Zika looms on the Rio Olympics, but sheds light on an even larger issue – women’s rights

By Alexandra DeMatos

Summer 2016 – Communications Intern

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Tomorrow the 2016 Summer Olympics will begin in Rio, Brazil. The country will be the host to countless visitors and the world’s best athletes – if they choose to attend. Many have decided to opt out of this summer’s Olympics due to the looming threat of the Zika virus throughout South America, which is extremely prevalent in Brazil. Rio de Janeiro, home of the Olympics, is the area that is the most plagued with the virus.

In late April, Brazil released a report that analyzed the statistics of the Zika virus all throughout Brazil, with Rio housing the worst concentration of Zika cases in the country – more than 1 in 4 of the 90,000 reported cases in the first quarter of the year. With 157 per 100,000 people in Rio being infected with the virus, Rio has three times the national average. The threat for outsiders and athletes is easily avoidable, but for the poor residents of Rio leaving is not necessarily an option. For women, the threat is even greater.

The Zika virus is most often spread in one of three ways: the bite of an infected mosquito, sex with an infected man or childbirth. While infections in adults often show no symptoms, if a woman is infected while pregnant, there can be severe consequences. Children born from a mother that is infected with the Zika virus may have a serious birth defect known as “microcephaly,” which results in the baby having a smaller head and brain than expected due to improper development, along with seizures, developmental delay, intellectual disability, hearing loss, vision problems and so on. As the link between the two became more obvious the government of Brazil shared its words of wisdom: don’t get pregnant.

To many, this piece of advice is incomprehensible. Brazil has some of the strictest abortion laws in the world, is extremely lacking in sexual education and lacks contraceptive access, particularly for the poor. Abortion is allowed only in cases of rape, a threat to the mother’s life or in cases of anencephaly (when the fetus is missing parts of the brain). This issue of microcephaly has become so profound that even Pope Francis was swayed into saying that contraceptives would be the “lesser evil” in the fight against Zika.

The women who live in “favelas,” referred to as “impoverished or overcrowded areas” by the World Health Organization (WHO), are at the greatest risk of having a baby born with microcephaly. One in 5 of the residents in Rio live in favelas, which lack basic sanitation, which Marcelo Firpo of Brazil’s National School of Public Health says is the number one factor behind the spread of the mosquito, Aedes aegypti, which spreads Zika (as well as chikungunya and dengue fever). Unlike favelas, which are often riddled with garbage dumps and raw sewage, the well-off cities and neighborhoods in Brazil have an exponentially lower number of cases of Zika, and little to no cases of microcephaly. Highlighting severe economic disparity in the country and a difference, which can also be contributed to the better health care available to those of better means.

As long as Zika thrives in Brazil, poor women will be disproportionally affected and many women will continue to desperately search out methods of avoiding pregnancy. As the concern over the wellbeing of the athletes and visitors rises, we cannot forget the residents, women in particular, that are being left behind.



“Accountability won’t happen unless we demand it.”

This week, CWGL joins hundreds of other civil society organizations monitoring the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) for Sustainable Development in New York. Consisting of a Ministerial Declaration, thematic sessions and 22 voluntary country reviews, the forum is the official platform for follow-up and review of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

As we fight for gender equality and the full realization of human rights we must remember: The development agenda is, at its core, about human rights. Poverty. Inequality. Conflict. Climate change. We need a holistic approach grounded in policy: Fiscal policy, tax policy, labor policy are all critical, with the power to further entrench discrimination, or to tackle inequality. At the national level –both in the United States and abroad–we must ensure they fulfill rights for all.

To move the HLPF beyond rhetoric to strong accountability, it will require space for civil society, support for social movements and active inclusion of those often left behind, with member states capable and willing to engage in a human rights based approach to the 2030 Agenda.

