16 Celebrities Who Support The Cause to End Violence Against Women

Ending violence against women isn’t the most “cuddly” of campaigns because to support and advance this cause is to face and acknowledge the ugly side of humanity. Indeed, the wall of silence and taboo still surrounding violence against women and the sheer scale of this most widespread of human rights issues often become an obstacle that prevents ordinary people, as well as celebrities, from getting actively involved with the cause.

The 16 celebrities who have made our list have overcome that obstacle with gusto, and have shown dedication, commitment and energy in the campaign to end violence against women, for good. All 16 celebrities have used their fame, influence and fund raising capacity in a positive way- and our blog post today goes some way to show our thanks for their efforts. Continue reading

16 Online Resources for Escaping/Healing from Violence Against Women

Some of the most difficult – and often, most dangerous – part of the work done by activists, organisations, grassroots groups and individuals for the cause to prevent and stop Violence Against Women (VAW) is helping women to escape and heal from the violence they have experienced. In cases where gender-based violence takes the form of domestic violence or culturally sanctioned ritual violence such as Female Genital Mutilation, an additional difficulty lies in getting women and girls to take steps to get or accept help to escape the violence being done to them.

In today’s 16 for 16 blog entry, The Pixel Project presents 16 resources for women wanting to get help escaping or healing from various forms of VAW as well as those who wish to understand why and how a particular form of VAW occurs in order to successfully help the women and girls who need it.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of resources but it is a good starting point. To access the resource for each type of violence just click the hyperlink.

It’s time to stop violence against women. Together.

Edited and introduced by Regina Yau; Research and summaries by Eliska Hahn. Continue reading

10 Silver Lining Stories on Mother’s Day

Today we feature a special Silver Lining post to share ten uplifting stories about using Mother’s Day as a catalyst for action on the issue of violence against women.

Mother’s Day Silver Lining Story 1: Actor Javier Bardem talks about violence against women in the Congo, where rates of sexual violence against women and girls are the highest in the world. In a PSA for Raise Hope for Congo, Mr. Bardem asks people, on Mother’s Day, to give mothers and daughters in the Congo a chance for peace.

Mother’s Day Silver Lining Story 2: Nicholas Kristof writes in the New York Times about people who have chosen to “commemorate motherhood by saving the lives of mothers halfway around the world.” His story focuses on Edna, a nurse and midwife in Somalia who provides family planning services and works to end female genital mutilation.

Mother’s Day Silver Lining Story 3: Florence Crittenton Programmes in the U.S. state of South Carolina has started an interesting initiative. Called “Adopt a Mom to Honour a Mom,” the programme enables donors to sponsor a young mom to help end the destructive cycle of violence and poverty.

Mother’s Day Silver Lining Story 4: The idea of a creating a Mother’s Day gift with meaning is behind this idea from Inspired Gift Giving: small cello bags filled with toiletries, cosmetics, or fragrance for the women in a shelter. Full details are here, in a post called Honour Victims of Domestic Violence This Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day Silver Lining Story 5: A mobile spa in the U.S. state of Michigan is also hoping to pamper women in a local shelter. The Lavender Mobile Spa will spend Mother’s Day weekend at HAVEN, a centre that counsels victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

Mother’s Day Silver Lining Story 6: In Rhode Island, also in the U.S., the Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County holds a Mother’s Day Garden Campaign to raise money for victims of domestic violence. The campaign sells cards and put out a call to local artists for a design that signifies the theme of “new beginning.” The winning design was submitted by an artist who is an abuse survivor herself.

Mother’s Day Silver Lining Story 7: Still on the theme of gifts, middle school students in the American city of Stamford, CT are teaming up with a moving company in the Movers for Moms programme. The programme collects everyday necessities, such as toiletries, soaps, lotions and baby formula, and donates them to local shelters.

Mother’s Day Silver Lining Story 8: A consortium of domestic violence activists in San Francisco, CA held a Mother’s Day press conference on May 5 to ensure that funding for their services is maintained despite the city’s budget deficit. They noted that because of their work, domestic violence homicides are down 80%!

Mother’s Day Silver Lining Story 9: The Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence in Corvallis, OR held an upbeat event on May 7. Called  the Mother’s Day Run/Walk for Safe Families, the event included a 5K run/walk and a Family Fun Fair. Funds raised help sustain the organisation’s shelter, advocacy services and education programme.

Mother’s Day Silver Lining Story 10: Lastly, a lovely fundraising and awareness-raising idea from a group of women’s shelters in Ontario, Canada. The annual Daisy of Hope campaign runs during the month of May. The campaign sells daisy pins as part of a “province-wide public awareness and fund raising initiative aimed at ending the vicious cycle of domestic abuse and promoting violence-free living.”

We wish a mothers everywhere a happy and peaceful Mother’s Day full of love and laughter!

 

Activism 101: 10 Alternatives to Flowers for Mother’s Day

With Mothering Sunday just around the corner, florists are doing roaring business, restaurants are booked solid and chocolates are flying off the shelves.

Our mothers – and mother figures – are very lucky indeed… and we are lucky to have them in our lives, be they our biological mother, adopted mother, foster mother, grandmother, godmother and even aunts.

For those searching for an alternative to the flowers, chocolate and meal-out options, or perhaps for those who are searching for a meaningful way to commemorate Mother’s Day while supporting the cause to end violence against women, here are 10 alternatives to the traditional gifts:

Alternative to Flowers 1: Volunteer together! If your mom is active in your community – or even if she is not – it’s worth suggesting to her that the two of you could spend Mother’s Day morning volunteering at your local women’s shelter or rape crisis centre to help bring some joy to the mothers and children there. Have a nice lunch or dinner together afterwards.

