This article was originally posted here on the GSMA Mobile for Development blog.
Violence against women and girls is one of the world’s most prevalent human rights violations. Worldwide an estimated one in three women will experience physical or sexual abuse in their lifetime. Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) undermines its survivors’ health, dignity, security, and autonomy, yet it remains shrouded in a culture of silence. The GSMA Mobile for Humanitarian Innovation Programme together with Alight Rwanda, Viamo, and Peripheral Vision International have partnered to create educational content, addressing SGBV-related issues in refugee camps.
Wanji Games takes Interactive Voice Response (IVR) content further by creating an engaging, interactive narrative-based audio game that can be accessed through mobile phones. This is the platform used by our joint initiative. This approach makes content accessible to end users who may not have access to smartphones, stable electricity, or internet connectivity. The audio-based game also allows communities with low literacy levels to access the content in an accessible format. This strategy transforms educational themes into entertaining and relatable context-specific stories with multiple possible outcomes. The games embed scripts into audio games using real-life scenarios where users make choices and learn along the way. Each time the caller plays a game, they are exposed to up to ten key messages aimed at enhancing their learning and understanding. At the end of each gamified pathway, the user is provided with the details of Alight’s SGBV support hotline that they can call (privately) for support or request to be called back. Alight’s trained SGBV staff can then handle the query directly as per their internal SGBV support protocols.
In 2018, Alight Rwanda, with support from UNFPA, established an anonymous 24-hour toll-free line to respond to and prevent sexual and gender-based violence and ran a pilot at Rwanda’s Mahama refugee camp. The aim was to involve camp communities in the fight against SGBV and other forms of violence by ensuring early reporting to the concerned authorities. The COVID-19 outbreak escalated SGBV gaps, limiting access to GBV prevention and response services. During lockdowns, the hotline became a vital service that enabled remote case management, was a channel to follow up with survivors and enabled a platform for providing crucial assistance. The hotline has played a critical role in connecting refugee communities to the Alight-run SGBV services.
The project aims to address negative gender attitudes that lead to SGBV, clarify misconceptions regarding gender, increase reporting of abuse to the Alight hotline and help women and girls feel safer in their communities by providing them with a virtual safe space. The intervention also addresses the physical and mental health impact experienced by sexual and gender-based violence survivors and helps encourage male survivors to report abuse.
Alight, Viamo and PVI identified knowledge gaps, cultural attitudes, and trends relating to SGBV and built gamified content on this basis. Key messages are captured into interactive audio stories which users can access in their local language – in this case, statements are in Kinyarwanda, spoken across Rwanda, including by refugees in the country. Users navigate a world in which they are presented with SGBV information which require the player to deliberate and choose a course of action. Using the keypad of their mobile phone, players can make decisions that influence the story and understand the potential consequences of their actions. Deep analytics generated by interactions with the Viamo platform can be visualised using user data generated every time the game is played and can be used to measure and quantify learning objectives.
The game can also enhance information sharing across the refugee camps, giving the target population much greater access to educational materials and allowing that information to circulate much faster. Gamified learning pathways can become a key tool used by humanitarian actors to generate data based on simulated behaviour and knowledge gaps and work with communities to facilitate behaviour change and knowledge transfer.
GSMA Mobile for Humanitarian Innovation Programme works to deliver safe and dignified mobile-enabled services in humanitarian contexts, and values the partnership with Alight Rwanda, Viamo, and Peripheral Vision International to deliver services that raise/ increase awareness, prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based issues.
 ‘Gender-based Violence’ UNFPA, accessed 4 November 2022, https://www.unfpa.org/gender-based-violence
THIS INITIATIVE IS CURRENTLY FUNDED BY THE UK FOREIGN, COMMONWEALTH & DEVELOPMENT OFFICE (FCDO), AND SUPPORTED BY THE GSMA AND ITS MEMBERS.