16 Ways for Survivors of Violence Against Women to Share Their Stories


Storytelling can a powerful tool for violence against women survivors. It can help educate bystanders and demonstrate the impact VAW has on a community. It empowers survivors, giving them a voice to share and make sense of their personal experiences.

Storytelling also has healing power. It is a catalyst for survivors experiencing a variety of emotions – pain, fear, guilt, confusion – and reminds survivors that they are not alone. By telling and listening to stories, survivors can connect with others who had similar experiences. Through this experience, survivors can build life-long relationships, and develop a louder, collective voice.

In this “16 For 16” article, we present 16 ways violence against women survivors can share their stories. These simple ideas touch on various platforms, including peer-to-peer, public, private, mainstream and more to help survivors use and benefit from the power of storytelling.

Written and compiled by Rebecca DeLuca.

Call To Action: Help us reach the $25,000 fundraising milestone for our Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign this holiday season by giving generously to our “16 For 16” fundraiser (which also includes #GivingTuesday)! Find out more and donate to get awesome book and music goodies at http://is.gd/16DaysGT2015 

Survivor Storytelling Suggestion #1: Activism Campaigns

There are many innovative campaigns that use unorthodox ways to tell and present survivor stories, for example: The Clothesline Project. The Clothesline Project is a vehicle for women affected by violence to express their emotions and share their stories, either anonymously or publicly. Survivors decorate a shirt, which is then displayed publicly with the shirts of other survivors on a clothesline. The hung shirts are viewed by others to demonstrate the impact violence has on our communities.

Survivor Storytelling Suggestion #2: Anonymous Apps

Telling your story can be a cathartic exercise, even if you’re not ready to publicly identify yourself as a survivor. There are many anonymous apps and websites that are a great platform for anonymous storytelling, including Whisper and PostSecret. Using anonymous apps, your story may be heard by thousands of users, and will have a positive impact on many.

keyboard-3-1470702Survivor Storytelling Suggestion #3: Blogs

A blog is a personal, online diary. Similar to using a journal, it gives you the opportunity to share your thoughts, questions, wishes and stories. Blogs can be made anonymous, or you can tell your story publicly. If setting up a blog seems like a daunting task, you have the opportunity to submit a post to someone else and allow them to circulate it for you.

Survivor Storytelling Suggestion #4: Connect with an existing organisation

Connecting with an existing organisation ensures your story will be heard. This increases the chances you will positively impact somebody else. Many organisations working to end violence against women produce survivor story series, including The Pixel Project’s Survivor Stories Project, Women Against Abuse, Hollaback!, and the Voices and Faces Project.

Survivor Storytelling Suggestion #5: Connect with journalists

When discussing violence against women, journalists seek out various angles, including survivor stories. There are various websites that you can sign up for which will allow you to receive story-calls from journalists, including Help a Reporter Out (HARO), to give you an opportunity to share your story.

Survivor Storytelling Suggestion #6: E-Books

Getting published is no longer as difficult with the option to self-publish. Now, you do not have to acquire an agent, distribute manuscripts, and wait for an acceptance. With the rise of the digital era, everyone has the option to write and publish their own e-book. Now, you can use e-books as a storytelling platform through either fiction or nonfiction.

Survivor Storytelling Suggestion #7: Educational Groups

Many high schools, colleges and universities have their own assault response centres or groups, focusing on violence against women or girls. Included in these services are counsellors or therapists on call to listen to your story privately. These groups also become an avenue to tell your story on a more public level by becoming a leader or ambassador.

Survivor Storytelling Suggestion #8: Facebook Groups

Joining a Facebook group is an instant way to connect to other survivors around the world. You are able to post questions, share resources, and give or receive support. It is important to note that while some groups may be private or secret and highly moderated, they are still public to a certain extent, as your Facebook profile is attached and the other group members will be able to identify you.

business-1-1485971-1279x1705Survivor Storytelling Suggestion #9: Magazine Articles

Being selected to be featured in a magazine about survivors is a way to tell your story to the masses. You may be asked to write an article yourself, or be interviewed by someone else. Magazines may be traditional, print publications or digital, including Together for Girls Safe Magazine or xoJane’s “It Happened to Me” series.

