To mark the start of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, International Medical Corps’ Global Gender-Based Violence Advisor, Micah Williams reflected on the campaign.
Since 2005, International Medical Corps has worked globally to strengthen the capacity of healthcare workers and communities to provide care and support to survivors of gender-based violence. We have developed increasingly comprehensive programmes, providing broader support services and also working with communities on strategies to prevent violence. Currently, we are implementing programmes with focused or integrated GBV prevention and response activities in 16 countries.
Many special activities are in the works! As with other elements of GBV programming, campaign activities are designed with communities. We work with our UN and NGO partners, but also with local associations, community and religious leaders, women’s groups, teachers, youth representatives and many others to plan for 16 Days. It’s important that activities are appropriate to specific contexts, local needs and culture. And it’s always interesting to see the variety and creativity that emerges.
Last year, our programme in Cameroon, the team ran panel discussions in schools. School-based programming involves a lot of planning with communities and representatives. But working with youth is important when we think about prevention of GBV. Young people are still developing ideas about gender and patterns of behaviour that are more ingrained in adults. They are also at an important age to consider the benefits of equal and non-violent relationships.
In Lebanon, the team worked with a local NGO to run film-making workshops, where young men could create, direct, and film television ads on the topic of violence against women. The videos, inspired by trainings and discussions within the community about gender violence, were then shown on Iraqi and Lebanese stations throughout the 16 Days of Activism.
In Democratic Republic of Congo we will be celebrating women leaders as a way to inspire adolescent girls. Our fantastic team in Bukavu, eastern DRC will be bringing together 25 inspirational women from the community with 25 girls aged 12-17, to explore how these girls can become the next generation of women leaders. This is a very difficult time for the people of eastern DRC, so our work is more important than ever.
In Afghanistan, we will be focussing on child marriage and related violence. The team has planned to work closely with the government and local partners to bring the 16 Days of Activism into returnees’ settlements, women prisons, and women schools.
But I love the 16 Days campaign and I’m excited about all the country teams’ plans.
People often ask me if GBV work isn’t terribly difficult and discouraging. The work is certainly challenging, but it is positive work. Supporting survivors in recovery is rewarding and humbling. You can learn new things every day from survivors’ sources of strength and resilience. Working with people committed to supporting survivors and preventing violence is equally positive and encouraging. The 16 Days campaign is all about honouring those committed to ending violence against women and girls– and calling others to action. It’s about mobilising people toward positive social change, and for those of us engaged with this effort, there is nothing more exciting than that.