BE SMART! BE SAFE!
MULTIMEDIA CAMPAIGN IN GEORGIA
In 2000 WomenAid launched ‘Be Smart! Be Safe!, a multi-media anti-trafficking prevention and protection campaign in Georgia. Largely funded by WomenAid International, the project was awarded partial funding through an IOM small grant programme.
WomenAid approaches the issue of trafficking with a
long-term strategy to build and sustain public debate on the issue.
WomenAid has developed and is
applying its ‘Network Platform Concept’ to civil society
development projects to encourage and maintain cross-sector sustainable dialogue
between government, law enforcement bodies, human rights and women’s NGOs,
media, and health and education professionals, thereby facilitating
The Network Platforms, combined with Round Table
Dialogues, contribute to policy reform, gender sensitive development and support
empowerment of women by creating the connecting link at national, regional and
international levels on critical issues involving or concerning women.
The Network Platform mechanism is viewed by WomenAid as an effective way
of involving government officials and senior representatives drawn from all
sectors of society in an informed and sustained cross-dialogue on critical
issues. The Network Platform also
acts as a ‘knowledge bank’ as it supplies reliable information to key
stakeholders – who for various reasons may be unable to easily access such
information and data.
Network Platform mechanism has proved successful in providing an opportunity for
all key stakeholders to be ‘involved and engaged’ in sustained
cross-cutting dialogue that creates an impetus for change and defines in greater
detail the resource needs of those involved in policy reforms.
In this manner the issue-specific Network Platforms provide a useful
mechanism for the open discussion of problems and obstacles in the delivery of
services and implementation of policy. The
gaps in services and need for state policy and legislative reform are brought to
the agenda with greater transparency.
The only official document in Georgia that
mentions trafficking is ‘Order 64 of the President of Georgia and Action Plan
on Combating Violence Against Women’. WomenAid therefore used this document as
a basis for encouraging the Georgian government commitment to support a
multi-media anti-trafficking campaign and further efforts to end violence
against women. Many officials were not aware of Order #64 and certainly the
majority had no understanding of the term ‘trafficking’ so during the
implementation of the project, awareness of Presidential Order #64
was extensively promoted.
Unfortunately, in many countries promotion of efforts to combat trafficking has been too readily perceived as a ‘women’s issue’, especially when awareness is ‘promoted’ mainly by women’s organizations. WomenAid shares the broader view, increasingly recognized globally, that the issue has to be brought to the very centre of the growing global commitment to ‘all human rights for all people of all countries’. In Georgia it was essential that the complex issue of trafficking be introduced to the public through a broad based cross-sectoral platform and for the proposed anti-trafficking Network Platform to become recognized as a reliable resource of informed and accurate data on both trafficking and on the wider issue of violence in all its forms.
Pida Ripley, the Founder of WomenAid International gave strategic support at the start of the project and during her visit to Georgia meetings were arranged with key government officials to obtain support and commitment for the aim of the project. This was followed with extensive meetings with senior representatives of larger non-governmental organizations, the press and media, senior police, education and healthcare officials, all of whom were invited to participate in the development of the Network, via Round Table Discussions and issue-specific Network Platforms. This greatly assisted subsequent implementation activities as those who would be positively helpful were clearly identified.
The aim of the planned ‘issue-specific’ series of Round Table Dialogues and Network Platform meetings was to introduce the complex issue of trafficking and provide extensive documentation and briefings to encourage the development of (1) a ‘common understanding’ of the problems posed by trafficking activities, and (2) a national coordinated approach to the development of appropriate prevention and protection strategies, the improvement of data collection methodologies and the provision of appropriate support for victims.
The innovative approach developed by WomenAid has successfully led to the establishment of a National Anti-Trafficking Network Platform, drawing together over 90 representatives from Georgian government departments, the media, law enforcement/police, UN agencies, international, regional and local organisations.
All participants in project Network Platforms, Round Table Dialogues and Task groups were provided with relevant documentation and given a very full briefing on the aim of the project, with emphasis on the need for a broad based input to develop a successful multi-media campaign strategy and the development of counter-strategies. Georgian government representatives and departmental staff evidenced great willingness to participate and welcomed the opportunity to engage in real debate with the NGO community and other sectors of civil society.