By Rachael Wyant

Program Coordinator – Economic and Social Rights

“Brexit” Threatens the Rights of Women and Minorities

By Alexandra DeMatos

Communications Intern – Summer 2016

People from around the world watched as the United Kingdom experienced its most momentous week in decades. After a nerve-wracking referendum vote, Britain voted to leave the European Union (EU) by a very slim margin – 51.9 percent by 48.1 percent. London residents voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU. This vote meant much more to the people of Britain than a typical election because voting to leave the European Union is something that no country has ever done. To add more fuel to the fire, not only did Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron resign and international markets took a harsh blow, but also both Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the European Union, which many fear will lead to an even more historic event – the fall of Great Britain. These are the concerns that are currently dominating international media, leaving many other extremely important issues, such as the rights of women, minorities and refugees, swept under the rug.

The European Union began after World War II in order to increase security between its members states both economically and politically. The EU consists of 28 members with many more eager to join and it holds a great amount of influence over Europe. Many rights for women and minorities, which were brought to Britain through the EU, were not up for debate during the referendum period.

Feminist Caroline Criado-Perez compiled a list of rights given to women in England through the joining of the EU, “EU referendum: For any woman who values workplace equality, there’s only one way to vote,” including: equal pay for work of equal value, paid maternity leave, making it illegal to dismiss women due to pregnancy and ending the practice of “treating part-time workers as less valuable than full-time workers.” These were all rights that were NOT enforced in England until the intervention of the EU. The worry is now that by leaving the EU, there is no saying what will happen to these advancements and rights of women.

Here’s an example; in 1970 the United Kingdom passed the Equal Pay Act, which was supposed to be a leap towards ending wage discrimination. The issue however, was that it only guaranteed equal pay for women who were doing the exact same work as a man. The intervention of the European Commission in 1982 forced the United Kingdom to comply with Article 119 of The Treaty of Romeequal pay for work of equal value. Criado-Perez compared male street cleaners and women who clean offices as an example of equal pay for equal work. Now the fate of this important policy is unknown.

As for the rights of minorities and refugees, the EU, under the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), says that refugees are guaranteed protection: “Under CEAS, international protection is granted to those migrants who qualify as refugees due to a well-founded fear of persecution. Subsidiary protection status is granted to those who would face a real risk of suffering serious harm if returned to his/her country of origin.” According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, just about half of the 4.8 million Syrian refugees are women – 25.6 percent of whom are extremely young, ranging from infants to 17 years old and 24.2 percent are aged 18 to over 60. Since 1993 a majority of migrants to the United Kingdom have been women, most of which were attempting to escape terrible, often violent conditions from their home country, and considered the United Kingdom a safe space.

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Tweet posted to @PostRefRacism.

Perhaps it may seem unlikely that there would be a backwards shift in the realm of women’s rights or the rights of minorities or refugees, but if the #Leave campaign, which was heavily fueled by a hatred and fear of immigrants and minorities, was able to win the vote then perhaps a backwards shift does not seem so unlikely after all. Since the referendum vote on Thursday, June 23 there has been more than 100 incidents of hate crimes or racial abuses. There has been an outpour on social media of instances of harassment, a great deal of which are being reported by Muslim women. One tweet, by @heavencrawley, reads:Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 1.58.14 PM

Women in Great Britain are unsure of what is to come in the years following the referendum vote. Sophie Walker, the leader of the Women’s Equality Party, wrote, “Britain is leaving the EU and I would like to know what that means for women. For the cost of my childcare, for the likelihood of closing the pay gap and for the chances of this country ever ratifying the pan-European Istanbul Convention to end violence against women and girls.”

Her thoughts sum up the worries and questions of many.

Why do you want a #She4SG?

All of the past 8 United Nations Secretary Generals have been men. It’s time for a Madam Secretary. In a short 30 second video tell us why you want a woman Secretary General?

Send your video to comm@cwgl.rutgers.edu to be posted to the You Tube Channel and shared on social media.


Addressing the Gender Pay Gap & Inequalities

By Rachael Wyant


There’s been a lot of attention to the gender-pay gap recently in mainstream media. From Jennifer Lawrence and Robin Wright demanding more transparency and equality in high paying entertainment roles, to the U.S. Women’s Soccer team filing a lawsuit, citing the discrepancy between their contributions to the success of the organization relative to the men’s team including gap in compensation and bonuses.

