Venezuelan Women On The Edge

By Asociación Civil Mujeres en Línea, Asociación Venezolana por una Educación Sexual Alternativa (AVESA), Centro de Justicia y Paz (CEPAZ), and Centro Hispanoamericano de la Mujer FREYA

Last month, four non-governmental organizations launched a report presenting the dire situation of women’s rights in our country, Venezuela. We called it “Women on the Edge” because this is the best way to describe current living conditions of most Venezuelan women and adolescents girls.

This report documents not only how Venezuela’s humanitarian emergency and democratic deficit has negatively and disproportionately impacted women and adolescent girls, but how the current situation involves serious regressions and violations of human rights that have failed to catch the world’s attention.

The findings tell a story of survival and resilience, where women have been left alone for the most part by a State that seems to be preoccupied only with keeping its grip on power. While poverty is on the rise, particularly among women, they are greatly exposed to hunger, malnutrition, extortion, ill health and violence.

In the context of a staggering socio-economic and political crisis never seen before in this country, the outlook for the year 2018 is grimmer and more complex. Already this year, 82% of Venezuelans live in poverty – more than half in extreme poverty. The minimum monthly wage sits at 4 USD. A professional with graduate studies earns between 15 to 25 US dollars a month: approximately 1 USD a day.

According to the IMF, inflation will hit 2.068% next year, which means that salaries and purchase power will collapse even further than this year. It is calculated that a minimum monthly wage is needed to cover just one day of basic food requirements for a regular family.

Even in 2013, before the deepening of this crisis, poor women outnumbered poor men: for every 100 men living in poverty, there were 107 women, and for every 100 men living in extreme poverty, there were 112 women. Overall, poverty among women is 6 points above the national average.

If we consider that 4 out of 10 households are headed by women (70% of which are women without partners), it is not difficult to conclude that many of those households live in some form of poverty.

Behind these figures lies a stark reality: women are carrying on their shoulders the bulk of the crisis. They are the first to leave their jobs in order to line up for food, medicines and other scarce supplies, or to care for children, the elderly, the sick, and the disabled in a country where social safety nets, work-life programs, and social security are severely diminished. At the height of the crisis between December 2014 and December 2015, 99% of those who left the labor market were women.

Lines for food are made up mostly by women of all ages, who spend between 8 and 14 hours a week lining up. While standing, they are often subjected to different forms of aggression by security forces, including beatings of pregnant women. Despite being the ones looking for food, they consume less food products than men and are forced to consume less healthy products, putting their own health at risk. Last year, a survey conducted by 3 major universities in Venezuela found that 75% of those consulted had an uncontrolled loss weight of 8 to 9 kilos.

Caritas, a non-governmental organization working on food and nutrition monitoring in some of the poorest parishes in the country has identified several survival strategies used by families in the face of severe food shortages and soaring inflation: eating less and avoiding specific foods (70-80% of households); waiving one or two meals so that another person in the family could eat (53% of households); and spending the day without eating (48%). Women are the ones who most often waive meals so that someone else in the family may eat (33%), while more than half of families reported they sacrificed elder women’s food intake. Essentially, women are being forced to deny themselves food in order to survive and to ensure the survival of their dependents and loved ones.

The threats to their reproductive health are just as bad or even worse.

Today, Venezuelan women are being denied access to contraceptives despite the fact that historically, women were able to get contraceptives, including the morning after pill as well as condoms, through public hospitals or in private pharmacies,without obstacles. But since 2014, together with general shortages of a vast majority of medicines and medical supplies, oral contraceptives, intra-uterine devicess, and other family planning options have disappeared from shelves. This violates women’s rights to reproductive autonomy and health, both of which are constitutionally protected in Venezuela.

There are no official figures regarding public expenditures on contraceptives or on shortages. According to the latest available data (from 2015, the Ministry of Health’s purchase of contraceptives and condoms would amount to 2% of local demand for family planning methods. An online survey conducted by our organizations last June found out that 7 out of 10 women consulted could not find their desired contraceptive in the past 12 months.

