IWTC Women's GlobalNet #313
Activities and Initiatives of Women Worldwide
December 11, 2006
By Sofia Binioris



3.     FROM 16 to 365 DAYS OF ACTIVISM



An important component of the 16 Days Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, 25 November to 10 December, is the overlap of the campaign with significant dates such as Human Rights Day (December 10) and World AIDS Day (December 1), among others.  The campaign kicks off on November 25, which the UN officially recognized as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in 1991, marking the day (1960) when three sisters and resistance activists, Patricia, Minerva, and Maria Teresa Mirabel were assassinated in the Dominican Republic during the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo, an event that incited the movement to end the dictatorship.


The days included in the Campaign highlight the connections between gender-based violence, human rights, and AIDS, “symbolically linking,” according to the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL), issues of violence against women to broader human rights abuses.   A number of activities organized by NGOs and United Nations agencies seek to highlight this connection and continue to broaden the contexts in which women’s issues are raised.

Information from “Call for Action! Celebrate 16 Years of 16 Days” – Fact Sheet: http://www.isis.cl/temas/vi/activismo/Ingles/calforactionBUENO.pdf





Addressing Sexual Violence in Liberia: A Follow-Up to the Brussels Symposium

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Permanent Missions of Liberia and Belgium organized a presentation and panel discussion – “Addressing Sexual Violence in Liberia.”  The panel provided an overview of the situation in Liberia and discussed the new National Action Plan to Address Gender-Based Violence.  This was the first in a series of follow-up events to the International Symposium on Sexual Violence in Conflict and Beyond, held in Brussels in June.  Speakers included: Annie Demen, Deputy Minister of Gender and Development, Liberia; Rosana Schaack, Director, THINK (Liberian NGO); Mendy Marsh, Program Coordinator, Christian Children’s Fund, Liberia; and moderator Susan Purdin, Senior Technical Advisor on Reproductive Health at the International Rescue Committee.

United Nations Headquarters, New York, New York, December 6, 3-5pm

For more information on the Symposium, please visit: www.unfpa.org/emergencies/symposium06 or contact symposium@unfpa.org


International Conference on Violence Against Women

In Norway, the Forum for Women and Development (FOKUS) organized an International Conference on Violence Against Women on 25 November.  The conference began with an address by Guro Katharina Vikor, Ambassador for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  A series of speakers addressed the issue of Trafficking in Women, featuring Ms. Sigma Hudu, UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking; Tove Skarstein, Trafficking Coordinator, Norweigian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Unni Kiil, coordinator of the Rosa project for victims of trafficking; and Gunilla Eckberg, international expert on prostitution and trafficking.  A second series of workshops focused on “Women in War and Conflict” and included a panel on Gender Based Violence with Ms. Hodan Addou, UNIFEM Regional Peace Advisor, Africa and Raymond Johansen, State Secretary, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

For more information, contact: Sidsel E. Aas, Head of Information, FOKUS, sea@fokuskvinner.no, or visit: www.fokuskvinner.no.



The Global Coalition on Women and AIDS, UN AIDS, amongst other partnering organizations, joined forces on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2006 for a dialogue among prominent religious and civil society leaders, women living with HIV, and government representatives to discuss how the faith-based community could continue and expand its leadership role, helping to promote and support effective strategies to stop violence and fight AIDS worldwide.

For more information, contact Pauline Muchina at muchinap@unaids.org, or visit: http://www.cwgl.rutgers.edu/16days/kit06/cal/northamerica/GCWADC.doc



Documentary Showing by UNOHCHR – Human Rights and Violence Against Women

As part of the 16 Days, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva screened two documentaries produced by IRIN/OCHA on issues of violence against women.  “Our Bodies…Their Battleground, Gender Based Violence During Conflict” was shown on December 6, from 12:30 to 2:30 at Palais Wilson, followed by a discussion moderated by Aminata Gueye (UNHCR).  “Razor’s Edge: The Controversy of Female Genital Mutilation” was screened on December 8, from 12:30 to 2:30 at Palais Wilson, followed by a discussion moderated by Eszter Kismodi (WHO) and Jane Cottingham (WHO).

To learn more: http://www.ohchr.org/english/events/16_days/documentaries.htm


International Campaign in Solidarity with Women in Darfur

On December 10, groups around the world will be highlighting the issue of rape and sexual violence in Darfur.  Rape and sexual assault have become routine in the conflict, increasingly used as a form of terror.  According to the UN, the levels of sexual assault in Kalma IDP camp have recently increased from around ten a month to ten assaults per day.  Daily activities, such as collecting firewood, have become a question of life and death for both men and women; men are often killed and women often raped. On Dec. 10, where possible, groups around the world will gather around fires to symbolize the firewood problem that makes so many women victims of rape.  Participants are also encouraged to wear black to symbolize mourning.

To learn more and connect with other organizations who are participating, contact Danial Jasnow, Human Rights First, at JasnowD@humanrightsfirst.org



365 Days of Action to End Gender-Based Violence aims to extend the 16 Days Campaign into a yearlong movement by developing a National Action Plan to End Gender Violence.  The 365 Days was introduced in South Africa in the nationwide consultations during the 2005 16 Days Campaign, which included cyber-dialogues hosted by the Government Communication and Information Services (GCIS) and Gender Links.  The National Action Plan was drafted in a May 2006 conference hosted by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), UNICEF and Gender Links; participants, including government, civil society, UN agencies, media and other stakeholders, pledged their commitment by signing the Kopanong Declaration that emerged from the conference.  A National Action Plan is an important tool designed to strengthen efforts to end gender violence by holding governments, civil society and other stakeholders responsible for their commitments. 


Namibia recently became the second South African Development Community (SADC) country to endorse the 365 Days, and others in the process of adopting the campaign include Zimbabwe and Mauritius.  Over the next two years, GEMSA plans to introduce the campaign to at least four countries in the SADC region per year.  According to GEMSA CEO Kubi Rama, “With the 365 Days of Action we can measure the impact of our strategies, maintain a continuous focus on the delivery of the different aspects of gender justice, and develop an organised response that carries us throughout the year.” (Natasha Tibinyane. “From 16 to 365 Days of Action.” Sister Namibia.  Vol. 18, No. 4.  Sept. 2006.  11)


As noted in a fact sheet developed by Gender Links and available through the South Africa NGO Network (SANGONet, see link below), there is a strong connection between the 365 Days Campaign and the UN SG’s 2006 In-Depth Study on All Forms of Violence Against Women, as both highlight the significance of comprehensive National Action Plans, national and local strategies, political commitment and sustained action, and government support for NGO work in struggles against gender violence.

For more information, contact:

www.genderlinks.org.za or Loveness Jambaya, justice@genderlinks.org.za

Also a fact sheet is available at: http://www.sangonet.org.za/portal/images/stories/extend16daysto365.pdf