These stories are found across all sectors today; female CEOs, who make up a mere fraction of leadership positions in Fortune 500 companies, make significantly less than their male counterparts, and are penalized to a greater degree with fluctuations in stock prices and revenues for their companies. We see this with women in academia: women are less likely to receive tenure-track positions, and are paid less than men of the same academic standings.

This says a lot about how far we’ve come societally. The Equal Pay Act was signed into law on June, 10 1963, yet women across the board perform work of greater or equal value to men and are still compensated poorly. What norms does this reflect about the intelligence, voice, efforts, time, and bodies of women in our culture? And if it’s so pervasive—and well documented– in the top 1% of female earners, what’s the situation of everyone else?

The “gender-pay gap”—as well as discrimination and unequal access to social protection—goes beyond discrepancies between men and women. If we are to truly address inequality and poverty, we must look to gaps among women themselves.

Female CEOS make an average annual salary of $18.8 million. The top paid female soccer players are raking in between $450,000, plus some bonuses. Women in large corporations have access to human resources and legal representation when faced with harassment and discrimination. They often receive benefits for themselves and their families with health insurance, paid leisure time and employer contributions to pensions.

A wider view of the labor market tells a much different tale. 26.8% of women work in low-wage jobs in New York; for example, women dominate service and care industries, with average annual wages of $ 26,200 (2014) and $20,490, respectively. The median income for women in the state is $43,800–and they’re making less than 88% of what men make. And within these low-wage sectors, there’s incredible racial disparity: African American child care workers make almost twice what Latina childcare workers earn ($21,400 compared to $11, 200).

And wages are only the tip of the iceberg when we talk about the situation of women at work-harassment, discrimination, lack of long-term job security and unregulated working conditions threatening the livelihoods and security of thousands of women. These issues have been gaining more mainstream attention, many based in New York, such as the Fight for $15 and Fast Food Forward, strong worker organizing through the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the Urban Justice Center, and outreach and education initiatives like the Nanny Van.

This is reflected in the recent Women’s Equality Agenda passed by Governor Andrew Cuomo for New York State, which address some of these critical issues: including violence against women in the work force, pregnancy protection, paid family leave, bringing an end to familial status and employment discrimination, and strengthening human trafficking laws.

The recently approved state budget for 2016 has also attempted to include some of these pressing priorities. Estimated at $150 billion, Cuomo had wins with high-profile policy measures such as New York City’s $15 incremental minimum wage increase and 12 weeks of paid time off.

As austerity cuts to social protection programs, job training, health insurance and housing subsidies disproportionally impact women, the budget also looks to residents’ abilities to earn an adequate standard of living. It contains income tax cuts beginning in 2018 for those making below $300,000, and takes measures to increase budgets for local school districts. $20 billion will be going toward homelessness and the affordable housing crisis.

If we’re serious about closing the gender-wage gap, and coming together to address severe levels of inequality in this country, we’ve got to do better than just budget allocations.

As the presidential elections approach, it is essential that we begin to change the conversation around women’s work and our economy: paid family leave, violence in the workplace, and flexible scheduling for care giving aren’t just “women’s issues. They are issues that deeply impact our society as a whole and prevent cities and neighborhoods from flourishing. Recognition of the problems is only the first step: the real work begins when we assess and improve the impacts of these services on the everyday lives of people.

Women’s Participation in the Green Economy: Finding Better Jobs and Environmental Solutions

By Maegan Kae Sunaz

March was the warmest month in recorded history, and the past six months have all set the warmest months on record.[1] If it wasn’t clear before, it’s definitely becoming apparent that climate change is real and it’s subtly creeping into our lives in insidious ways that can ultimately result in extreme heat waves, rising sea-levels, changes in precipitation that create floods or droughts, degraded air quality and more.[2] While part of recent changes is due to natural El Niño patterns, human-produced greenhouse gases poured into the atmosphere is the main contributor of climate change.[3]

Being a vulnerable group, women are more severely affected by climate change than men. The ICUN (World Conservation Union) released a report that predicts that the physical, economic, social and cultural impacts of global warming will jeopardize women far more than men, because of women’s social roles, trend of discrimination and poverty.[4]

There’s a lot at stake for women, and so it’s crucial to pay attention to how the next most powerful person in the world—the next president of the United States—is going to handle this issue. Although some Republicans would like to ignore what’s been scientifically asserted as a real phenomenon[5], the Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders include in their platform how they want to tackle the problem of climate change.

