African steps

12/18/2017, Dakar, Senegal, Francesca writes:

16 days of activism for the elimination of violence against women

The logo of the campaign

Every year on 25 November the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is celebrated; this is an important opportunity for projects aimed at protecting women's and girls’ rights and promoting women's autonomy, such as PASNEEG and PADESS, to strengthen and promote ongoing and future activities.

The date of November 25 was chosen and formalised in 1981 by the United Nations General Assembly, in memory of the three Dominican sisters Mirabal, brutally murdered in 1960 because of their commitment to countering the dictatorial regime of their country. The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women honour them, inviting the whole world to denounce and eliminate gender-based violence. For this reason, every year, on this day, governments, international organizations, and non-governmental organisations carry out activities aimed at raising awareness about the issue.

Inauguration of the Boutique de droit in Kaolack

The Day takes on an even greater significance as it is the beginning of the "Campaign of 16 Days of Activism for the Elimination of Violence against Women", which is launched on November 25every year since 1991; it symbolically ends on December 10, the International Human Rights Day. As a bridge between these two events, the Campaign of 16 Days of Activism marks the link between the elimination of gender-based violence and the protection of human rights, emphasising how one depends on the other. During the 16 days, awareness-raising activities take place all around the world to eliminate violence against women and girls.

This year, the Campaign of the 16 Days of Activism focuses on the theme " “Leave no one behind: End violence against Women and Girls”— in line with the Fundamental principle of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The choice of this theme aims at reflecting and taking action aimed at women and all disadvantaged and marginalized categories, from migrants to refugees, from ethnic and cultural minorities, to victims of conflicts and natural disasters. And like every year, the dominant colour of all activities is orange.

Launch of the campaign

Considering the increased attention that this Campaign brings to the issue of violence against women in the media, many activities are being conducted these days. Firstly, there was obviously a ceremony for the launch of the Campaign. With a typically Senegalese folklore, dozens of women dressed in orange have gathered on the Place du Souvenir Africain, in order to listen, witness, promote and share.

In addition, a Boutique de droit was officially inaugurated in Kaolack; after a ceremony full of music and slogan, I could listen to the stories of women who experience or assist violence in their everyday life, and this was more significant to me than any official talk.

And again, I took part in the workshop organised to present the results of a study conducted by the Dalberg Global Development Advisors consulting firm, in partnership with the UN Capital Development Fund, about the economic and financial inclusion of women and girls in Senegal. The PASNEEG took part in the study bringing examples of how violence against women negatively affects their production capacity and their inclusion options. We discussed major challenges and possible solutions.

This study, the women of Kaolack who feel they have a voice thanks to the Boutique de droit, and the mass participation to the launch of the Campaign of 16 days of Activism and in the many ongoing activities, leads me to reflect on how inclusion, be it economic, political, civil, cultural and social, is the key to combating gender inequality and therefore gender-based violence. Inclusion leads to participation, and this determines the appropriation of projects, ideas and rights; the result is a greater efficiency and effectiveness of the actions undertaken, as well as sustainability.

So, as they always say here, "On est ensemble!"


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