Through bold actions, global citizens Say NO
Some 40,000 actions have been taken since the launch in November 2009. (Photo: World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts)
All over the world, people are mobilizing: collecting signatures, holding vigils and reaching out to youth. A theatre performance on violence against women in a Pakistani village prevents a forced marriage. Delhi streets get new lights to make life safer for women. The National Taekwondo Foundation of Tajikistan supports Say NO through their sports tournaments. Read on, and get inspired!
The Women’s Resource Center Shirkat Gah of Pakistan has been promoting women’s rights for the last 25 years. In December 2009, the Centre in collaboration with partners adopted creative approaches to address forced marriages in Lahore and in the country’s rural areas. A partner, the Pakistan Human Development Foundation, supported by UNIFEM, took on a special challenge in the villages of South Punjab Province where women and girls are rarely seen in public. Through group discussions and dialogue, they reached out to the village elders and the community. Despite strong, initial reluctance to attend events together due to traditional norms, men and women of the villages eventually agreed to watch a theatre performance together. As a result of this initiative, women have started speaking out about their needs. According to organizers, a young girl was even able to avoid a forced marriage.
The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, November 25 saw the launch of the Safe Delhi for Women initiative, which seeks to make urban public spaces safer for women, including public transport. The project is a collaboration between the Delhi Government, UN Habitat, UNIFEM and the NGO JAGORI. Several cities across the world--including Seoul, Dar es Salaam and Bogota--have already created similar programmes.
There was much activity in the sports arena, which also engaged men as partners. In Tajikistan, the National Taekwondo Federation mobilized through a signature campaign and disseminated information about violence against women at their sports tournaments. In Burundi, UNIFEM worked closely with the government to mobilize the city’s jogging clubs to distribute information materials in the capital Bujumbura, and also organized an awareness campaign targeting men in traditionally male jobs such as drivers of taxis and motorcycles. In Philippines, the Men’s Summit was the final event of the 16-Day Campaign to End Violence against Women in Baguio City, where men came together to strategize on ways to end domestic violence.
Youth mobilization has also picked up speed. During the summer programme “Youth Say NO” High School Students in Bangkok were trained to launch a multi-regional student organization. During the 8 weeks the group also created an online magazine and produced a short video. Representing 10 million girls and young women in 145 countries, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts called on youth to “Shine a Light” by lighting a candle in their towns or cities to remember the 70 percent of women worldwide who experience violence in their lifetimes. Students from Fiji Institute of Technology and the University of the South Pacific formed a network of students to address violence against women in the region.
The Inter-Parliamentary Union’s global call garnered wide results: Women Parliamentarians of Uruguay joined the Lilac Ribbon Campaign to combat violence; the Romanian Parliament started a media campaign; Senator Pia S. Cayetano of Phillipines launched an exhibition showcasing the artwork of young girls from a temporary shelter; and the Austrian government and the Maldives parliament signed on to Say NO. In addition to the signing, the Maldives parliament passed a resolution on Ending Violence against Women.
Globally, the fight to end violence against women is gaining momentum. Over 150 organizations have become Say NO partners, and some 40,000 actions have been taken since the launch in November 2009.