Survivor Storytelling Suggestion #10: Message Boards

Various organisations host message boards and support forums, including Fort Refuge. Here, survivors can connect with each other, share their stories or offer or receive resources. These boards are beneficial because they can be anonymous or public, and are also moderated by an admin or community member, ensuring negativity remains off the message boards.

Survivor Storytelling Suggestion #11: Opinion Editorial

As a survivor, you may have helpful, informed opinions on news headlines, law changes, and other issues and factors related to violence against women. One way to share your story is through opinion editorials in a newspaper, either digital or in print. Unlike traditional editorials, opinion editorials, also known as Op-Eds, are written from a subjective view and use personal experience to tell a story or argue a point.

Survivor Storytelling Suggestion #12: Podcast

A podcast is a digital audio recording that users can download and listen to on their own. Podcasts have been used for over 10 years and continue to gain popularity. Many people flock to podcasts because they can listen while doing other things, as opposed to video, television, or reading blogs. When telling your story via podcasting, you have a variety of options. For example: you can tell your story as a guest on a current podcast, including Mart Metcalf’s or The Ruth Institute’s podcast, or you can create your own.

Survivor Storytelling Suggestion #13: Poetry

A new form of therapy – Poetry Therapy – is developing because writing poetry is an extremely intimate and healing experience. It can also be a very personal or public experience, depending on your desires. You can write poetry for yourself, either in a journal or on a private blog. If you’re comfortable, you can also share your poetry online or a poetry reading.

Survivor Storytelling Suggestion #14: Twitter

Twitter is an easy, accessible way for survivors to tell their stories. Stories can be told independently through your own personal account, through an anonymous account, or through a hashtag, such as #RapeHasNoUniform. As Scott Berkowitz, Founder and President of RAINN, said, “having this whole community of other people who have been through something similar can be really empowering for people.”

Survivor Storytelling Suggestion #15: Volunteer at Events

Volunteering at events is an important way to tell your story because you will be connecting directly with supporters and activists. These events provide various opportunities for storytelling, including keynote speaker, presenter, or mingling with donors, volunteers, or guests.

Survivor Storytelling Suggestion #16: YouTube

YouTube is easily accessible, and one of the fastest growing social media platforms around. Accounts are free, and technology to record, edit, and upload a video are easy to use and inexpensive. Many people go to YouTube to tell, listen and share stories, especially about overcoming adversity. Julie Vu, aka Princess Joules, for example, recently shared her story about domestic violence. The video was viewed 100,964 in one week.

Transforming Personal Pain Into Positive Action: The Pixel Project’s 16 Female Role Models 2015


Today is the first day of 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence 2015 and The Pixel Project is kicking off our 16 For 16 campaign with our 6th annual list of 16 female role models fighting to end violence against women in their communities. The intent of this list is simple: to highlight the good work of the heroines of the movement to end violence against women wherever they are in the world. The women and girls in this year’s list hail from 18 countries and 4 continents.

Many of these outstanding women and girls have shown that it is possible to transform personal pain that came out of facing gender-based violence, into positive action to stop violence against women, empower themselves and to show other survivors that it is possible to move forward with dignity and happiness. They have refused to let bitterness and pain get the better of them, opting to stand up for themselves and for other women and girls instead. This year, we’re very proud to include a number of teenage activists who are campaigning against child marriage and acid attacks.

Others on this list may not have experienced gender-based violence inflicted on themselves but they have stepped up to do what is right: to speak up for women and girls who cannot do it for themselves, sometimes at great personal risk. All this requires immense courage, generosity of spirit and a strong enduring heart.

Without further ado, here in alphabetical order by first name is our 2015 list of 16 female role models. We hope that these women would be an inspiration to others to get involved with the global movement to end violence against women. To that end, we hope you will generously share this list via Facebook and Twitter to give these extraordinary 16 women and their work a moment in the sun.

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

Written and compiled by Regina Yau

Information for all role model profiles is sourced via online research and is based on one or more news sources, articles and/or The Pixel Project’s own interviews with them. The main articles/reports from which these profiles have been sourced can be directly accessed via the hyperlinked titles. Please do click through to learn more about these remarkable women.

Picture credits are listed at the bottom of the article.

