Gender based violence is a gross violation of human rights. As we approach International Human Rights Day, it is critical that we raise awareness around gender-based violence messages in the media and examine how NGOs and CSOs are helping to improve gender- based violence communication campaigns. The Media Monitoring Project (MMP) and the Southern African Media and Gender Institute (SAMGI) have embarked on an exciting regional project to improve communication strategies on gender-based violence.

Empowering Messages: Getting the best out of NGOs educational material in the struggle against gender-based violence targets non-governmental (NGOs) and civil society organisations (CSOs) that distribute media messages on gender-based violence. The primary aim of this initiative is to gain an understanding of the types of messages that are distributed on gender based violence; ascertain the target audiences of these media messages; and evaluate their effectiveness.

Ten organisations from South Africa and Namibia were selected to participate in the Empowering Messages project. The long term goal of the project is to develop implementation guidelines which will encourage best practice around gender based violence communication campaigns. The empowering messages project will improve the research base within the region, and build the capacity of NGOs and CSOs in order to encourage more strategic decision–making around gender based violence communication campaigns.

Civil society plays an important role in improving gender based violence communication campaigns and adequately addressing this social problem. The Empowering Messages project will make a clear and positive contribution to building a society that promotes and respects the rights to dignity and equality. Through the encouragement of best practice and appropriately targeted media, the project will support women’s empowerment, specifically in combating gender based violence.