Alternative to Flowers 2: Spread  Some Sweetness. If you and your mom enjoy baking, consider baking a batch of cookies, muffins, brownies, pies, cake and/or other sweet treats for the women and children at your local women’s shelter. Deliver it to the shelter in person and ask to help distribute it to the women and children. Share the experience of spreading smiles amongst mothers and their kids who have not had a reason to smile in a very long time.

Alternative to Flowers 3: Become Patrons. Get together with your mom to select a anti-Violence Against Women nonprofit/charity which you can jointly support for one whole year. Support can come in the form of volunteering together for a year, making recurring small donations to them or taking part in their campaigns.

Alternative to Flowers 4: Share the Day. If you are taking your mom out for a Mother’s Day meal and you know a woman who is suffering from domestic violence or recovering from rape, consider inviting her along and treating her to a meal. This may be the only respite she can get and it’s an understated way to show that you both care if you feel uncomfortable about talking about it.

Alternative to Flowers 5: Smart Shopping. If you prefer to buy your mother a beautiful gift, consider buying products from companies, co-ops and non-profits whose products and merchandise are sold to raise funds to support the end to violence against women. Some recommendations: Emerge Global has a jewellery range made by sexual abuse survivors in Sri Lanka. If your mom prefers perfumes etc, Avon is one of the few companies whose charitable foundation focuses on ending domestic violence.

Alternative to Flowers 6: Get Reading! If your mom is an avid reader, consider getting her a book (or e-book if she has an e-Reader) about violence against women. Some recommendations: Nick Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s Half the Sky, Lisa Shannon’s A Thousand Sisters: My Journey into the Worst Place on Earth to be a Woman and Nujood Ali’s I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced.

Alternative to Flowers 7: Get Watching! If your mom is a movie fan/film buff, consider getting her a movie which includes themes about violence against women as a thoughtful Mother’s Day gift. The movie need not be a no-holds-barred documentary, but it could be something ultimately uplifting that both of you could watch together and talk about later on. Some recommendations: Practical Magic weaves themes of dating violence into a magical settingWhat’s Love Got To Do With It showcases Tina Turner’s journey from an abused wife to independent superstar. If your mom is a documentary fan, try Sin by Silence by Olivia Klaus.

Alternative to Flowers 8: Get writing! If you’re a regular blogger with an interest in women’s issues including violence against women, take up the challenge of writing a thoughtful Mother’s Day blog post dedicated to your mom while raising awareness about violence against women. Post it. Share it. Submit it for a Mother’s Day blog carnival. Talk about it with your mom.

Alternative to Flowers 9: The YouTube Declaration. Get your digital recording camera out to record a YouTube declaration against violence against women dedicated to your mom. Submit it to The Pixel Project’s Wall of Support campaign and share the YouTube link with your mom.

Alternative to Flowers 10: Donate in Her Name. Make a small donation to a charity/nonprofit organisation working to end violence against women of your mom’s choice in her name. Send a cheque to your local anti-Violence Against Women nonprofit. Alternatively, go digital by donating to online fundraisers such as our Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign. A little as US$5.00 can buy a child in Women’s Aid Organisation’s refuge two nutritious hot meals per day or provide a free NCADV handbook for U.S. domestic violence survivors to help them get back on their feet again.

– Regina Yau, Founder and President, The Pixel Project

The Pixel Project Op-Ed: World Human Rights Day – The Importance of Hope

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: You don’t give up.” – Annie Lamott

Today is World Human Rights Day and I find myself smiling and feeling inspired by this short video by The Girl Effect:

Some of the more cynical amongst us might think that this video, while all snazzy visuals and catchy tunes, is unrealistic because it makes the solution to the far-reaching and complicated impact of poverty on girls seem so simple.

It is because it is a common sense solution that has been staring us in our faces.

It isn’t because even the most obvious solutions take a lot more time and effort than we think.

When it comes to violence against women, which has long been a widespread, deep-seated, and chronic human rights violation that is culturally and socially sanctioned to various degrees in communities worldwide, it is important to remember this:

That change and the solutions for change may take more time and effort that our current Instant Gratification tendencies would like.

You can’t have change appear overnight, just because we snap our fingers, demanding for it NOW. Not the real long-lasting change that is needed to truly end violence against women. Changing the world – to rid it of violence against women – is a long hard journey where we have to face up to some of the worst atrocities and the ugliness of humanity, no doubt about it.

Yet we mustn’t let all that sour us on humanity and embitter us about the world to the point where we attack potential but non-traditional allies (men, religious leaders) or succumb to Ostrich Syndrome (i.e. burying one’s head in the sand, hoping that ignoring the violence will make it go away).

Instead, we should, as Annie Lamott points out: wait and watch and work and never give up.

Hope is needed more than ever in a cause as difficult as the cause to end violence against women in our communities and across the world.  If we do not hope or see any hope for humanity, we will be admitting defeat and we cannot let cynicism and jadedness take us down and paralyse us with the finger-pointing and Eeyore pessimism that comes with it.

With hope, we will be able to take action and to keep ourselves motivated no matter what we have to face to end violence against women.

With hope, we will be able to see the opportunities and possibilities that will give us more creative solutions and momentum for ending violence against women wherever we are in the world.

With hope, even if we know that the change we seek will not come in our lifetime, we know that we will create enough momentum and enough legacy so it will become the reality for future generations.