Clinton seeks to launch a $60 billion Clean Energy Challenge to partner with states, cities, and rural communities and give them tools that go beyond the minimum federal standards in cutting carbon pollution. She wants to make American manufacturing the cleanest in the world. She did not specify how many jobs she wants to create, but she does plan on creating jobs in the clean energy sector.[6]

Sanders is looking to support American workers who are moving into clean energy jobs by introducing the Clean Energy Workers Just Transition Act, which provides a comprehensive package of benefits for workers that include extended unemployment benefits, education opportunities, health career and job training. The bill also allows for the creation of a workers union. He also wants to stop subsidizing fossil fuel companies, and create 10 million good-paying jobs to make a Clean Energy Workforce.[7]

Both candidates say they want to expand green jobs, which currently needs more women. The Bureau of Labor Statistics finds that there are about 3.1 million people currently working in green jobs, and although women are half of the workforce, women make up roughly 30 percent of green employees.[8]

What accounts for this disparity is part of a broader problem where women are absent in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields, which are major components of green jobs.[9]

However, there’s great incentive for women to participate in the green economy. Not only are green jobs sustainable and good for the environment, but women worker’s median earnings are higher in the green economy than in the overall economy.[10] In 33 states, women in green jobs earn at least $1,000 more per year for full-time year round work than women working in a different sector.[11] Moreover, the gender wage gap for women in the green economy is smaller at 18 percent, compared to 22 percent in the economy as a whole.[12]

Minorities also have staying power in environmental jobs. A University of Michigan study shows that salaries of minority workers are almost completely unrelated to race, with virtually identical salaries. Experiences of salary discrimination can still exist, since minorities were likely to have lower starting salaries.

There are support systems that encourage women to acquire green occupations. The U.S. Department of Labor created “Why Green is Your Color Web-Based Training,”[13] as well as “Why Green Is Your Color: A Woman’s Guide to a Sustainable Career,” a guide for women to find and acquire green jobs by giving resources for women entrepreneurs interested in the green economy.[14]

Climate change is a pressing issue that we need to tackle together, and overall more work is needed to promote the potential benefits of green jobs to women and close the gender gap in employment within this sector. Continue reading “Women’s Participation in the Green Economy: Finding Better Jobs and Environmental Solutions”

Las mujeres con voz sabemos de qué se trata

En Argentina, la Asociación de Mujeres Argentinas por los Derechos Humanos (AMADH) y Cine en Movimiento trabajan desde el audiovisual, las problemáticas de la trata de personas/explotación sexual/prostitución. Graciela Collantes, coordinadora de la AMADH, nos habla a continuación sobre los aprendizajes e impacto de esta colaboración.

Desde su experiencia ha sido difícil abordar estos temas por el miedo a la discriminación, sobre todo al tratarse de contar su historia de vida. 10410626_692415954158253_6002862309193947478_n

Según Graciela, si bien existen distintas campañas contra la trata impulsadas por los gobiernos y organismos internacionales, éstas no logran interpelar a sus destinatarios por desconocer desde adentro la problemática. En ese sentido, para ellas es importante elaborar sus propios mensajes y campañas, sensibilizando y previniendo desde su propia experiencia.

“Queremos llegar no sólo a quienes tienen acceso a las herramientas de comunicación, sino a las personas en mayor situación de vulnerabilidad que no siempre tienen acceso a Internet, televisión, etc. Por eso usamos nuestros materiales para sensibilizar en los barrios, escuelas, clubes barriales.”

Cine en Movimiento trabaja siempre desde la perspectiva de la educación popular, donde cada taller de cine se transforma en un espacio de reflexión, intercambio y encuentro de saberes.10334329_692414257491756_5753058333461979753_n

El taller en AMADH ha permitido poner en escena las vivencias y relatos de mujeres en situación en prostitución, quienes son sistemáticamente estigmatizadas en los medios masivos de comunicación.10635843_733631796703335_6201533752462779710_n

Puedes ver los spots La soga y La casa desde el canal de Youtube de Cine en Movimiento. Agradecemos la colaboración de Graciela Collantes de la AMADH y Sol Benavente de Cine en Movimiento en este blog.