Call To Action: Help us reach the $25,000 fundraising milestone for our Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign this holiday season by giving generously to our “16 For 16” fundraiser (which also includes #GivingTuesday)! Find out more and donate to get awesome book and music goodies at http://is.gd/16DaysGT2015 


Female Role Model 1: Andrea Medina Rosas – Mexico

Andrea Medina Rosas_croppedAndréa Medina Rosas is a feminist human rights lawyer and independent consultant who works towards defending murdered and disappeared women, many who come from Ciudad Juárez, the city on the border of Mexico and the United States notoriously nicknamed the ‘capital of murdered women’. When Andréa was a teenager her feminist mother created an organisation for advancing women’s rights. Their first case involved helping a rape victim. Fifteen years later, Andréa is devoted to working with survivors of sexual violence and legally advocating for an end to violence against women. Andréa believes that women from different cultures need to come together to talk about gender violence and to work together on solutions.

Female Role Model 2: Charlotte Campbell-Stephen – Australia and Kenya

Charlotte Campbell Stephen_croppedIn 2006, Australian aid Charlotte Campbell-Stephen was brutally attacked and gang raped for 8 hours by a violent Nairobi gang. Campbell-Stephen courageously reported her rape in a roomful of male police. She took her rapists to court even though she was told by the police that no one won rape cases in Kenya (the Australian embassy in Kenya even advised her to go home). She was supported throughout her gruelling years-long court ordeal by the women from Nairobi’s slums, and Geoff Kinuya, the detective to whom she first reported her case in 2006. In May 2015, the documentary about her fight for justice, I Will Not Be Silenced, was launched at the 2015 Human Rights Arts and Film festival in Melbourne.

Female Role Model 3: Chieftainess Mwenda (Sophia Thomas Chibaye) – Zambia

Cheiftainee Mwanda_croppedChieftainess Mwenda (Sophia Thomas Chibaye) rules over 111 villagers is on a mission to stop child marriage – a mission which began when, four years ago, she learned about the dangers of teen pregnancies. She told the Thompson Reuters Foundation: “”No one should allow a child in school (to marry)”. Mwenda believes that educating her communities is the key to ending the practice of child marriage: “Children can only be safe in a school environment. As long as they remain in school they are safe from marriage.”

Female Role Model 4: Flavia Carvalho – Brazil

Flavia Carvalho_CroppedFlavia Carvalho is a tattoo artist who decided to use her skills to help survivors via her project A Pele da Flor (The Skin of the Flower) through which she tattoos over scars women had suffered from acts of violence free of charge. Carvalho was inspired to do so after she met a client who wanted to cover up a scar on her abdomen that was the result of a violent attack by a man whom she had turned down. She told The Huffington Post: “Each tattoo would act as an instrument for empowerment and a self-esteem booster… The project’s name refers to the Portuguese expression “A flor da pele” (deeper than skin), which speaks of how strongly we feel when facing an extremely difficult or challenging situation.”

Female Role Model 5: Fraidy Reiss – United States of America

headshot Fraidy Reiss_croppedFraidy Reiss’s marriage to an abusive husband was arranged by the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community she came from when she was just 19 years old.  Reuss told NPR that she knew her husband for only three months before they were married, and that as she tried to raise her two daughters, she began to fear for their lives because her husband would lunge at her and describe in graphic detail how he was going to kill her. After courageously escaping her abuser and leaving the community, she founded Unchained At Last – a nonprofit dedicated to helping other American women escape arranged and forced marriages. Unchained At Last also offers women free legal assistance and representation, as well as assistance with the social services they need to rebuild their lives.

Female Role Model 6: Hadiqa Bashir – Pakistan

Hadiqa Bashir_CroppedWhen Hadiqa Bashir was 10 years old, her grandmother tried to pressure her into a marriage but she saw how one of her classmates who got married in the sixth grade suffered from severe domestic violence and, with the support of her uncle, fought her grandmother’s decision and won. Today, Hadiqa is a 13-year-old activist working to end child marriage in her culture while calling for families to send girls to school. She goes from door to door in her community to talk to parents of girls about the benefits of educating daughters. She said: “I realised that many other girls would suffer like my classmate, and that’s when I decided to start this campaign. Educate your children, don’t make them marry early, give them freedom. That is my message.”