I know this much is true because whenever I encounter anyone who tells me that violence against women is too intractable a problem to solve, here is the story I tell them:

The women on both sides of my family went from bound feet to Rhodes scholar in 4 generations. It took roughly one whole century for us to get to where we are but we did it because the women who came before me refused to give up hope:

My paternal great-grandmother’s feet were halfway through the foot-binding process when the practice was made taboo for good and she ensured that my paternal grandmother was educated.

My maternal grandmother was illiterate and survived over half a century of an abusive marriage but she ensured that my mother and her sisters all finished high school. My mother in turn ensured that I went much further than her and I did – I graduated from Oxford University about 100 years after my great-grandmother’s feet were still being bound.

So don’t tell me we can’t end violence against women. The women on both sides of my family have proven that when there is hope and determination, we can ensure that our daughters do not suffer the same fate that we do.

And I come from one of the most misogynistic and patriarchal cultures in the world – Chinese culture.

I am determined to carry this legacy of hope, determination and strength forward. The positive changes to the status of women that I have witnessed in my own family is what I am determined to achieve when I started The Pixel Project – that the next generation of little girls (and the generation after them) will eventually never suffer violence just because they were born female.

Yes, those changes are not perfect – my family still suffers from the trickle-down effect of the violence that came before and we still struggle with cultural traditions when it comes to men’s attitudes towards women – but it is real, solid change and it is progress.

So here I am, on World Human Rights Day, sending out this message of hope and hoping that you will join in the fight to end violence against women instead of succumbing to bitterness, cynicism and apathy.

Solutions and ideas don’t run by themselves – they need us to make them a reality and to make them work for the 1 in 3 women and girls worldwide who face gender-based violence in their lifetimes.

After all, if WE don’t step up, who will?

It truly is time to stop violence against women. Together.

Regina Yau, Founder and President, The Pixel Project

Remembering the Montréal Massacre

Twenty-one years ago today, a lone gunman who blamed feminists for ruining his life walked into Ecole Polytechnique in Montréal and killed fourteen women. Two years later, the federal government of Canada established December 6 as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

On the twentieth anniversary of the tragedy last year, a writer for The Globe and Mail, a major paper in Canada, stated that women in Canada are doing well, especially compared to women in other parts of the world, and that we in Canada should just “get a grip and move on.”

Her article stung me then and still does. It is true that many women in Canada have a good life, and that we have opportunities here that women around the world do not. But that does not mean that we can simply get a grip and move on from the events of December 6, 1989.

The National Day of Remembrance is not about a single incident of misogyny and violence. It is about remembering the women whose stories do not make headlines. Here are some numbers from Canada that reflect the reality for those women:

  • 51% of Canadian women have had at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16. http://ow.ly/3cXDH
  • Over 86% of all criminal sexual assaults in Canada are against women. http://ow.ly/3cXUO
  • Every minute of every day, a Canadian woman or child is being sexually assaulted. http://ow.ly/3cXDH
  • 11% (1.4 million) Cdn. women 15 & older have been stalked in a way that made them fear for their safety. (http://ow.ly/3cXLw
  • 1 to 2 women are murdered by a current or former partner each week in Canada. http://ow.ly/3cXDH
  • Domestic violence—which is just one of many ways that violence against women is manifested—has a far more serious impact on women than men. Women are 2 times more likely to be injured than men, six times more likely to need medical attention than men, five times more likely to be hospitalised than men, and twice as likely to report ongoing assaults (ten or more) than men. http://ow.ly/3cYdK
  • Yet women are reluctant to report the crimes against them. Only 36% of female victims of spousal violence and less than 10% of victims of sexual assault reported crimes to the police in 2004. Why? Because they are afraid of the offender, ashamed, and embarrassed. http://ow.ly/3cXDH

Get a grip and move on? Is that an appropriate response to these women? No, it is not. The National Day of Remembrance is a chance to raise awareness about the many women in Canada and around the world who continue to suffer from gender-based violence. It is one of the only times in a calendar year that we actually talk about violence against women, an issue that is too often swept under the rug. So let’s remember. And let’s act so that maybe, one day, we will be able to move on.

Crystal Smith, Blog Editor, The Pixel Project

It’s Not Just Domestic Violence: The Beginner’s Guide to 16 Types of Violence Against Women

“Violence against women and girls is a problem of pandemic proportions” – United Nations Development Fund for Women

Courtesy and copyright of Jillian Edelstein (www.jillianedelstein.co.uk)

There are many reasons why Violence Against Women is possibly the most widespread and intractable human rights violations in human history: It is embedded in social structures; It is part of cultural customs; It is due to gender inequality; It is due to gender-based economic inequality; It is due to patriarchal strictures… the list of factors goes on and on and many have expounded on it.

Yet even while it is so entrenched an issue, many people have problems recognising gender-based violence even when they are come face-to-face with it simply because:

  • It has become normalised or institutionalised as part of cultural practices; or
  • It has become so taboo that it is glossed over as a non-issue or swept under a rug too controversial an issue to discuss; or
  • It has become acceptable social or relationship behaviour.

Even if people do face up to gender-based violence as an issue, they might not realise the scale of the violence because, more often than not, they conflate violence against women with the particular type of gender-based violence that they are familiar with.  A typical example is how many people equate domestic violence with violence against women when domestic violence is actually a type of violence against women.

To effectively combat violence against women wherever it happens , we believe that people need to be aware of the full range of these human rights violations in its many forms so they can prevent, stop and end it in whatever guise it appears. While gender-based violence is undoubtedly a complicated issue, we all have to begin understanding the full extent of this worldwide atrocity.

In honour of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, The Pixel Project presents a quick list of 16 major types of violence against women. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is a start. To learn about each type of violence in more detail, click on the hyperlinked terms.

