Gender-­based violence (GBV)

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Gender-based violence (GBV), primarily against women, is a pervasive, global phenomenon affecting both developed and developing countries. Over 35% of the world’s female population has experienced gender-based violence at some point in their lives (World Health Organization, 2013). According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) , “GBV is a serious public health concern that also impedes the crucial role of women and girls in development.”

However, anti-GBV sentiment is not universal. While a United Nations campaign acknowledges GBV as a societal problem, prevalence is very difficult to assess. The European Union’s council report on GBV highlighted a persistent lack of comparable data across regions and over time , hampering both assessment and mitigation. Both the UNFPA and the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights seek better data sourcing and policy design. Traditional GBV monitoring methods face many challenges. Gathering statistics on GBV episodes is time consuming, collected under non-standardized protocols, and published in highly aggregated form.

Social media provide a faster, cheaper and face-valid means to engage the public, providing unprecedented large-scale access to public views and behavior. It provides an ability to monitor attitudes in near real-time, to support timely mitigation efforts. While use of social media give advantages with regards to speed (velocity), in some case participation, broad sourcing and lower cost, studies cannot be tightly controlled with specific statistical sampling, availability of demographic data may be limited or language use can skew coverage. Ultimately all three resources (formal reports, surveys, and social media) require integration in order to assist policy design, prioritize attention for interventions, and design region-specific programs to curb GBV. A logical first step is to understand what social media offer for GBV monitoring and the design of mitigation and policy. In this project we assess the role of social media (data from Twitter) to identify public views related to GBV, and tweeting practices by geography, time, gender, and events to inform concerned parties and assist GBV policy design.

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