Female Role Model 7: Inkosi Kachindamoto – Malawi

According to the UN Population Fund, Malawi has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world. The country is ranked 8th out of 20 countries considered to have the highest rates, and in 2012 one in every two girls was married before the age of 18. In June 2015, Senior Chief Inkosi Kachindamoto created a major stir when she annulled 330 customary marriages in Dedza district in the Central Region of Malawi, sent the children back to school, and fired the village heads who sanctioned the marriages. She told the Nyasa Times: “I don’t want youthful marriages, they must go to school … no child should be found loitering at home or doing household chores during school time.”

Female Role Model 8: Madeleine Rees – United Kingdom

Madeleine_Rees_(cropped)_compressedBritish human rights lawyer Madeleine Rees has worked on ending violence against women in the various roles and capacities she has taken on over her career. She was a United Nations official in Bosnia during which she blew the whistle on the role of UN peacekeepers in sex-trafficking. She has also helped shape the protocol for the investigation and documentation of sexual violence in war zones. Currently the secretary general of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), Rees said: “Stopping rape in war is never going to be entirely possible but there are ways to create more accountability.”

Female Role Model 9: Malika Saada Saar – United States of America

MALIKA headshot_CroppedMalika Saada Saar is a formidable activist and human rights lawyer who has devoted her life to advocating for the rights of women and girls. While at Georgetown University, Saada Saar founded Crossing the River, a written and spoken word workshop for mothers in recovery from substance abuse. The group eventually became the Rebecca Project, a policy and advocacy group which advocates for  women and families. The Rebecca Project’s notable successes include effectively lobbying for a ban on the practice of restraining incarcerated women during childbirth. Saar is currently the Executive Director of Rights4Girls, a human rights organisation that focuses on curbing violence against women through public policy and awareness.

Female Role Model 10: Massarat Misbah – Pakistan

Mussarat Misbah_croppedRenowned Pakistani beautician and entrepreneur Massarat Misbah was closing up one of her many beauty salons when she was approached by a young acid attack victim who begged her to help restore her face. Misbah was shocked at the disfigurement suffered by the young woman and decided to start a nonprofit arm of her beauty business called the Depilex Smile Again Foundation. To date, Misbah and her team have helped over 500 victims of acid attacks to restore their appearance through reconstructive surgery, apply for jobs, and rebuild their lives. Misbah told Women’s Agenda: “To me, Depilex Smile Again Foundation is a platform for survivors of acid and kerosene oil. It exists for them to come out of terrible situations and try to change their lives for the better.”

Female Role Model 11: Monica Singh – India and United States of America

Monica Singh_croppedA decade ago in Lucknow, India, Monica Singh suffered a brutal acid attack orchestrated by a man whose marriage proposal she turned down. Sixty-five percent of her body was burned severely and she had to undergo over 40 rounds of reconstructive surgery. Aside from rebuilding her own life as she works on her fashion career, she founded the Mahendra Foundation which provides support for other acid attack survivors. In her interview with The New York Times, she had this message for acid attack survivors: “Keep on living. Keep fighting. And be something that you always wanted to be. Forget that you lost your face, your soul is still intact, your mind is still intact. Keep on doing.”

Female Role Model 12: Muzoon Almellehan – Syria

Muzoon_Cropped16-year-old Muzoon Almellehan has been dubbed “the Malala of Syria” by her community of war survivors thanks to her tireless work to end child marriage over the past two years. Muzoon’s inspiration for her campaign began when she arrived in Jordan among an influx of Syrian refugees in 2013 and noticed that the rates of child marriage were rampant in the Za’atari refugee camp where she lives. UNICEF and Save the Children enlisted young activists to talk with parents about the importance of girls’ education. Muzoon joined up and quickly became an adept campaigner. She told the Daily Beast: “Lots people were listening [to me], even fathers… because I wouldn’t tell them in a forceful way, or say, ‘You have to send her to school.’ I’d initiate the debate and say girls’ education helps them the most.

Female Role Model 13: Sonita Alizadeh – Afghanistan

18-year-old Afghan music artiste Sonita Alizadeth uses rap music to push back against child marriage, including her own. When she was told that she would be married off as a teenage bride to a man she had never met, she wrote the song “Brides for Sale.” The song’s lyrics include: “Let me whisper, so no one hears that I speak of selling girls. My voice shouldn’t be heard since it’s against Sharia.” Sonita’s music video for the song features her wearing a wedding dress… and a barcode on her forehead as she pleads with her family not sell her off. Her parents loved the video and called off the wedding. Today, she uses her music to help other girls in danger of being sold off for marriage and to continue pushing against the tradition of child brides.