Type 1: Domestic violence. Also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse or intimate partner violence. Broadly defined as a pattern of abusive behaviors by a partner in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family, friends or cohabitation.Domestic violence takes many forms including physical aggression; sexual abuse including incest and marital rape; emotional abuse; controlling or domineering; intimidation; stalking; passive/covert abuse (e.g., neglect); and economic deprivation.

Type 2: Rape. Rape, in a nutshell, is any form of sexual intercourse without consent. It doesn’t have to involve penetration. As long as you say no, it’s rape. Even if you’re in a position where you can’t say no (like being unconscious, for example, or blackmailed), it’s rape.

Type 3: Rape as a Weapon of War. When part of a widespread and systematic practice, rape and sexual slavery are recognized as crimes against humanity and war crimes. Rape is also recognised as an element of the crime of genocide when committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a targeted ethnic group. Examples of rape as a weapon of war include the Rape of Nanking, the ongoing mass rapes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the mass rape of thousands of women during the Serb-Bosnian war.

Type 4: Sexual Assault. Sexual assault is an assault of a sexual nature on another person and are most frequently by a man on a woman. While sexual assaults are associated with the crime of rape, it also covers assaults which would not be considered rape. Sexual assault may include rape, forced vaginal, anal or oral penetration, forced sexual intercourse, inappropriate touching, forced kissing,child sexual abuse, or the torture of the victim in a sexual manner.

Type 5: Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/FGC). Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female genital cutting (FGC), refers to the cutting away of part or all of a girl’s external genitalia for cultural or non-medical reasons. Although a worldwide practice, it is most prevalent amongst certain African, Middle Eastern and Asian communities. FGM is most commonly performed on girls aged between four to 14—usually without their consent.

Type 6: Honour Killing. An honour killing (also called a customary killing) happens when a woman is murdered by a family member out of the belief or suspicion that the victim has brought shame to the family, clan or community. Murdering the person is believed to salvage the family’s honour.

Type 7: Forced Marriage. In a forced marriage, the bride is forced into a marriage against their will. They may be physically and/or emotionally threatened, usually by their families, or tricked into going abroad where they find themselves stranded without support or money, and with someone who demands their right of marriage.

Type 8: Human Trafficking. Human trafficking is what slavery, as a business, looks like in the 21st century. It describes the procurement of people against their will through force or deception, to be transported, sold and exploited for everything from forced prostitution to slave labour to human sacrifice. Trafficking victims are stripped of their basic human rights and treated as commodity.

Type 9: Bride Trafficking. In countries like Taiwan, China, South Korea and Japan, a phenomenon has emerged where men who have trouble finding wives resort to buying one from abroad. This has led to the growing business of bride trafficking. Immigrant spouses come from China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia and North Korea. Trafficked brides face a number of risks including domestic violence and forced prostitution.

Type 10: Breast Ironing. Breast ironing is the pounding and massaging of a pubescent girl’s breasts using heated objects, in an attempt to make them stop developing or disappear. It is typically carried out by the girl’s mother in an attempt to protect the girl from sexual harassment and rape, to prevent early pregnancy that would tarnish the family name, or to allow the girl to pursue education rather than be forced into early marriage. It is mostly practiced in parts of Cameroon, where boys and men may think that girls whose breasts have begun to grow are ripe for sex.

Type 11: Foot Binding. Foot binding was a custom practiced on young girls and women for approximately one thousand years in China, beginning in the 10th century and ending in the first half of 20th century. Binding the feet involved folding the toes back against the sole of the foot and breaking the arch of the foot to achieve impossibly tiny feet. Foot binding could lead to serious infections, possibly gangrene, and was generally painful for life. This is the only form of violence against women that has been successfully abolished.

Type 12: Stalking. Stalking can be defined as the willful and repeated following, watching, and/or harassing of someone, usually in order to force a relationship unto that person. Although stalking is illegal, stalking behaviours such as gathering information, calling, sending gifts, emailing or instant messaging are legal. Such actions can become abusive when frequently repeated over time. The rise of the Internet has led to cyberstalking—the use of technology to pursue, harass and stalk victims. Cyberstalkers target their victims through chat rooms, message boards, discussion forums, and email.

Type 13: Eve Teasing. Eve teasing is a euphemism used in India and sometimes Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal for public sexual harassment, street harassment or molestation of women by men, with Eve being a reference to the biblical Eve. it is a form of sexual aggression that ranges in severity from sexually suggestive remarks, brushing in public places, catcalls, to outright groping. Eve-teasing has been a notoriously difficult crime to prove, as perpetrators often devise ingenious ways to attack women.

Type 14: Street Harassment. 80% to 100% of women worldwide face at least occasional unwanted, harassing attention in public places from men they do not know just because they’re female. This harassment and an underlying fear of sexual assault causes women and girls to be in public less often than they would otherwise and to be on guard while there, especially when they are alone or it is night. Men’s harassment of women because of their gender is rarely seen as socially unacceptable. Instead it is portrayed as complimentary, “only” a trivial annoyance, a joke, or women’s fault based on their clothes.

Type 15: Prostitution. Prostitution is the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment. Today, human trafficking is primarily for prostituting women and children. It is described as “the largest slave trade in history” and is the fastest growing form of contemporary slavery. It is also the fastest growing criminal industry, set to outgrow drug trafficking. Prostitutes often face violence including rape and murder.

Type 16: Stoning. is a form of capital punishment whereby a group throws stones at a person until the person dies. No individual among the group can be identified as the one who kills the subject. Stoning is slower than other forms of execution, and hence is a form of execution by torture. The most high profile cases in recent years all involved women including Amina Lawal (Nigeria) and Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani (Iran).

