In this age of global interconnection through social networking and digital media, cause-focused campaigns have become powerful tools to raise awareness, educate the public, and bring millions of people together to effect change. Even with campaigns developed to be “on the ground,” they are marketed, tweeted, blogged, posted, liked, linked and shared to such an extent it can create tidal waves of movement and change.
Yet despite this movement, this global sharing, this reaching of virtual hands around the world and within communities, many activists still face considerable obstacles to ending violence against women (VAW). We still face: denial that violence against women exists or is an important issue; cultural taboos that prevent open and honest discussion; viewpoints that VAW is a “women’s issue instead of a human issue;” and hostility from men’s rights activists and extremists who seek to keep women “in their place.”
So today, in honour of all VAW activists, nonprofits, and grassroots groups that toil in such thankless situations to bring about positive change to the lives of women and girls facing violence; we present 16 of the most striking campaigns/programmes we have come across in the last year of our work, in no particular order. That many of them include men is an encouraging sign that the issue of VAW is becoming a human rights issue, not just a women’s issue.
What these campaigns have in common are:
- The built-in “water-cooler” factor that gets the community buzzing about the campaign and by extension, the issue of VAW.
- A good sense of what works in and for the culture and community where the activist/nonprofit/grassroots group is trying to effect change.
This year’s selection includes campaigns from 11 countries and take a wide variety of actions ranging from creating statement quilts to setting up a hairstylist training academy. We hope that these campaigns and initiatives inspire you to take action and get on board the cause to end VAW.
It’s time to stop violence against women. Together.
Introduction by Regina Yau; Research and summaries by Jennifer Gallienne; Edited by Carol Olson and Regina Yau
In February 2013, FORCE gained attention for a temporary monument in the National Mall’s reflective pool, which was a giant poem reading, “I Can’t Forget What Happened But No One Else Remembers.”
The Monument Project is a call to create a national monument to survivors of rape and abuse. In summer of 2014, FORCE will blanket the mall with a GIANT quilt made of survivors’ stories. The crowd-sourced quilt will also double as a picnic blanket, inviting the public to sit, eat, and talk. An online version of the Monument Quilt also exists and is a public platform where experiences of survivors can be shared, respected, and honored. Survivors can submit their stories at themonumentproject.org
Through the two-month long photo competition that ran from 9 December 2012 to 10 February 2013, UN Women encouraged young people to show the world what freedom from violence against women meant to them. As part of the UN Secretary General’s Say NO – UNiTE to End Violence against Women and Girls campaign, millions were encouraged to discuss and prevent violence against women through social media and on ground activation. “The photo competition has achieved its objective of building a mass momentum among the online community and awakened them to the ground realities on situation of women in the society. It has also given them pointers on what needs to be done,” said Yogesh Jadhav, a top 10 runner up.
A series of ads, developed as a creative idea for UN Women by Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai, uses genuine Google searches to reveal the widespread prevalence of sexism and discrimination against women. Based on searches dated 9 March, 2013, the ads expose negative sentiments ranging from stereotyping to outright denial of women’s rights. “When we came across these searches, we were shocked by how negative they were and decided we had to do something with them,” says Christopher Hunt, Art Director of the creative team. The idea developed places the text of the Google searches over the mouths of women portraits, as if to silence their voices.
In the past decade, nearly 5,000 women and young girls have been murdered and sexually assaulted in Guatemala. In Bárcenas, there are no street lights or reliable police protection. In response to the murders, the Women Workers’ Committee has created neighborhood watch groups. MADRE is providing the group with flashlights and whistles to distribute to women as an additional safety measure. MADRE and the Women Workers Committee will also build a hair salon in Bárcenas. Here, women can find a way to escape violence and poverty. The hair salon will provide job training in hair styling and help with job placement. It will also provide training in domestic violence intervention strategies, allowing newly-trained hair stylists to become counselors for their clients.
Stop Telling Women to Smile is an art series by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. The work addresses gender-based street harassment by placing drawn portraits of women, composed with captions that speak directly to offenders, outside in public spaces. The drawn portraits, which Fazlalizadeh designed to be plastered on public walls, include captions that are intended to speak directly to offenders of street harassment.
