, we want to not only raise awareness about this ill plaguing our society but mobilise communities across the country toactively participate in the fight to eradicate violence against women and other vulnerable groups in society, including children, the elderly and people with disabilities and LGBTQI+ individuals,” says Takalani Netshitenzhe, External Affairs Director for Vodacom South Africa.
From data in the latest Trialogue Business in Society Handbook, 51% of South African women admit to having experienced GBV, while 30% have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. There has also been a staggering 60% rise in the number of teen pregnancies since the start of the pandemic. The publication highlights that GBV costs the country R28 billion a year, equivalent to 1% of the GDP.
Vodacom Foundation has recently launched the #SeeRedFlags campaign to help women recognise the harmful behaviours of abusive partners and encourage them to seek help. This where technology can play a powerful part in preventing GBV and supporting its survivors. Vodacom’s zero-rated Bright Sky app is an example of the impact mobile technology can have. This app is free to download for users, instantly connecting them with support and educational services. Bright Sky is also accessible to users without a smartphone or internet connection. Thanks to a USSD protocol, users on any cell phone can dial *120*4004# to give them inclusive access to Bright Sky’s services.
Another way Vodacom leverages technology is through its GBV Command Centre (GBVCC), established in partnership with the Department of Social Development Department. The 24-hour, toll-free GBVCC call centre is managed by trained government-employed social workers, who can connect callers with police and social workers in an emergency. The GBVCC also provides a digital literacy empowerment programme for GBV survivors.
“Digital technology can have a positive impact in this GBV crisis that we are facing within our country, but it’s not enough if we don’t come together as government, industry players and the public to address the urgent need for change in how vulnerable citizens are treated. This is why we are calling for everyone to join in the fight against GBV through initiatives such as the Walk for Good and digital services like the Bright Sky app,” adds Netshitenzhe.