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  • Writer's pictureKaddijatou Jallow

Reflecting on Online Activism Against Gender-Based Violence in The Gambia

The internet has become a powerful tool for raising awareness, fostering dialogue, and mobilising communities to address social issues in our increasingly interconnected world. In The Gambia, online activism against gender-based violence has gained momentum in recent years, sparking unprecedented discussions. As the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence approach, Girls Talk Organisation reflects on the landscape of online activism in The Gambia. This reflection includes an examination of past accomplishments, challenges faced, and a look ahead to the future.

Breaking Silence, Amplifying voices

Online activism has emerged as a powerful force in amplifying the voices of survivors and advocates. Utilizing platforms such as blogs, social media campaigns, and online petitions, individuals can share their experiences and demand justice. A notable example is the #IamToufah movement, which not only breaks the silence on rape but also emboldens individuals to speak out against public figures alleged to have abused women and girls. Termed as "The Gambia's 'MeToo' year," this movement has been pivotal in shedding light on the prevalence of gender-based violence and challenging the prevailing culture of silence.

Before #IamToufah, activists like Jaha Dukureh played a crucial role by using online platforms to openly address issues such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Early Marriage in West Africa. Dukureh's advocacy contributed to the ban on FGM in The Gambia by the Jammeh administration, marking a significant milestone in the fight against gender-based violence.

Photo Description: Fatou Jallow, known as Toufah, testifies at the TRRC of The Gambia in 2019.
Fatou Jallow, known as Toufah, testifies at the TRRC of The Gambia in 2019. Photo Credits: Aljazeera Courtesy: TRRC]

Raising Awareness and Changing Perceptions

Online activism serves as a potent tool for raising awareness and challenging societal attitudes towards gender-based violence. Hashtag movements and viral challenges draw attention to the issue, extending conversations beyond the confines of traditional activism. Activists in The Gambia have successfully utilised social media to spark public discourse, challenging cultural norms and fostering a sense of accountability.

The digital realm enables activists to leverage multimedia content effectively. videos, infographics, and interactive materials convey powerful messages that resonate with a diverse audience, breaking down complex issues surrounding gender-based violence. Online activism becomes a catalyst for attitudinal change, challenging societal norms and dismantling structures that perpetuate gender-based violence.

Challenges and Opportunities

Despite its undeniable impact, online activism against gender-based violence in The Gambia faces challenges in the digital frontier. Online trolling and harassment pose significant threats, as the anonymity provided by the internet emboldens harassers. Activists advocating for sensitive issues may encounter abuse, and threats, with real-life consequences. Additionally, misinformation and disinformation can undermine activists' efforts, spreading false narratives.

However, online activism also presents unprecedented opportunities for collaboration and empowerment. The Gambia's civil society has effectively used digital platforms to address sensitive topics impacting women and girls. The interconnected nature of online communities offers a unique opportunity to build alliances, both domestically and internationally.

The Future

In the digital age, online activism against gender-based violence in The Gambia is forging new pathways toward societal change. The power of storytelling, community building, and global collaboration has created a dynamic force challenging the status quo. Reflecting on past achievements, it's crucial to recognize that the journey is ongoing, with each online interaction, campaign, and shared story contributing to the fabric of a more just and equitable society. As The Gambia's digital realm continues to unfold, the fusion of technology and activism holds the potential to reshape the narrative surrounding gender-based violence, paving the way for a future where every voice is heard and every story is a catalyst for change.

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