In response to the brutal Delhi Gang Rape, the World Bank joined forces with a Nepalese firm, Young Innovations, and the Computer Association of Nepal to host a Hackathon in Nepal on June 16 to find IT-based solutions. Over 100 youth joined the one-day session to design innovative applications aimed at preventing and reporting violence against women.
Saudi Arabia has launched its first major campaign against domestic violence . The ads in the “No More Abuse” campaign show a woman in a dark veil with one black eye. The English version reads “some things can’t be covered.” The Arabic version, according to Foreign Policy’s David Kenner, translates roughly as “the tip of the iceberg.” A Web site for the campaign includes a report on reducing domestic violence and emergency resources for victims.
Open Media Group in Croatia created, developed, and implemented a media campaign bringing awareness to violence against women. The media campaign consisted of four TV clips on the subjects of domestic violence, date rape, and trafficking, while the fourth TV clip shows that all three have the same root and are gender-based. The slogan of the campaign is “Silence is not gold” (as opposed to proverb “silence is gold”) and the TV clips were broadcasted on Croatian Television and RTL Croatia. Both televisions provided free media time, and, in eight months, the campaign lasted the value of broadcasting time is over approx. 2,3 mil. EUR. For this campaign OMG was awarded by ERSTE foundation (in Vienna) for the best European campaign.
UCLA’s student-run sexual assault prevention campaign, 7000 In Solidarity, gets its name from the estimated number of students at the university who will encounter sexual violence. The group encourages students to take a solidarity pledge to promise they’ll practice consent, intervene in situations where they see someone’s else’s consent being violated, and support survivors of sexual violence.To raise awareness about consent among the student body, 7000 In Solidarity created a graphic in response to “Blurred Lines,” Robin Thicke’s popular pop song that has sparked criticism for promoting rape culture.
YES! is a positive media campaign aiming to start a conversation on sexual consent. YES! works to get young people practising safe and consensual sex with good communication and respect. YES! collaborates work with Student’s Unions and other groups to establish locally-focused, individually-tailored campaigns to encourage consent culture and empower young people to stop rape and sexual assault.
Karma Nirvana, a charity which runs a helpline for victims of forced marriages, has been encouraging teenage South Asian girls who fear they are being taken abroad to enter into a forced marriage to hide a spoon or any other metal object in their underwear to set off the metal detector at the airport and avoid the flight at the last minute. Karma Nirvana founder, Jasvinder Sanghera, said, “When they go through security, it will highlight this object in a private area and, if 16 or over, they will be taken to a safe space where they have that one last opportunity to disclose they’re being forced to marry. We’ve had people ring and say that it’s helped them and got them out of a dangerous situation. It’s an incredibly difficult thing to do with your family around you – but they won’t be aware you have done it. It’s a safe way.”
The Voice of Libyan Women launched Noor: Shedding Light on Women’s Security Concerns in Libya. They utilised social media with #NoorLibya when the campaign launched on Friday, 5th of July (see press release). They deliberately chose the holy day of Friday, only days before the holy month of Ramadan, to launch the campaign, as it is a time which they believe the message is strengthened. In the Fall, they began seminars aimed at addressing women’s security issues throughout Libyan workplaces, schools, universities, and mosques, targeting audiences of both men and women, young and old.
We Can! is a global campaign that has touched over 3.9 million individuals worldwide who have pledged not to commit or tolerate violence against women. Singapore is the 16th country to join the movement.
We Can! Singapore took off at the beginning of 2013. With the tagline ‘Change starts with me’, the campaign hopes to mobilise over 1,000 individual ‘Change Makers’ – ambassadors of gender equality and non-violence – through art, performance, sports, community networks, and new media.
In May 2013, Women, Action & the Media, the Everyday Sexism Project and feminist author/activist Soraya Chemaly launched a campaign to call on Facebook to take concrete, effective action to end gender-based hate speech on its site. Since then, participants have sent over 60,000 tweets and 5,000 emails. Over 100 women’s movement and social justice organisations (including The Pixel Project) signed an open letter to Facebook and the organisers encouraged users of Facebook to send messages to its advertisers encouraging them to boycott Facebook until it addressed these concerns. Over seven days, men and women around the world sent more than 60,000 tweets using the hashtag #FBrape, and 5,000 e-mails to targeted advertisers, 16 of whom withdrew their advertising. Facebook has since pledged to evaluate and update policies, guidelines, and practices relating to speech and pictures that perpetuate violence against women and girls.