#IWD2023 Series: “I have learnt that a safe space can be anywhere you want it to be.”

07 March 2023 | Contraception | by Nduta Waweru

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we interviewed three young women who have adopted digital platforms including social media to advocate for young people’s access to sexual reproductive health information and services including contraceptives.  

Meet Nelly Awino from Community Mentorship And Empowerment Initiative in Kisumu county. She is advocating for a safe digital space for the youth, girls and women.

What led you to use digitalization (Social media) to advocate for sexual and reproductive health?  

Most young people spend much of their time on social media. Therefore, instead of waiting for them to make the first move to seek information, I use social media to bring the information to them. To a place where they are most comfortable and can interact freely and voluntarily; a place where they are not shy to speak what is on their minds for fear of recognition and judgment. Social media gives me the freedom to use a language that best suits them and relates to them easily. 

What has been your experience so far using digital spaces as a tool for advocacy/creating awareness?  

The experience is great because I can interact with individuals with different ideas. It has helped me build meaningful relationships and collaborations with my target audience to help in behaviour change. Social media advocacy has also allowed individuals to contribute to participatory dialogue, bring attention to arising issues and create solutions together as a community. 

What lessons have you learnt while using technology (social media) to advocate for SRHR I have learnt to always do proper research before posting something or replying. 

I have learnt that a safe space can be anywhere you want it to be. Just like any other place, social media is a safe space for most youths, girls and women where they feel comfortable and not vulnerable. The youths need SRHR information, but they do not know where to get it or are too embarrassed to seek this information. Advocacy through social media is participatory; there’s free interaction, and its where the youths feel in control. 

How can the society make it better for girls and women to use technology/Digital spaces/Internet? 

The society, including girls and women, should be trained in digital literacy to help everyone understand how to support girls and women to stay safe online. There should also be formalised policies and regulations from the government, law enforcement and social media companies to prevent digital harm and protect users against online risks (cyber bullying, cyber stalking, online harassment). This will ensure there are legal frameworks for online safeguarding and security for girls and women. 

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