The Indian Cricket Team contributes to My Choices Foundation’s Social Media campaign ‘Respect 2 Protect’

Digital Empowerment Foundation in conversation with Hannah Norling, Head of Marketing and Communications, My Choices Foundation

What was the motivation behind starting the initiative?

Our NGO leadership has long had had a vision to include and champion men in the cause of ending violence against women and girls. This part of our DNA is reflected in the inclusive approach of our programs that invite men to be a part of the process in ending domestic violence in their homes and communities and keeping their girls safe from trafficking. 

Our online campaigns are an extension of this vision.  We had the incredible opportunity to connect with the Indian Cricket team, and ask them to contribute to a campaign. We had a short window of time to execute the plan, but we were already ready with the messaging – we knew that men speaking out about respect for women’s safety, independence, mobility, dreams and capabilities would be phenomenally empowering for women and even more game-changing for men.  Respect2Protect is a campaign for men, by men about how men can be the change. We believe that men are at least 50% of the solution to ending violence against and exploitation of women and girls.

What were the challenges you came across?

This was My Choices Foundation’s first full-fledged digital campaign. We had never been a part of anything like this before. So there was a big learning curve the whole way through, from the production phase to the management phase. We had to learn on the go. What made all the difference was the diligent work of our team that worked in overhaul mode to get things done and volunteers with expertise in digital tools.

The lash back we got from those who disagreed with the campaign was expected, and didn’t amount to enough to actually be considered a challenge.

How are you planning to scale it up?

The scale of our Social Media initiatives will be increased through future campaigns as well as the ongoing, expanding reach of #Respect2Protect. We are already planning our next campaign, again geared towards men and boys, focussing on the role of fathers. Stay tuned!

What does winning SM4E Awards mean to you, and how will you leverage it?

Winning the SM4E Award for Women Empowerment is a very meaningful accolade. We appreciated the prestige of the Grand Jury and the rigor they applied to narrowing on finalists out of so many nominations. This created a confidence in finalists that, if won, the award was indeed a great accolade.

Additionally, the quality of the work and brand of the fellow finalists was further validation of the honour it was to have made it as a finalist. It was particularly interesting because the finalists were a combination of NGOs, government, and corporates alike. It is one thing to stand out among our fellow-resource strapped NGO peers, but to also be recognized along side groups and campaigns with very different organizational structures was particularly exciting.

The Award is an objective confirmation of the quality and impact of our work in the digital sphere. It will certainly help raise our NGO’s public profile and help us in fundraising as well as garnering important partnerships. It is also an impactful way in affirming the good faith of every donor, volunteer and partner of our work who has believed in and championed our work so far.

What did you end up learning from this?

We have just 3 simple tips for anyone planning a campaign for social change.

People are looking for honesty and practicality. If we want to design campaigns that will speak to people, we have to make it simple and to the point in order that it resonates with the truth. Yet, people need more than words. What happens after the initial buy in to the campaign is so important to the longevity of passion, the follow through of getting help, and the completion of transformation. Our campaigns feature different layers of action, and more crucially, offer a recourse to those who need help. Finally, people on social media are desperate for social currency. They desire something special – a new perspective, an influential voice, an unlikely story – to take ownership of and spread among their peers. These three aspects of a campaign are what we have found to be so successful in catalysing meaningful change.