– Regina Yau, Founder and President, The Pixel Project

Activism 101: 16 Ways to Volunteer for the Cause to End Violence Against Women

As a nonprofit that is completely staffed by a dedicated team of volunteers, The Pixel Project is profoundly grateful for the outpouring of support, skills and pro bono services that our people put to work for the cause to end violence against women (VAW).

By working together even though we are scattered over 4 continents, 12 timezones and 15 cities (and counting), we were able to mount campaign after campaign as a virtual team; And as we count down to the launch of our Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign on World Human Rights Day (10 December 2010) and our 2nd anniversary as an organisation on 7 January 2011, we are also counting our blessings that come in the form of volunteers who have stuck with us and faithfully carried out their roles, some for more than 18 months to date.

While we wrote about 16 ways to take that first step to help the cause, 16 ways to speak out against VAW and 16 ideas for online campaigning, today’s blog post is in honour of the fantastic volunteers who have toiled tirelessly with us on the long road to the end of VAW:

Today, we bring you 16 ways to volunteer for the cause to end VAW.

But first, for first-time volunteers – a few tips about volunteering for the VAW cause:

Tip 1: Honour Your Promises. Be realistic about what you can or cannot offer any nonprofit you choose to volunteer with and be clear about it to manage expectations. The worst thing you can do is overpromise a nonprofit and then go AWOL, leaving them, fellow activists, victims and survivors dangling when they need your help the most.  In the case of the cause to end violence against women, the stakes are higher than most because resources that don’t appear may cost someone her life.

Tip 2: Look at your skills and find a match. Volunteering for the cause to end violence against women is not confined to working the helplines at rape crisis centres or helping out at battered women’s shelters. There are plenty of different roles and avenues where you can leverage your personal and professional skills to help the cause. We have certainly found that volunteers that work in roles that match their skills are happier in the long run. For example, our Copywriting and Editorial team are staffed with professional copywriters who happily put their writing skills to work for our campaigns.

Tip 3: Treat your volunteer work as a job. Volunteering is a commitment. Only volunteer if you genuinely have the time and energy to spare. If you wouldn’t inexplicably disappear from your paid job whenever you wish, don’t do that for your volunteer commitments.  Period.

Tip 4: Be patient. The staff or core teams of nonprofits of any size or stripe are often extremely overstretched. For the cause to end violence against women in particular – we are dealing with violence doesn’t stop for anything: not for national holidays, not weekends, not even during the wee hours of the morning when everyone is supposed to be asleep.  So if the staff are slow in sending feedback or getting back to you on anything, be patient and send reminders. Better still – volunteer to pitch in to help alleviate their workload.

Still interested in volunteering for the cause to end violence against women? Read on for the 16 ways to volunteer for the cause:

Opportunity 1: Seasonal volunteering. Not enough time or energy for an ongoing volunteer gig? Consider an annual volunteer session at your local battered women’s shelter or rape crisis centre over the Christmas-New Year period. Many are on skeleton staff then and most volunteers would be away for the holidays.

Opportunity 2: The company-nonprofit match. If you work for a company that encourages employees to volunteer, it may be worthwhile proposing to management that a local VAW nonprofit working be added to their roster of nonprofit partners. Then round up your co-workers and get volunteering on weekends!

Opportunity 3: Polish those skills. For those who are currently unemployed, contact your local VAW nonprofit to check for volunteer openings or offer to put your professional skills at their service be it marketing, accounting, event organising, administration etc. Volunteering is one of the best ways to keep your skills sharp.

Opportunity 4: Get virtual. With the internet being ever more ubiquitous these days, virtual volunteering whereby people volunteer online for social media, marketing, professional and advocacy roles are increasingly popular. Any job or skill that lends itself to telecommunity/workshifting would fit in with virtual volunteering. Not sure where to find virtual volunteer opportunities? The Pixel Project is completely run by virtual volunteers. Check out our programmes!

Opportunity 5: Get with the grunt work. Be prepared to be roped in to help with events such as marches, candlelight vigils and charity dinners. So be ready to put in the legwork and to help with hauling stuff about.

Opportunity 6: Put it on your credit. Your class credit, that is. If you are a college/university student, find out if you can get class credit on an internship with a VAW nonprofit. If it’s all systems go, then contact your nearest VAW nonprofit with a letter from your university and arrange to start volunteering.

Opportunity 7: Watch the Dates. Many VAW nonprofits put on special campaigns to coincide with active activism periods marked by annual event dates connected to the cause such as International Women’s Day (8 March) , Domestic Violence Awareness Month (October) and 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence (25 November – 10 December). Be aware of these dates and approach your local VAW nonprofit to offer to work on projects they have planned for those dates.

Opportunity 8: Start small. If you can only spare less than 3 hours per week for volunteering, consider negotiating with your local VAW nonprofit for just one weekend shift that you can honour weekly or help them with specific and simple tasks that only take up the amount of time you have available.

Opportunity 9: Rally the herd. If you are the sociable type, it’s worth rounding up a few friends who are also interested in helping the VAW cause and pooling your hours to work together as a team on projects for your local VAW nonprofit. Or you could propose a volunteer project to the nonprofit and work with your group and the nonprofit to make it a success.

Opportunity 10: Be flexible. Many VAW nonprofits are horribly short-staffed and so most staff multitask and also take on responsibilities beyond their job scope. Think of it the same way with your volunteer gig – you might have signed up to help with admin work but also be prepared to help out at events, calls to the media etc. Think of it as expanding your skills set.

