16 Days of Activism kicks off in Bulawayo

...as civic groups urge women to speak out

Gender empowerment groups in Bulawayo have embarked on vigorous campaigns against domestic violence, as efforts to mark the start of this year’s annual 16 days of activism.

The 16 days of activism against gender based violence start today and will end on December 10 under the theme #HearMeToo.

This also coincided with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women that was commemorated yesterday.

Various activities by women and youth organisations will take place in Bulawayo to encourage women to speak out, share their survival stories and inspire those who are afraid to break their silence.

In an interview with CITE, Emthonjeni Women’s Forum (EWF) Programmes Manager Melissa Ndlovu, said this year the organisation would push to amplify community voices against gender based violence.

“As an organisation we educate and empower communities especially women on gender based violence, the referral pathway of dealing w gender based violence and social safety nets,” said Ndlovu.

“We work with men, both traditional and religious leaders towards responding and preventing gender based violence through community mobilisation strategies such as SASA faith, male engagement forums moving towards providing a holistic approach in dealing with gender based violence.”

She said EWF this year will focus mainly on sexual abuse among other forms of violence against women.

“This year we are commemorating the 16 days of activism in Insiza and Umzingwane where our focus is on ending all forms of violence against women especially sexual abuse,” said Ndlovu.

Women Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) Communications Manager, Mthokozisi Ndebele, said this year’s theme was aptly aimed so women in whatever sphere, receive a platform to share their experiences and encourage others to do so as well.

“#HearMeToo follows a successful movement, #MeToo, which exposed the level of harassment women have endured. This year’s theme is meant to encourage women to speak out, if one comes out she will encourage more to do the same,” said Ndebele.

“We want women to grow a loud voice so they tell us that they survived and share their stories with others.”

He added: “WILD will be doing numerous activities that would include young women and men because we want to breed a new kind of respect and culture for women where men play a part and understand situations.”

Youth For Innovation Trust (YIT) Founder, Thando Gwinji, said young people should take advantage of the 16 days and speak out against specific violence affecting women in Bulawayo.

“It’s time young people become vocal and speak out on the specific violence affecting young women in Bulawayo especially students on attachment,” said Gwinji.

“As YIT we try to be innovative and use social media to condemn abuse among young women as social media is commonly used to spread violence.”

She also said young women are victims of date rape, which is why conversations surrounding this campaign must also involve young men who commit such type of violence.

“From research we found out that young women are often date-raped and it has become a common thing. This is worrying, which is why we will include young men in our multi stakeholder conference with a hope to influence a positive respectful culture,” said Gwinji.

The international 16 days of activism campaign originated from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute coordinated by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991.



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