Nobel Women’s Initiative reaches 1.6 million Canadians in campaign to end rape as a weapon of war

On the heels of an alarming new international study that found that an estimated 48 women are raped in the Congo every minute, the Nobel Women’s Initiative launched a major organizing and media campaign to push the international community, including Canada, to do more to protect women in wars around the world.

Central to the project was a sophisticated mainstream media, and social media, publicity campaign, resulting in coverage in newspapers with a combined circulation of 1.6 million Canadians, according to FPInfomart.ca. The earned media’s equivalent advertising value was an estimated $98,000.

The organization, which was founded in 2006 by Nobel Peace Prize recipient Jody Williams and five other Nobel Laureates, is based in Ottawa. Last week they held their annual international conference in Montebello, Quebec, bringing together experts and survivors to map out plans to confront sexual violence during armed conflict. A special session for decision makers and opinion leaders following the conference was held in downtown Ottawa.

Members of the organization’s communications team, with support from the Rideau Institute, met personally with journalists who had demonstrated an interest in the issue previously, to suggest coverage and story elements. In addition, they developed a Canadian political angle to the story that won the attention of leading TV political programs such as CBC’s Power and Politics and CTV’s PowerPlay, while CPAC recorded their public event for broadcast in its entirety later.

The resulting coverage exceeded expectations, including a three-page feature in the Ottawa Citizen’s weekend edition, a double-page “Folio” feature in the Globe and Mail, and supportive editorials from four newspapers: the Ottawa Citizen, Vancouver Sun, the Saskatoon Star Phoenix, and the Victoria Times Colonist.

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