Opportunity 11: Use your sabbatical. If you work for a company or organisation that allows staff to take short sabbaticals, consider devoting your sabbatical to volunteer work with your chosen VAW nonprofit.  This may help you get a more fulfilling volunteer experience as you will be able to focus on your volunteer work rather than balancing it with the demands of your normal job.

Opportunity 12: Get Problem-solving. Volunteer opportunities are not always advertised. If you hear of your local VAW nonprofit having a need that needs filling such as a funding shortfall or losing staff, step up to volunteer your help with addressing their problem.

Opportunity 13: Ditch the chequebook. Are you a small or medium-sized business owner? Start a volunteer programme with your local VAW nonprofit for your staff to participate in and ensure that you work with the nonprofit to jointly administer the programme. After all, a helping hand is oftentimes more valuable than just a cheque.

Opportunity 14: Join a volunteer organisation. Nonprofit volunteer organisations such as Soroptimist International, Rotary Club and Lion’s Club as well as various local women’s organisations are a way to get a structured volunteer experience where you can volunteer with a range of nonprofits and projects benefiting the VAW cause.

Opportunity 15: Bridge It. Do you have a fat rolodex? Does your company have products and resources that a nonprofit would welcome? Do you know where to get the best deals? Volunteer to act as a bridge between the nonprofit and others who can help them with resources, funding etc. Leverage your networks for the greater good!

Opportunity 16: Weekends, weekends. Too stretched during the week to spare any time to volunteer? Consider setting time on the weekend to help your local VAW nonprofits, be it taking a helpline shift at the rape crisis centre or helping with home repairs at the battered women’s shelter.

These are just some of the ways you can volunteer to help the VAW cause – for more ideas, look to websites such as Ammado, Idealist.org and TakingITGlobal where there are thriving communities of volunteers who work on any number of creative nonprofit projects.

What are you waiting for? Get volunteering because it truly is time to stop violence against women. Together.

– Regina Yau, Founder and President, The Pixel Project

Activism 101: 16 Films About Violence Against Women 2010

One of the most powerful tools that nonprofits and activists for any cause can have for shaping public opinion and galvanising public support for causes is the power of film. The power of film can cut both ways, particularly with extra sensitive issues such as violence against women.

Indeed, there are so many ways the power of film can work against the cause and more often than not, violence against women in movies are gratuitously portrayed to draw and titillate audiences. Some films even border on or cross the line into undiluted, unapologetic misogyny manifest as violence and control  – witness pornography and even mainstream films such as Michael Winterbottom’s horrendous movie that he attempted to pass off as “art” – The Killer Inside Me. Films such as these numb the (wo)man on the street to violence. Worse still, the violence against women so blithely depicted in many movies rated just G or PG-13 may well inure growing boys and girls to the realities of violence, thus potentially grooming yet another generation who would see violence as a non-issue.

As Nicole Kidman, Goodwill Ambassador for UNIFEM, admits: Hollywood does have a role in perpetuating stereotypes and romanticising violence against women.

However, demonising film would be throwing out the baby with the bath water.

The key to the influence of film is HOW film is used to represent violence against women to the masses. The key is to see film as a tool:

Done well, a powerful documentary, movie, public service announcement, music video or television episode can give might momentum to helping activists and nonprofits working to end violence against women motivate grassroots support for the cause.

Done right, the film-maker will be able to walk the balancing act of accurately depict the horrors of violence against women while inspiring the viewer to join the movement to end violence against women.

As part of our contribution to Day 8 of the “16 Days of Activism”, The Pixel Project would like to shine a light on 16 films that will present much food for thought about violence against women. In the mix are documentaries and movies as we believe that both film formats have their strengths:

Film Number 1: Desert Flower

‘Desert Flower’, based on the bestselling memoir by supermodel and FGM activist, Waris Dirie, tells the story of Waris’s incredible journey from a nomadic life in the deserts of Somalia to the world’s most famous catwalks. This was a dream and a nightmare at the same time. In New York, at the peak of her career, she tells in an interview of the practice of female genital mutilation that she had to suffer when she was five. Waris Dirie decides to end her life as a model and dedicate her life to fighting this archaic ritual.

Film Number 2: The Stoning of Soraya M

This drama is set in 1986 Iran and centered on a man, Sahebjam, whose car breaks down in a remote village and enters into a conversation with Zahra, who relays to him the story about her niece, Soraya, whose arranged marriage to an abusive tyrant who brought trumped-up charges of infidelity against her tragically ended with her stoning.

Film Number 3: The Rape of Nanking

In 1937, Japanese troops entered the Chinese city of Nanking and began raping and murdering its citizens in an orgy of violence that has few parallels in modern history. This polished film follows the struggle of the late Chinese American journalist, Iris Chang, in her struggle to bring one of the darkest chapters of history to light. Ms Chang committed suicide in 2004.

Film Number 4: Sin By Silence

Sin By Silence is a documentary by Olivia Klaus about Convicted Women Against Abuse (CWAA), the first inmate initiated and led group in U.S. prison history and shatters the misconceptions of domestic violence. CWAA was created in 1989 to help women inside prison break the silence about the abuse that drove them to kill their abusers and learn more about what they needed to do to help others stop the cycle of violence. This film has been 9 years in the making.

Film Number 5: Tapestries of Hope

“Tapestries of Hope” is a feature-length documentary by Michealeane Risley that exposes the myth behind the abuse of young girls in Zimbabwe and brings awareness to the efforts of the Girl Child Network Worldwide and their fearless founder Betty Makoni.

