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 **

 

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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 **

A husband and wife find joy in equality

By Jenna Montgomery, International Medical Corps Communications Officer

Esperance Cirhuza, 28, is a mother and a wife living in Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a notorious place for violence against women. The following is Esperance’s firsthand account of how an International Medical Corps program that engages men in a peer-to-peer discussion group changed her life for the better.

I have been married to my husband for five years now and have two children. My husband used to have no consideration for me. I had no right to refuse sex when he wants it, otherwise I will be beaten. He always came home very late, smelling of alcohol. I could not ask any question about this.

My husband is a teacher and one day when I asked to know his salary, he responded that I have no right to know his salary. When I tried to start my own little business to bring in some income, he confiscated my money and I had to stop. I struggled in this situation for four years. I could not share my experience with anyone and I was suffering in silence.

One day this year, the chief of our village came home and talked with my husband about International Medical Corps’ activities in our community. The following day, my husband went to an International Medical Corps Men’s Discussion Group meeting. I was excited when my husband registered in this group.

Two weeks later my husband came home earlier than usual at 7pm, so I thought he was sick or something. Some weeks later I was surprised when one day I saw my husband bathing our child while I was in the kitchen. I feared and thought he was going to send me away and bring in a new wife. He explained to me that he is learning good things in the group he joined and is trying to change.

However I was not convinced. He invited their facilitator home to explain to me what they were learning. He said it is important I believe my husband and support him. My husband started sharing with me the subjects they discussed during the week. One day, three months later my husband asked me to invite our children to have dinner together. After dinner he asked me and the children to forgive him for his bad behavior and promised to be a very good husband and father. Then he showed me his payroll. I could not believe. I was so surprised that I cried.

Since that day, I was convinced and our family lives in peace. My husband gave me money and I am selling shoes. I thank International Medical Corps for this miracle in my life and in my household. I recommend that this approach be spread everywhere to help other women to regain joy like me.

International Medical Corps has been operating sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) programs in DRC since 2003. One such approach in this program engages men in a series of group discussions about SGBV issues. The discussions last 16 weeks and are moderated by trained facilitators. During group sessions, the men learn about the realities of SGBV and to recognize the negative consequences. The men then work together on a plan they can implement to prevent SBGV in their own community. They are role models for all men, young and old, in their communities.

 

*This blog is posted from https://internationalmedicalcorps.org/story-drc-a-husband-and-wife-find-joy-in-equality-a-voiceless-congolese-woman-finally-shares-her-story 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 **