Connecting Egyptian women to gender-based violence resources via social media during COVID-19
During the COVID-19 pandemic, women—particularly in the Global South—became increasingly exposed to gender-based violence (GBV) and intimate partner violence, due to restrictions on movement, social isolation and economic stress. Given social distancing, women without knowledge of GBV resources were especially vulnerable and less able to access in-person support, highlighting the need for GBV organisations to find alternative ways to connect with them. In particular, previous research has shown that media and “edutainment” (educational entertainment) campaigns can be successful in reducing violence against women.
Egypt has high levels of gender inequality and gender-based violence, ranking 129th out of 153 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Gap Index. As of 2015, 36% of ever-married women between the ages of 15 and 49 in Egypt reported having experienced physical domestic violence, but only one-third sought help and only 18% reported it. A policy intervention evaluation by the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action (J-PAL) was conducted in Egypt to evaluate the impact of disseminating content designed to shift norms around gender-based violence and provide support to survivors via Facebook, WhatsApp and television.
Over 5,000 Egyptian women took part in the J-PAL evaluation, which randomly disseminated short videos in which Aboul Qomsan, the founder of the Egypt Centre for Women's Rights (ECWR), addresses patriarchal norms, emphasises that women are not to blame for violence, encourages friends and family to support survivors and discusses ECWR’s resources. Receiving the videos was found to, in a paper published in August 2023 in Nature, increase women's knowledge of resources available to those experiencing gender-based violence, and their hypothetical and actual use of these resources.