Guía y serie de videos para realizar entrevistas seguras, efectivas y éticas con sobrevivientes de violencia basada en género o sexual.

Este blog es parte del desfile de blogs de ¡Dominemos la tecnología! Del 25  de noviembre al 10 de diciembre nos sumamos a la campaña de @DominemoslasTIC para compartir experiencias de mujeres que utilizan video para combatir la violencia y recomendaciones para documentar estas historias de forma segura y ética.

*This blog is posted from https://es.witness.org/2015/11/las-mujeres-con-voz-sabemos-de-que-se-trata/ as part of the 16 Days Blog Parade. CWGL is encouraging activists, NGOs, and the greater online community to write about issues concerning unequal access to a safe education and GBV as well as other intersection of gender-based violence.

** The content here may not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership or the 16 Days Campaign **

Gender equality; not just a women’s issue

By Sophia Papastavrou, Gender Learning Hub Lead for World Vision’s Middle East and Eastern Europe regional office

This year marks the 24th year of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign whose goal is the elimination of violence against women and girls. Although, as a global community, we have made great strides, there is still much work to be done.

Sometimes I lie awake at night wondering about what kind of future lies ahead for women? What kind of future lies ahead for the future generations? And, what kind of future lies ahead for my four-month old daughter, Anna? It goes without saying that my daughter will be in a place of privilege.  Unlike 30 per cent of babies born each year (1), my daughter (and I) have access to high-quality maternal health services. In contrast to the more than 1 billion people who lack access to clean water, my daughter has a nearly unlimited supply. She won’t have to waste her time, potentially miss out on her education and be exposed to danger in order to carry jerry cans back and forth to fetch often filthy water. And, unlike an estimated 62 million girls around the world, Anna will have access to an education and be able to enjoy access to equal opportunities that allow her to learn in a safe environment.

The problem is her ‘privileges’ are not privileges at all. Access to healthcare, clean water and education are all essential human rights; rights that are all too often not extended to women around the world.

Despite all our progress, although women make up half the world’s population they continue to represent a staggering 70 per cent of the world’s poor. Their economical poverty is just the tip of the iceberg. Many other inequalities, such as lack of access to education, poor nutrition and unequal pay lurk beyond the surface, teaching us that we cannot simply focus on what is visible, we must also address what is invisible.  To address the base of the iceberg, we must put resources into women’s hands while at the same time promoting gender equality at household and in societal levels while empowering girls and young women to make informed choices.

World Vision’s reporting has found that young girls living in fragile, conflict and transitional societies continue to risk their lives simply to go to school—girls like Malala who was shot in the head as she was on the bus to school. The attack against her and her refusal to stand down from what she believed was right, brought to light the plight of millions of children around the world who are denied an education today. In Afghanistan, there were at least 185 documented attacks on schools and hospitals last year. In Pakistan, 140 students were killed as gunmen went from classroom to classroom. Such violent acts are often attributed to armed groups opposed to girls’ education.

Violence against women often starts before they are even born and continues throughout their lives. In Armenia, World Vision is working to reduce sex-selective abortion. The impact of this project has showed strong indicators of success, including a decline in domestic violence, increased school enrollment, and an increase in shared responsibility for child caregiving. As a result, 43.2 per cent of participants mentioned at least three changes in their perceptions/attitudes/behaviours regarding gender equality. In Lebanon and Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza, World Vision is working with local partners to raise awareness of domestic violence and abuse. In Albania, we are helping girls, like Merushe Tojalli, 16, reach their dreams of a secondary education.  “For most of my young life I was planning on and living [to reach my] dream to become a doctor,” she says. But, like many girls across Albania, Merushe’s dream was crushed when it came face-to-face with the harsh reality. As if poverty wasn’t enough of a hurdle, Merushe also faced the added level of traditional barriers. “I ran into the cold cultural wall blocking females from higher education,” she says. Merushe is one of the girls who participated in the campaign and advocated for access to education. She was at in the eighth grade at the time.  She never knew that the next year she would find herself on the same path as the girls she was advocating for.