Film Number 6: Recovering Irma

Recovering Irma is a feature-length documentary film that crystallizes in the aftermath of domestic violence homicide as Sandra and her nephew Lorenzo embark upon a road trip from San Francisco to her parent’s hometown of El Paso. Along the way, Sandra and Lorenzo will meet with perpetrators, survivors, law enforcement officials, front line domestic violence experts asking the question, “How do we stop this?” As the road trip unfolds, Lorenzo will quickly discover this journey is a chance to see what he could become if he doesn’t change. Sandra’s hope is that by going back to where it all began, generations will have a chance to remember, heal, change, and ultimately be set free.

Film Number 7: Precious

‘Precious’ is an award-winning film adaptation of the 1996 novel Push by Sapphire and is widely acclaimed for its realistic and thought-provoking depiction of domestic violence. The plot revolves around an overweight, illiterate teen in Harlem who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction.

Film Number 8: Senorita Extraviada

Since 1993, over 400 young women have been raped and murdered in Juarez, Mexico. Authorities ignore pleas for justice from the victims’ families, and the crimes go unpunished. Most disturbingly, evidence of government complicity remains uninvestigated as the killings continue to this day. SEÑORITA EXTRAVIADA is a haunting film by Lourdes Portillo about a heinous crime wave amid the corruption of one of the world’s biggest border towns.

Film Number 9: Finding Dawn

Finding Dawn is an award-winning documentary about a tragedy in Canada which is surprisingly similar to the situation in Ciudad Juarez. Dawn Crey, Ramona Wilson and Daleen Kay Bosse are just three of the estimated 500 Aboriginal women who have gone missing or been murdered in Canada over the past 30 years. Acclaimed Métis filmmaker Christine Welsh embarks on an epic journey to shed light on these murders and disappearances that remain unsolved to this day.

(Summary adapted from Women Make Movies – www.wmm.com)

Finding Dawn (Trailer)
– Watch more Videos at Vodpod.

Film Number 10: Love, Honour and Disobey

Domestic violence in all forms—from physical abuse to forced marriages to honour killings—continues to be frighteningly common worldwide and accepted as “normal” within too many societies. Getting to the heart of current multicultural debates, ‘Love, Honour and Disobey’ reveals the issues around domestic violence in Britain’s black and ethnic minority communities through the eyes of the Southall Black Sisters, a small group of women who have been working to combat abuse for more than 25 years.

(Summary courtesy of Women Make Movies – www.wmm.com)

Film Number 11: After The Rape – The Mukhtaran Mai Story

In 2002, Mukhtaran Mai, a rural Pakistani woman from a remote part of the Punjab, was gang-raped by order of her tribal council as punishment for her younger brother’s alleged relationship with a woman from another clan. Instead of committing suicide or living in shame, Mukhtaran spoke out, fighting for justice in the Pakistani courts—making world headlines. Further defying custom, she started two schools for girls in her village and a crisis center for abused women.

(Use of this video is courtesy of Women Make Movies – www.wmm.com)

Film Number 12: Backyard (El Traspatio)

This movie focuses on Blanca Bravo (Ana de la Reguera), a tough, idealistic young policewoman trained at the national police academy in Mexico City is assigned to Ciudad Juárez where young women disappear here with alarming regularity, one per week on average, most of them poor migrant factory workers. Some are found weeks later, dumped in the desert, murdered and mutilated, and some simply vanish. All are nameless victims of crimes that go uninvestigated by a male-dominated police force who treat these crimes as little more than a nuisance. Acting against the orders of her superiors, Blancas own investigation into the disappearances reveals something far more disturbing, exposing an ugly truth about the very core of society.

Film Number 13: NO! The Rape Documentary

This award-winning, ground-breaking documentary, explores the international reality of rape and other forms of sexual assault through the first person testimonies, scholarship, spirituality, activism and cultural work of African-Americans. Winner of an audience choice award and a juried award at the San Diego Women Film Festival, NO! also explores how rape is used as a weapon of homophobia.

Film Number 14: Amazing Grace

While this biopic about William Wilberforce, the legendary English abolitionist, is not directly about violence against women, it has an activist heart that provides inspirational viewing for all who work tirelessly to end violence against women. Change walks a long hard road but as Wilberforce shows, eventually, if we keep working at it, we will change things. This movie can also be used as a springboard for discussing modern-day slavery and human trafficking/sex-trafficking.

Film Number 15: The Greatest Silence: Rape in The Congo

Shot in the war zones of the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006, this film breaks the silence surrounding the tens of thousands of women and girls who have been kidnapped, raped and sexually tortured in that country’s intractable civil war. The filmmaker, herself a survivor of gang rape, talks with activists, peacekeepers, physicians and with the rapists themselves. She travels to remote villages to meet rape survivors who have been shamed and abandoned, providing a piercing, intimate look into the horror, struggle and ultimate grace of their lives.

Film Number 16: Call + Response

CALL+RESPONSE is a first of its kind feature documentary film that reveals the worlds 27 million dirtiest secrets: there are more slaves today than ever before in human history. CALL+RESPONSE goes deep undercover where slavery is thriving from the child brothels of Cambodia to the slave brick kilns of rural India to reveal that in 2007, Slave Traders made more money than Google, Nike and Starbucks combined. This star-studded film also uses the power of music to send out an inspiring anti-trafficking and anti-slavery message.

These films make harrowing viewing but we hope that this selection will inspire you to watch at least one or two of these little-known films to learn more about violence against women. We also hope that it will inspire film-makers out there to start making more films that tackle this difficult subject.

It’s time to stop violence against women. Together.

– Regina Yau, Founder and President, The Pixel Project

*Photo by: http://www.anna-OM-line.com

Activism 101: 16 Ways to Speak Up and Break the Silence

“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

One of the most effective ways of bringing about change when it comes to stopping violence against women, is to speak up and speak out.

