16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence 2014: What Needs to be Done?
By admin On 25 Nov, 2014 At 03:17 AM | Categorized As News | With 0 Comments

Josephine ChukwumaIt all started at the 1stWomen’s Global Leadership Institute sponsored by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991.The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violencewas given birth to. Participants attending the institute from across the worldchose the dates, November 25, International Day Against Violence Against Women and December 10, International Human Rights Day, in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights.

This period every year, has been used strategically by individuals, civil society organizations, human rights groups and governments, to heighten calls for the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls. During this period, activities to raise awareness about gender-based violence (violence against women) as a human rights issue; strengthen local work on the issue; provide forums to develop and share new and effective strategies such as the active involvement of men in the campaign; demonstrate the solidarity of women all over the world in advocating for zero tolerance; and call on governments to implement promises made on the issue at various forums are carried out.

The 16-days period also highlights other significant dates during the period, which includes:

  • November 25th – International Day on Violence Against women
  • November 29th – International Human Rights Defenders Day
  • December 1 – World AIDS Day
  • December 3rd– International Day of the Disabled
  • December 6th – Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre (the 1989 killing of 14 young female engineering students by a gunman in a classroom at Montreal University in Canada after ordering all the male students out)
  • December 10thInternational Human rights Day

Since 1991, over 5.179 groups in over 187 countries around the world have taken part in the 16 Days Campaign. With each year, the number increases.

As we commemorate this year’s 16 Days of Activism in Nigeria, the following needs to be done:

  • Develop effective prevention strategies that address the root causes of gender inequality and the lower status of women in all spheres of life. Whether it is in the economy or in the political sphere, women continue to be disadvantaged and marginalized. Instead, we need families, communities and nations where women and men are equally valued and where women can participate fully.
  • Mass sensitization and awareness creation at all levels on the fact that women and girls are more at risk of violence from the very people they KNOW, LOVE and TRUST. This could be at home, in school, the workplace and the community in general.
  • Urgent steps need to be taken to address the silent epidemic of child sexual abuse currently ravaging all parts of the country. Children and young persons are the targets of sexual abuse, with as much as 70% of reported cases of sexual abuse being people below the age of 18 years.
  • Support services for women and girls surviving violence (physical or sexual) need to be put in place. A case in point presently is the Chibok girls’ saga. These support services include one stop medico-legal centers for counselling, legal advice, and medical care to ensure access to justice; shelters, national and state hotlines etc.
  • An urgent need for more accurate reporting rates; better data collection nationally that analyses prevalence rates and patterns; and development of a directory of sexual offenders.
  • Greater support for organizations that are in the frontline of responding to cases of gender violence. They advocate for legal reforms and policy change, and provide technical expertise that enhances urgent response and delivery of the much needed support services by survivors.
  • Increased male involvement in the campaign is very important. Having more men and boys standing up and speaking out against all forms of gender-based violence, will fast track the process. Male leaders – religious, traditional, professional etc, must take the lead. They must support efforts to end impunity and ensure perpetrators are brought to book. There should be no sacred cows.

 

In line with this, UN Women has launched the He For She campaign to engage men and boys as advocates and agents of change for the achievement of gender equality and women’s rights. No longer should violence against women and girls, be condoned and justified. From peace in the home to peace in world, let’s all join in the fight to eliminate violence against women in our society.

WE MUST UNITE AND SAY NO TO GENDER VIOLENCE.

Josephine Effah-Chukwuma is the Executive Director of Project Alert on Violence Against Women (Project Alert), an NGO that advocates for zero tolerance for all forms of violence against women; and renders practical support services to female survivors.

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