In Afghanistan we are providing girls living in poverty access to education through a Street Kids Project: 92.5 per cent of children of the Street Children project are now attending school. Additionally, early childhood education ensures that education for girls is prioritized from a young age 637 children (316 girls and 321 boys) of age 5 years old completed the ECCD program with 95.5% of the children scoring high on school readiness indicators.

It is only through the elimination of violence and discrimination against women and girls  that we can hope to achieve the sustainable, peaceful and just society that everyone, especially girls deserve. All girls have the right to have access to healthcare and education, they have the right to be protected at home and in public, they have the right to be free from the fear or act of acid attacks, rape, and assault and the right enjoy access to equal opportunities.

We can have the future we want and need. Each and every one of us have the responsibility to help both men and women, boys and girls in our communities and spheres of influence to understand why gender matters and why gender equality is essential to sustainable development.  Over the next 16 Days, during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, I challenge all to take the road less travelled and delve into the stark realities that resisting gender brings to our future.

*This blog is posted from http://www.wvi.org/meero/blogpost/gender-equality-not-just-women%E2%80%99s-issue as part of the 16 Days Blog Parade. CWGL is encouraging activists, NGOs, and the greater online community to write about issues concerning unequal access to a safe education and GBV as well as other intersection of gender-based violence.

** The content here may not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership or the 16 Days Campaign **



16 Ways to Mark 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence!

By Gloria Blackwell

“Violence against women is not acceptable. It is not inevitable. It can be prevented.” — Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director, U.N. Women

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign begins November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and ends on December 10, Human Rights Day, highlighting the indelible fact that violence against girls and women is a human rights violation. This year’s campaign theme, From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Make Education Safe for All, highlights the “relationship between militarism and the right to education in situations of violent conflict, in relative peace, and [a] variety of education settings.”

Since 1991, the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) at Rutgers University has led the campaign, involving more than 5,478 individuals, organizations, and policy makers from more than 180 countries around the world. Twenty years after the U.N. Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, progress has been made, but problems still hinder women and girls’ advancement and full participation in society. Ending violence against girls and women will transform the world. That’s the philosophy behind the 16 Days campaign, which has been a catalyst toward ending gender-based violence for nearly a quarter-century.

The U.N. 16 Days campaign invites participants to “orange the world” to raise awareness around gender-based violence.

Parallel to the 16 Days campaign, the United Nations’ UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, led by U.N. Women, encourages “orange events” like concerts, flash mobs, and marathons featuring the color to take place around the world. These events will “symbolize a brighter future without violence” and launch the first-ever U.N. Framework on Preventing Violence against Women.

Both campaigns are about action and awareness, and each provides a tool kit for ideas and inspiration:

But we’ve done some of the work for you. Here is a day-by-day guide to raising awareness about gender-based violence during and after the campaign!

November 25: International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Share the Violence against Women infographic to increase awareness of gender-based violence (GBV) as a global pandemic.

November 26: Swap your Facebook profile picture.To kick off the campaign, all Facebook users can change their profile pictures to the 16 Days campaign logo for the duration of the campaign. Help spread the word and bring awareness to GBV and the right to safe, accessible education by changing your profile picture and inviting your Facebook friends to change theirs! Download the campaign logo and upload it as your profile picture.

November 27: Download and share the AAUW Ending Campus Sexual Assault Tool Kit. Use these resources to raise awareness about campus sexual assault so that everyone can help make campuses safe for all students.

November 28: Check out the international 16 Days campaign calendar. Get inspired by what’s happening in your local area and globally. Visit often since activities and events are updated daily!

November 29: Follow @16DaysCampaign on Twitter and join the conversation! Keep reading and tweeting the AAUW blog for information on how violence affects education for women and girls, and spread the word on our International Fellowships for women around the globe.

November 30: Share the United Nations’ Orange the World poster via Twitter and Facebook. Invite your friends to take action to end violence against women.