That seemingly simple act of speaking up becomes one that is supremely difficult for many people when they are asked to do it to prevent, stop or testify to violence perpetuated against the women and girls in their lives because:

To speak up to prevent violence means acknowledging that people you know and the culture you live in may be the ones committing the violence against women.

To speak up to stop violence against women oftentimes means confronting the fact that the violence exists through someone you know or the culture you live in.

To speak up to testify about an act of violence against women may mean coming up against your culture, and even your loved ones or friends.

Yet if we do not speak up – if YOU do not speak up – it will cost lives. It will cost the lives of women and girls in so many ways ranging from chronic lifelong psychological and health problems, to even death.

How many of us have not spoken up when we know and see our mothers, sisters, daughters, nieces, aunts, friends and co-workers are facing or have faced domestic violence, rape, female genital mutilation, street harassment or any other type of gender-based violence?

How many of us have retreated or are shocked into silence when we see the bruises, the drastic change in personality and even the broken bones staring us in our faces?

How many of us think: “It’s not my business” and just tune out the screams or hurry on by without even dialling 911 (or the police/emergency services in our respective countries)?

We at The Pixel Project and all our bethren working to end violence against women say: “To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards of (wo)men“.

In today’s post marking the 5th day of the 16 Days of Activism, The Pixel Project presents 16 ways of speaking up to break the silence surrounding violence against women:

Speak Up 1: Seize the ‘teachable moment’. When violence against women makes the news, such as the Roman Polanski scandal, Time magazine’s remarkable cover portrait of ‘Bibi’ Ayesha and Mel Gibson’s abusive recordings, use those news as a conversation point with your friends, your family and even your kids.

Speak Up 2: Share it. If you are a survivor or someone who witnessed violence against women in your family or workplace, don’t sweep it under the rug or just talk to your therapist about it. When you are ready to do so, share your story with others to show them that they are not alone and that it is possible to escape and leave the violence behind.

Speak Up 3: Tweet It. If you are on Twitter, it takes just a click of a mouse to tweet a news story or statistic about violence against women. Not sure where to get this information? You can either Google for it or follow nonprofits working to end violence against women such as The Pixel Project (@pixelproject) and retweet their informational tweets.

Speak Up 4: Go Artistic. If you are an artist or artisan, use your art form to break your silence – draw it, paint it, carve it, mould it, weave it. Use your art to amplify your voice, then exhibit it online or offline to raise awareness.

Speak Up 5: Blog It. Not comfortable verbally speaking up against violence against women? Write a blog post about it. Not comfortable blogging directly about the violence you personally witness? Use a news story as a springboard for discussing your personal opinion about it – it doesn’t have to directly reference your life but use the story as a vehicle for expressing your feelings.

Speak Up 6: YouTube It. If you don’t work in broadcasting but would still like to have your voice heard by an audience, consider recording your stand against violence against women and posting it on YouTube. Not sure where to begin? Try The Pixel Project’s Wall of Support programme where you will be joining a chorus of voices from around the globe speaking out against violence against women.

Speak Up 7: Set it to Music. Are you a singer? A songwriter? A musician? Write and perform uplifting, honest songs about violence against women. Help spread the message of change and hope to your listeners and fans.

Speak Up 8: Broadcast It. Do you work in broadcast television or your local radio? Push for educational content about preventing and raising awareness about violence against women to be included in the programming. It could take the form of a public service announcement, interview slots for local activists or even just playing songs standing up to the issue during your shift.

Speak Up 9: Get it Published. Are you a writer or a poet? Write and submit an OpEd or article to your local newspaper. Write a poem about the violence and how you feel about it… then share it online on suitable online forums, blogs and websites.

Speak Up 10: Write a Letter. Tired of seeing content and images that promotes violence against women in the media? Write a letter to the company/producer/director/artiste concered to express your concern and outrage.

Speak Up 11: Start a Petition. Feeling outraged about any act of violence against women in your community or country or even the world? Start a petition online and rally all your friends and family to sign it in protest before presenting it to the relevant authorities/governments/organisations.

Speak Up 12: Lobby. Lobby. Lobby. Horrified by the lax or non-existent laws tackling violence against women in your community, country or even the world? Get together with other likeminded people to lobby your representative in government to push through legislation that is sorely needed.

Speak Up 13: Join The Discussion. Not sure where to start? If you are on Facebook or any other social network site where people come together in groups to discuss the prevention and solutions to violence against women, join those groups and join the discussion list.

Speak Up 14: Wear Your Message. Get a t-shirt or two printed with snappy anti-violence against women messages and wear them. Or try wearing either a purple, white or purple-and-white ribbon that is signifies the movement. These moves will, more often than not, spark conversation and you can take it from there!

Speak Up 15: Teach It. If you are a parent, a teacher, a college professor or a sports coach, start proactively bringing up discussions about violence against women, why it is wrong and why it needs to be stopped. There are so many ways of bringing up the subject, ranging from one-to-one discussions to lessons plans incorporating the messages, to getting in experts from your local battered women’s shelter or rape crisis centre to speak to the young people in your charge.

Speak Up 16: Dial that Number. If you live next door to a domestic violence situation, or if you stumble upon a sexual assault situation anywhere, dial for emergency services (including the police) to let them know about the exact location of the act of violence, then rally other bystanders to step in together to interrupt the situation.

These are just 16 of many ways of expressing your opposition to violence against women. So please – don’t “sin by silence” anymore. Speak up and speak out because it really is time to stop violence against women. Together.

– Regina Yau, Founder and President – The Pixel Project