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October 2023

What Works for Conflict- and Gender-Sensitive Media Campaigns

Introduction

Media campaigns are powerful tools for raising awareness and disseminating messages related to peace and conflict resolution; however, historically gender and conflict sensitivity has not always been considered by implementers when designing campaigns. This case study shares best practices in implementing conflict- and gender-sensitive media campaigns. This case study is based on Search for Common Ground’s experience of running two extensive media campaigns across Central Asia.

International development, peacebuilding, and humanitarian organizations and other practitioners are increasingly using media campaigns as part of their programming. Media campaigns are powerful tools for spreading information, raising awareness, and disseminating messages related to peace and conflict resolution. In conflict-affected regions, access to accurate and timely information is often limited, making media campaigns a valuable means of reaching diverse audiences. Yet, how gender mainstreaming and conflict sensitivity can be implemented in media campaigns has not yet been sufficiently documented and illustrated around the world. There is a pressing need for practical, real-world case studies and best practices to guide organizations in their efforts.

With this in mind, Search for Common Ground’s (Search) Kyrgyzstan team and Search’s Institutional Learning Team developed this case study to share best practices in implementing conflict- and gender-sensitive media campaigns. This case study is based on Search’s experience of running two extensive media campaigns across Central Asia.

Most recently, Search’s Kyrgyzstan team ran two extensive media campaigns as part of the TaasirLink project and National Women's Business Agenda. TaasirLink aimed at involving vulnerable youth in combating violent extremism in Kyrgyzstan, while the National Women's Business Agenda initiative focused on advancing women's entrepreneurship and dismantling gender stereotypes in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. This agenda was implemented under the Women and Girls Empowered (WAGE) consortium’s work. To account for the deeply interconnected nature of women’s and girls’ experiences, WAGE’s initiatives employ approaches that are highly collaborative, integrated, and inclusive. WAGE is funded by the U.S. Department of State Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues and implemented initiatives across 10 different countries by core partners including the American Bar Association-Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI), Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), Grameen Foundation and Search for Common Ground (Search).

Despite the sensitive nature of these themes, the campaigns achieved resounding success in terms of engaging a wide audience, while considering both gender dynamics and the unique context of conflict.

The TaasirLink project successfully engaged a substantial audience, accumulating 14,000 social media followers and directly reaching over 250,000 individuals across the designated locations. The final evaluation of the media campaign showed that 75% of the project participants confirmed that the media campaign had contributed to their personal development and more than 60% of participants improved fact-checking and critical thinking skills in their lives.

The National Women's Business Agenda under the Women and Girls Empowered (WAGE) project achieved an even more significant online presence, accumulating a total of over 25,000 social media followers. These followers were distributed as follows: Kyrgyzstan (15,900), Kazakhstan (4,062), Tajikistan (2,156), and Uzbekistan (2,872). In total, the media campaign for this project reached over 5 million individuals across four countries. The final evaluation of the project showed that the media campaign was able to shift the views of people on female entrepreneurship. 79% of the audience that consumed WAGE’s media content reported that they now perceive women in business more positively than they did previously. Moreover, they shared that the media campaign made them want to start their own business, with 45% of the audience reporting their plans to start their own small business within a year. The media campaign inspired women to start their own business and shifted public opinion to more positive perceptions of women in business.

Gender- and conflict-sensitive approaches enhance the effectiveness of media campaigns by ensuring that communication strategies are inclusive, respectful, and empathetic, thereby promoting understanding and unity in diverse and conflict-prone contexts. Our team believes that these media campaigns were successful in large part because we adopted the tactics of gender- and conflict-sensitive media campaigns. In what follows, we share the key steps we followed. We hope that our discussion and the illustrations provide insight to you as you launch and run a campaign that informs, engages, and inspires action, ultimately contributing to a more equitable and peaceful world.

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    The Board of Governors of the American Bar Association (ABA) has neither reviewed nor sanctioned its content. Accordingly, the views expressed in the report should not be construed as representing the policy of the ABA. Furthermore, nothing contained in this report is to be considered rendering legal advice for specific cases, and readers are responsible for obtaining such advice from their own legal counsel. All opinions, findings, and conclusions stated herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the United States Government, WAGE, or any members of the WAGE consortium.

    Authors: Myrzagul Baialieva & Aisalkyn Botoeva
    Reviewers: Rachel Walsh Taza & Laurent Kasindi

    ABOUT WAGE

    Women and Girls Empowered (WAGE) is a global consortium dedicated to advancing the status of women and girls. It is led by the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) in close partnership with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), Grameen Foundation, and Search for Common Ground (Search). WAGE's primary mission is to enhance the capacity of civil society organizations and private sector organizations (PSOs) in target countries. This is done to improve the prevention of and response to gender-based violence, promote the women, peace, and security agenda, and support women's economic empowerment. In this context, WAGE provides direct assistance to women and girls, offering them the information, resources, and services they need to succeed as active and equal participants in the global economy and public life.

    WAGE also engages in collaborative research and learning to build a body of evidence regarding promising practices in these thematic areas. Recognizing the deeply interconnected nature of women's and girls' experiences, WAGE's initiatives employ highly collaborative, integrated, and inclusive approaches. The consortium is funded by the U.S. Department of State Secretary's Office of Global Women's Issues (S/GWI).

    This document was funded by a grant from the United States Department of State. The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the author[s] and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.