New projects planned and launched, government policies influenced, awards won and taboo-busting discussions facilitated. 2018 was a year of growth for RNW Media’s Citizens’ Voice programme – growth in number of projects, numbers of followers and numbers of interactions. All adding up to growth in impact.
As well as celebrating its fifth anniversary, the Yemen Youth Panel, adopted a new local identity – Manasati30 (Arabic for ‘My Platform’ and for those under 30) and the change in name and look have already stimulated increased audience participation. Our Yemen project also took a big step for our global advocacy aims with the participation of Ruba Mimi, on behalf of the team, in the Yemen Peace Talks hosted by the United Nations in Stockholm. The Yemen team have been leading the way for RNW Media in surfacing data on youth needs and opinions and Ruba was able to bring to the Peace Talks data gathered on young Yemeni’s thoughts on the peace process.
Accessible, engaging, ground breaking
The redesign of the Huna Libya platform enabled it to become more accessible and more engaging for its target audience. Aiming to pave the way for a more inclusive society, a major focus for the local team was championing the rights of women. They broke through norms by introducing Libya’s first female vlogger into the Libyan media landscape. The team also began conducting surveys to gauge young Libyans’ attitudes on social and cultural issues. Participation rose rapidly with 580 responses to the first survey jumping to more than 6,000 later in the year – a 1,000% increase. And a survey on Libyan women in the workforce saw 78% of the responses coming from women – a big increase in female participation.
Awards, campaigns, influence
Congratulations were very much in order for Habari RDC, our platform for the Democratic Republic of Congo. The team of young activists received the Francophone Award for Innovation in Media on 23 March in Paris, with DRC’s Information minister Lambert Mende personally congratulating Habari RDC. In April, came the Index on Censorship‘s 2018 Freedom of Expression Award for Digital Activism. These prestigious awards, both recognising innovation, were international acknowledgement of the ground-breaking nature of Habari RDC’s work.
In Burundi our Yaga platform made news on France 24 for a series of videos on entrepreneurship, showing examples of successful and innovative start-ups created by young Burundians. Yaga’s most successful campaign in 2018 tackled one of Burundi’s most taboo but widely prevalent social issues affecting young people- the use of the drug ‘boost’. The campaign focused on raising awareness of the effects of the drug on young people as well as the society. Since the campaign, the Ministry of Public Security has made the fight against boost a national priority.
June saw the launch of a new Citizens’ Voice platform for Mali – Benbere. The project has rapidly grown its community with almost 60, 000 followers on Facebook and is carving out a reputation as an alternative, credible and inclusive media source in Mali. In October it created a buzz in Spain’s el Pais newspaper which praised its work on encouraging different communities in Mali to come together and participate in debates on everyday but seldomly discussed topics, such as early marriage or ethnic-based disagreements.
After extensive local research and consultations in Egypt, the Citizens’ Voice programme resolved to pilot its first project working on the theme of economic inclusion. The foundations were laid in 2018 including the start-up of a new team. The new platform, to be called Masar@ (meaning ‘pathways’) will be fully launched in early 2019.
Justice4Her —our project in China on rights and gender equality for women migrant workers, began implementing activities co-funded by the European Union in 2018. One of those activities was the creation of a short film about gender based violence ‘Silence Hurts‘. It went on to win the Silver Prize for Best Video at the 8th STDecaux Public Service Awards. The video features a couple arguing in the street and is filmed from the perspective of a stranger passing by, inviting the viewer to ask, “Do I intervene? Do I help?” By following the argument in an outsider’s role, the audience is made aware of how vital it is to help those affected. The video has been viewed more than 500,000 times, and its hashtag #更好的women# reached over four million views on Chinese social media channels.
The successes of 2018 have been generated by the hard work and dedication of local, country-based teams. Working in difficult, often dangerous circumstances, in countries where those who raise their voices may be putting themselves at risk, the young women and men who drive our Citizens’ Voice platforms and communities are RNW Media’s People of the Year.