Someone recently tweeted: “Why aren’t we hearing more about #16DaysOfActivism?”
We certainly should be hearing more. Each year from 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to 10 December (International Human Rights Day) the campaign 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence takes place.
Such a campaign is desperately needed:
- More than one in three women experience gender-based violence during their lifetime
- More than five women or girls are killed every hour by someone in their own family
- Less than 40% of women who experience violence seek help of any sort
According to the UN, violence against women is the most pervasive human rights violation around the world.
There is a global backlash against women’s rights happening right now. As the UN put it:
Anti-feminist movements are on the rise, attacks against women human rights defenders and activists are up, and the legal status of women’s rights is increasingly imperilled in many countries. Regressive new laws are exacerbating impunity for perpetrators of domestic violence, governments are using force against femicide and gender-based violence protestors, and women’s rights organizations are being increasingly marginalized.
gold-youth is committed to finding solutions for the challenges facing Africa’s youth, including gender inequality and its corollary gender-based violence. gold-youth believes that a determined generation ignited with hope, and armed with practical skills, can overcome these obstacles in their path.
Towards that end gold-youth has engaged in various advocacy campaigns centred around 16 Days of Activism.
Some exciting community upliftment activities took place at our Zimbabwe sites. During December, the gold team held events at Mzilikazi High School and Cowdray Park Secondary Schools in Bulawayo, raising awareness on gender-based violence. gold Peer Educators presented poems, speeches, designed posters, and conducted a short play speaking out against gender-based violence in society. Peer Educators also made use of visual art to enhance their message and ensure that the hearing impaired learners were also able to read and interpret the message and connect with other peers on the subject.
Another example is provided by our Zambian team who ran advocacy events focussed on #saynotoGBV. They put the onus on men by pointing out that a good man is not an abuser. Rather a good man stands for equality and justice. He’s responsible and speaks out against gender-based violence. They stressed that men play a critical role in ending GBV and making the world a better place.
One man, Delitso, has the following to say:
“Men are taught that expressing feelings is not masculine. We can challenge the social norm that tells men what they should or shouldn’t be feeling. Examine your social roles and learn ways to express feelings directly and non-violently to create more meaningful interpersonal relationships.”
In another testimony, Doris says:
“They say a man’s promiscuous behaviour doesn’t break a home. But it’s such statements that make women and girls seem inferior, making it easy to treat them with disrespect and violence. We should change the way we speak to help the way we think.”
Further, another learner shared:
“Growing up I got used to listen to this statement “MWAMUNA SAMALILA”, meaning a man isn’t supposed to cry. But we have the power to change that narrative. It is normal for a man to cry and be comforted, and to seek counsel. Let’s make sure we report GBV.”
The team taught that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights; and that therefore we must stop the violence and promote equal rights among women and men as well as among boys and girls.
These are only a few of many stories of the ways gold–youth are engaging in advocacy.
Sadly, gender-based violence is all too common. gold-youth, alongside young people and other key stakeholders, is working against this trend, further clearing that path to fullness of life for Africa’s youth, especially it’s women.
So let’s talk about #16DaysOfActivism and about the violence women experience and about how men can be different and end this abuse.
If we continue to advocate for men to be good men who treat women with dignity and respect, we can contribute towards a better world, one free of gender-based violence.
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