The TEARS Foundation (TEARS) has been named a Gold Winner for the use of smart technology in the non-profit or government organisations category in the 20th Annual Stevie International Business Awards (IBAs).
The Stevie IBAs is ranked among the world’s premier business awards programmes.
All individuals and organisations worldwide - public and private, for-profit, and non-profit, large, and small - are eligible to submit nominations.
“Being recognised on a global platform, during Women’s Month, with a Gold Stevie Award is a significant milestone and underscores our commitment to fighting the scourge of gender-based violence. It confirms that we are on the right track and inspires me and my team to work even harder to find inventive ways of responding to survivors of rape and sexual abuse, free of charge ” says Mara Glennie, CEO and founder of TEARS.
Established in 2012, TEARS is an organisation providing access to crisis intervention, advocacy, counselling, and prevention education services to those impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault, and child sexual abuse.
Judges from this year’s competition were overwhelmingly supportive with their comments about the work of TEARS.
Some of the feedback received included the following comments:
- “The organisation’s effective use of localisation and cultural adaptation in marketing was impressive. Outstanding achievements in cross-cultural communication and negotiation.”
- “Offering several great services to people in need.”
- “KUDOS to the TEARS Foundation for supporting women who need help. Using technology to provide maximum and quick support for the needy is commendable. Thank you for being the pillar of support of many women. All the best to bring more awareness among men and women, that sexual abuse is wrong.”
As one of the judges commented, technology has a significant role to play in preventing and combating gender-based violence (GBV) in South Africa.
“Our country is rated as one of the countries with the highest incidence of GBV in the world. With many looking at ways to reduce and eliminate the scourge of violence against women and girls, it remains a complex issue triggered by a myriad of socio-economic factors. Digital transformation is not about technology, it’s about how we leverage smart technology to empower people, enhance awareness and mitigate the user’s risk of becoming a victim. The utilisation of digital tools has assisted TEARS to show tangible impacts in our particular focus area. With the launch of SPEAK UP, TEARS has capitalised on the potential of digital technology and how it can be used more effectively, in novel ways, to assist in combating GBV,” says Glennie.
SPEAK UP, a safe, easily accessible and informative tech-enabled solution, was created by TEARS to enable and provide South African youth with sexual health education on their cellphones and assist users in making informed decisions about their sexual health. “There is currently a huge lack of sexual health education available to South Africa’s youth. While the material is provided to teachers in their life orientation syllabus, most teachers shy away from the topic. It’s not addressed by the parents and guardians either, leaving youth without the critical knowledge they need on topics like consent and sexual health. If our youth are properly educated, from an early age, we hope to see a decrease in these numbers by providing them with the relevant information,” says Glennie.
Another national issue that SPEAK UP aims to address is that of teen pregnancies. “Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga recently declared adolescent pregnancy in South Africa as a national crisis. Watching a young, underage child turn into a mother is heart-breaking. Children need to be children, not birthing them. It’s particularly devastating to learn that many of the girls who gave birth last year were barely teenagers,” says Glennie.
SPEAK UP is an extension of the award-winning TEARS Foundation tool – a free, national 24/7 USSD helpline (*134*7355#) which provides survivors of rape and/or sexual abuse with emergency assistance, through a free call back option and contact information for their closest crisis centers.