Signing a petition via SMS

One of the earliest, if not the earliest, uses of mobile technology in social campaigning was in the promotion of women rights in Africa, carried out by Fahamu and SOAWR in 2004. Supporters were asked to express their support for this campaign using their mobile phones for the first time.

In 2004, Fahamu joined forces with SOAWR - the Solidarity with African Women's Rights NGO - to promote the ratification of the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, a piece of international legislation drawn up to guarantee the rights of African women. More traditional electronic media was used to support the campaign, such as email news via Fahamu's Pambazuka newsletter and a dedicated website. In addition, a South African mobile phone number was set up, with supporters encouraged to text the word 'PETITION', along with their names, to signal their support for ratification.

Incoming messages were converted to email and an up-to-date list of signatories was displayed on the campaign website.

Fahamu have since run a second campaign, this time in support of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty - GCAP - which calls for the cancellation of African debt. This campaign was more widely known for its use of white wrist bands.