Lack of access to contraceptives has had an impact on unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions and maternal mortality. As recently as 2016, maternal mortality increased 66% according to official figures. The main cause of these deaths is hemorrhages. Considering that Venezuela has one of the most restrictive legal frameworks in the region on abortion, it’s not difficult to conclude that behind the increase in maternal mortality rates are women trying to end unwanted pregnancies. It is important to highlight that President Nicolas Maduro has never spoken of the issue of abortion in the 4 years since he came to power. There are also tremendous gaps in the health system infrastructure where the most basic medications and supplies are missing, with reports of pregnant women having to visit up to five hospitals to get medical attention.

Women are put on the edge regarding their sexual and reproductive health when they are unable to make fundamental decisions about their bodies and their lives, particularly in a context of severe socio-economic conditions and shortages of food, diapers, menstrual hygiene products and milk formula, among many other basic items.

Our study also explored the increasing numbers of femicides and impunity around cases of violence against women in general. In the case of femicides (the killing of women out of hate or contempt towards them), which is a criminal offense included in Venezuela’s progressive violence against women legislation, the rate has shown an increase from 0,77 per 100,000 women in 2015 to 0,78 per 100,000 women in 2016. However, due to lack of proper training of police and criminal justice officers in identifying what constitutes femicide, these figures indicate major underreporting. On other forms of violence against women, despite efforts by the State in creating and strengthening institutions in this area, including special courts to deal with cases involving violence against women, impunity is high. Out of almost 71,000 cases reported in 2014, only 482 or 0.6% made it to the courts. Victims of violence face all sorts of obstacles and revictimization within the justice system as a result of which many opt not to report their cases.

As the crisis worsens, reports of young girls being forced into prostitution in exchange for food are increasing, as well as reports of women being recruited by traffickers across the region.

As indicated in our study, all of these situations are occuring on the watch of a government that calls itself “feminist,” but does not guarantee the most basic rights to women and is involved in violating their rights. Never before have Venezuelan women been more vulnerable or had their rights trampled upon in this manner. And the State is mostly responsible for that which begs the question, when and how will the impunity end?


A Brighter Future Begins in a Classroom

Today marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the start of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, a global campaign by individuals and groups calling for an end to all forms of violence against women. This year’s theme is “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Make Education Safe for All”. For the next 16 days, Peace is Loud will be sharing reports, quotes from our speakers, and other resources around this theme. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and join the conversation!

 At Peace is Loud, we recognize peace to be more than just an absence of war, but a societal transformation towards inclusion and a celebration of diversity. Similarly, building peace requires a measurable shift in how we treat the people we share a home, classroom, workplace, community, country and world with. A holistic issue requires a holistic response.

In many parts of the world, access to safe, quality education is not a right but a privilege, and requires several factors to converge: Parents or guardians must first decide that their child should be and stay in school, and not be married off at a young age; school facilities and materials must be accessible and affordable; teachers, staff and school officials must be dedicated to a violence-and-harassment-free environment; and school policies must communicate and enforce policies towards that end. All too often, one or more of these factors fail to fall into place. The damage in a child’s life, and to the world as a whole, is monumental.

For the more than 14 million girls in conflict-affected countries who are out of school, the 28 girls married before the age of 18 every minute, the 120 million girls worldwide who have experienced sexual assault in their lifetime, the 1 in 5 women and 1 in 13 men who were sexually abused as children, and the LGBTQ youth who feel unsafe in their school because of bullying, awareness-raising and calls to action should be scaled up not just during these 16 Days, but every day moving forward. From a young age, children need to be taught that they deserve lives free from violence, that they deserve quality education, that consent is their right, and that their voices deserve to be heard.

We are fortunate to work with incredible women who have been dedicated to ending violence and promoting safe education for many years.  From Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, who set up secret schools for girls in Afghanistan during Taliban rule, to Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda’s tireless call for an end to child marriage and Leymah Gbowee’s support for girls’ education In Liberia, we are inspired every day by the work of our speakers and their colleagues.

If you’re wondering how to make an impact at an individual, local level, particularly around ending child marriage, Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, Peace is Loud speaker and African Union Goodwill Ambassador for the Campaign to End Child Marriage has a message for you:


To learn more about Peace is Loud or bring a women peacebuilder public speaker to your classroom or event, please visit our website.

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

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 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 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 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 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 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 **