December 1: Write and share your own blog! Rutgers’ Center for Women’s Global Leadership will post the series 16 Blogs for 16 Days highlighting the work of activists from around the world throughout the campaign. Write about issues concerning unequal access to a safe education and GBV, and what you or your organization is doing to eliminate them. E-mail 16days@cwgl.rutgers.edu and they will share and feature your post during the campaign.

December 2: Take two minutes to tell your members of Congress to end sexual violence on campus! Your representative on Capitol Hill needs to hear from you about how important this issue is — use AAUW’s online Two-Minute Activist tool to urge them to co-sponsor the Hold Accountable and Lend Transparency (HALT) on Campus Sexual Violence Act.

December 3: Take action on Flickr. The Center for Women’s Global Leadership invites supporters of the 16 Days Campaign to take Flickr by storm! Show how you or your organization are working to eliminate GBV by uploading pictures of your participation in 16 Days activities or campaign events to the official Flickr account. Check out photos from previous years on Flickr.

December 4: Reach out to your government leaders for help with lighting and “orange-ing” iconic buildings in your community, town, or city. Organize orange marathons, flash mobs, dance parties, or bicycle rides.

December 5: Share via social media videos from the U.N. video channel “Say No to Violence,” which provides powerful tools for global information and advocacy.

December 6:  Quiz yourself. How much do you know about violence against women worldwide? For the ‪#‎16Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, test your knowledge in this U.N. Women quiz! Share your results via Twitter and Facebook with ‪#‎orangetheworld.

December 7:  Join the #16Days campaign #GBVTeachin on Twitter using handle @womengirlslead! Contribute to the conversation on how women’s leadership makes home and the world safer for all. Retweet, ask questions, or share your thoughts using the Twitter handle @womengirlslead and the hashtags #16Days and #GBVTeachin!

December 8: Read about the United Nations’ 15-year plan for global issues like empowering women and girls. The United Nations’ new Sustainable Development Goals include specific targets to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls, which includes trafficking. Read more on the AAUW blog and share what you learn.

December 9: Tell Congress to do more to protect survivors of gender-based violence. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) only helps survivors in the United States — that’s why Congress needs to pass the International Violence Against Women Act, known as I-VAWA.

December 10: Human Rights Day – Join the #16Days campaign #GBVTeachin on Twitter using handle @WorldPulse. Same Twitter campaign, different topic: how women change makers from around the world are working to end gender-based violence. Retweet, ask questions, or share your thoughts using their Twitter handle @WorldPulse and the hashtags #16Days and #GBVTeachin!

It will take the activism of women and men to end gender-based violence. Participating in the 16 Days campaign is a critical opportunity to connect with other advocates and increase awareness about gender-based violence.

Raise your voice for all the women of the world and speak out against gender-based violence so that From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Make Education Safe for All becomes a reality.


*This blog is posted from http://www.aauw.org/2015/11/24/16-days-countdown/ as part of the 16 Days Blog Parade. CWGL is encouraging activists, NGOs, and the greater online community to write about issues concerning unequal access to a safe education and GBV as well as other intersection of gender-based violence.

** The content here may not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership or the 16 Days Campaign **


A Space for Somalia’s Girls and Women The story of the Galkayo Education Center for Peace and Development (GECPD)

Galkayo Education Center for Development Program (GECDP) established in 1999, has emerged as an instrumental Education, Peace building and Women’s rights center. A re-known and standard Civic Society organization in Puntland State of Somalia, is known for its strife for girl’s education and women’s rights in general. It has thrived well in a community of Clan conflicts and tensions of Al-Shabab practices. Founded by a global re – known Educationist, Peace and Human rights activist and a Nansen Refugee Award winner ( 2012), GECDP has made a mark in the lives of girls and women and the community at large.

Like in any other societies of Somalia, Gender based violence (GBV) and discrimination are very common practice. It is mostly fueled by the systematic patriarchal practices as reflected in the practiced religious, traditional and clan ideologies. Further the entrenched customary law framework –Xeer, mostly guides the legislative actions and systems and grants perpetrators impunity.