DEVELOPING SAFETY GUIDELINES
An essential part of WomenAid’s Be Smart! Be Safe! anti-trafficking programme was the development of government-endorsed safety guidelines to provide vital information on the way trafficking gangs work and how those young girls and women most at risk can protect themselves. The Network Platform members developed and approved the Be Smart! Be Safe! final guidelines which were then printed in leaflet form. Be Smart! Be Safe! posters were also printed. Various ministries of the Georgian government have subsequently asked WomenAid to distribute over three hundred thousand of the WomenAid Be Smart! Be Safe! anti-trafficking information leaflets throughout the country. WomenAid is currently negotiating further funding for this project.
SUPPORT FROM THE MEDIA
Another successful WomenAid initiative was the gathering together of professionals working in the press, TV and radio sectors and the establishment of a Media Advocacy Platform through which they would use their skills and opportunities to actively support the development of civil society by focusing on issues of critical concern. The Georgian press and media, absolutely essential partners in any effort to increase public awareness, have also been very willing to collaborate and have engaged in open and wide-ranging dialogue. Consequently extensive media coverage was obtained through the support of all the press, radio and TV channels in the country.
After five months of planning, the “Be Smart! Be Safe!” anti-trafficking multi-media campaign was successfully launched on 19 September 2000 at a national conference. The campaign included public service announcements on TV and radio and several television and radio phone-in talk shows featured programmes that focused on the causes and threats posed by traffickers. The Georgian government supported the campaign and authorized the WomenAid “Be Smart! Be Safe!” Public Service Advertisement (PSA) to be broadcast on the official state television and radio channels four times daily for a period of one month.
The first phase of the multi-media anti-trafficking campaign ended in late October 2000, but to maintain the momentum of public and press interest, WomenAid linked the Be Smart! Be Safe! multimedia campaign to a second multi-media campaign, '16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence' (25 November – 10 December). To manage this second campaign, WomenAid International once again initiated and organised another national coordination body, consisting of over 60 representatives drawn from over 35 Georgian NGOs, as well as relevant INGOs, UN agencies and Government departments and ministries. The first Georgian 16 days of Activism Against Gender Violence was launched on 25 November with a press conference marking the first UN Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. During the 16 Days, there was intense media and press coverage and the campaign culminated with a conference on 'Gender Violence and Human Rights in Georgia' that was held on 10 December, Human Rights Day, attended by over a hundred participants.
Once again the press and media were active supporters
and participants and both multi-media campaigns, spanning almost three months,
were highly successful as both the positive and practical support given by the
press and media generated wide public interest. Both campaigns are positioned as annual events, enabling and
strengthening civil society development and ensuring consolidation of successful
WomenAid has been very encouraged at the extremely positive approach taken by the Georgian Government representatives from various ministries and departments. For example, the Georgian Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation has subsequently included WomenAid initiatives and strategies within the approved Plan of Activities of the Ministry regarding the National Action Plan on Combating Violence against Women 2000 – 2002. This action plan specifically states there will be further collaboration with WomenAid in addressing the issue of trafficking in Georgia. This collaboration will include the distribution of the WomenAid, government-supported “Be Safe, Be Smart!” leaflet to all refugees and IDPs, and sensitisation training of government officials. Other relevant ministries and institutions have also participated and collaborated in the activities of this first national multi-media anti-trafficking campaign and have expressed similar interest in proceeding with broader and deeper partnership with WomenAid on anti-trafficking initiatives.
Information and awareness campaigns are an essential part of counter-trafficking strategies and the Network Platform mechanism has proved successful as a coordinating mechanism. The members of the National Anti-Trafficking Network Platform continue to develop appropriate protection, prevention and prosecution strategies, identify and promote necessary legislative reform. WomenAid International-Caucasus continues its anti-trafficking work supporting the Network Platform and planning the Be Smart! Be Safe! 2001 multimedia awareness campaign and further anti-trafficking initiatives in the region.
information contact: BeSmart@womenaid.org
A UK ANTI -TRAFFICKING NETWORK PLATFORM
WomenAid is building on the experience it has gained developing a national anti-trafficking network platform in Georgia and has now initiated a UK Anti-Trafficking Network Platform (UKAT). This is viewed as a necessary and welcome initiative in the struggle to implement effective legislation leading to successful prosecution of traffickers and provision of appropriate support for victims.
In the global battle against the biggest human rights abuse in the world – trafficking of people – WomenAid is developing a unique position as an NGO working in both recipient and originating countries as well as being a leading advocate for the rights of women.