Therefore Somali girls and women suffer from GBV and practices of Female genital mutilation (FGM) and the health related consequences, rape, domestic violence, polygamy, wife inheritance, early and forced marriages among others. The system promotes impunity for perpetrators.

However with the support of Coordination mechanisms –such as Somalia Protection cluster; GBV Working Group and the leading Ministry of Women Development and Family Affairs (MoWDAFA), survivor’s rights have improved though at a small pace. For example in 2014, a perpetrator in a reported rape case was given a 20 years sentence. An achievement in a context of high levels of violence against women and girls (VAWG), and as indicated by the UNFPA-supported GBVe Information Management System – that rape, sexual, physical, assault constituted 90% of all incidents reported in 2013 and 2014. It is a general trend that violates the rights of girls and women and it is very extreme for girls and women in the IDP communities.

In Galkayo, in Puntland, the work of GECPD, is potentially significant in the National and International agendas and efforts aimed at promoting the rights of Girls and Women and Gender Equality. It is clearly informed by the degree of GBV and discrimination in the society at large. Hence their efforts and contribution have been reflected in the International campaigns including 16 Days of Activism to end VAW/G, that we are part of, the International Female Genital Mutilation Campaigns, implementing the Somalia Compact – New Deal PSG’s among others. It has attracted international attention and support including funds and running exchange programs for girls; donations and funds.

Central to GECPD work is Education, a strategy that promotes gender equality and women’s empowerment and has enormously contributed to the National Education agenda of promoting girls education in particular. Though met with resistance at the initial stages, particularly from the traditional leaders and their male counterparts, in fear of losing power and control over girls and women, the organization has long transcended the barriers.

Particularly the notion of enrolling girls into the education system, and the advocacy against FGM raised suspicion. Males pre-conceived it as a way for making girls and women rebellious and abandon harmful practices of FGM, Early and forced marriages among others. As indicated by the founder in an interview with UNICEF staff, the school initiative was criticized for being too Westernized and the building was stoned, faeces were thrown at it and they faced threats.

Regardless of the barriers, GECPD has become an instrumental institution that has transcended the tradition of discrimination of girls and women in education. Community members including men have embraced the transition. The enrollment capacity has increased, and other centers have been opened to accommodate the education needs of girls and women. The enrollment of girls has increased to 40%, and considered the highest girls enrollment rate in the country where only 24.6 % girls attend school. In its role for gender integration, the school enrolls, boys for formal education, as a strategy to introduce them to gender teachings among other purposes, while boys of age are enrolled for vocational training in preparation for job opportunities.

In efforts to assist girls and women realise their rights, the institution implements tailor made programs that enable girls and women to re-claim their social – economic and political rights. Include formal education for girls; vocational training for the vulnerable girls and women; Human rights education, mainstreaming gender values in learning and education; Training women in leadership programs; advocacy on the elimination of female genital mutilation in all its forms, Safe homes for the vulnerable girls and women, HIV/AIDS awareness, Sports among others. Additionally, the center serves as a focal point for more than 20 women’s organizations in the community and benefit from the training services.

Somalia is generally a polarized nation. This is mostly fueled by the different political and clan ideologies. It is not very common for people from different regions to share same space. However GECDP, due to its role in peacebuilding broke cords in 2014 when a Volley ball tournament for young girls between Mogadishu (Federal) and Puntland State of Somalia was organized and played in Galkayo town. The activity aimed at creating more awareness on the issues of gender based violence and discrimination – celebrated during the 16 Days of Activism on VAW/G in 2014. The event which was also attended by a spectrum of the population including Government leaders, Clan leaders, Community members, Civil Society, UN Agencies among others, also highlighted the role of Girls/Women in the peacebuilding process as well as their demand for free space/society in the country and their capability of breaking the gender stereotypes in sports in general.

*This blog is posted from http://wordsinthebucket.com/space-somalias-girls-women as part of the 16 Days Blog Parade. CWGL is encouraging activists, NGOs, and the greater online community to write about issues concerning unequal access to a safe education and GBV as well as other intersection of gender-based violence.

** The content here may not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership or the 16 Days Campaign **