Female Role Model 14: Tania Rashid – Bangladesh and United States of America

Tania Rashid_croppedJournalist Tania Rashid has tackled the issue of violence against women through a story on gang rape in Bangladesh (which she had to pitch repeatedly for almost a year before it was accepted by Vice News), followed by her latest documentary production with Vice News, “Sex, Slavery, and Drugs in Bangladesh,“ gives appalling insight the daily happenings of Daulita which is the largest Bangladeshi brothel and the largest bordello in the world with more than 1,300 sex workers who serve over 3,000 men daily. Born in Saudi Arabia to a Bangladeshi father and Pathan mother before moving to the USA, Rashid was inspired by CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour to become a journalist dedicated to telling human rights stories.

Female Role Model 15: Peninnah Tombo – Kenya

Peninnah Tombo_croppedPenninah Tombo is a female genital mutilation survivor who has been harassed, threatened, and attacked by her tribe because of her dedication to helping Maasai girls escape female genital mutilation, forced early marriage, as well as helping them complete their schooling. In 1992, she founded Nasuru Ntoiye (Let’s Save the Girls) to advance her work. According to Tombo, her activism and advocacy on behalf of women and girls has met with stiff opposition because Masai men do not want their daughters to be educated and to learn they have rights. However, she continues to persevere and told the Los Angeles Times: “We are trying to change our way of living. We are trying to change the boys and girls, so that they can change our community.”

Female Role Model 16: Sima Basnet – Nepal

Sima Basnet - Sanjog Mandhar_CroppedSima Basnet and her friend Sangita Magar were studying at a tution center in Jhochhen, Nepal, when four masked men broke into the center, barged into the room, and splashed acid on them. Today, Sima speaks out against acid attacks. She told The Baltic Review: “I’ve always wanted to become a singer and I will not live in fear.” She adds: “I want some kind of justice, but I will go on with my life no matter what. This is my message to all girls and women out there; don’t give up.”


Photo credits:

  1. Andréa Medina Rosas – From www.nobelwomensinitiative.org
  2. Charlotte Campbell-Stephen – From “I Will Not Be Silenced” trailer (YouTube)
  3. Chieftainess Mwenda (Sophia Thomas Chibaye) – From www.trust.org
  4. Flavia Carvalho – From ‘This Tattoo Artist is Covering the Scars of Domestic Violence Victims Free of Charge’ (Buzzfeed)
  5. Fraidy Reiss – Courtesy of Fraidy Reiss (www.unchainedatlast.org)
  6. Hadiqa Bashia – From Hadiqa Bashir’s Facebook page
  7. Inkosi Kachindamoto – Courtesy of UN Women
  8. Madeleine Rees – From “Madeleine Rees (cropped)” by Foreign and Commonwealth Office – http://www.flickr.com/photos/foreignoffice/8650982041/in/photostream/. Licensed under OGL via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Madeleine_Rees_(cropped).jpg#/media/File:Madeleine_Rees_(cropped).jpg
  9. Malika Saada Saar – Courtesy of Malika Saada Saar (www.Rights4Girls.org)
  10. Massarat Misbah – From ‘Meet The Woman Changing The Face Of Domestic Violence In Pakistan’ (Women’s Agenda)
  11. Monica Singh – Courtesy of Monica Singh (The Mahendra Singh Foundation)
  12. Muzoon Almellehan – From ‘Meet The Malala of Syria’ (Nina Strochlic/The Daily Beast)
  13. Sonita Alizadeh – From Instagram – @sonitaalizadeh
  14. Tania Rashid – Courtesy of Tania Rashid
  15. Sima Basnet – From ‘Nepalese Attack Survivors: “I Won’t Live In Fear”‘ (Sanjog Manandhar/Baltic-Review.com)
  16. Penninah Tombo – From The Los Angeles Times.

The Pixel Project’s VAW e-News Digest – The “16 For 16″ 2014 Edition

News-Coffee9-150x150Welcome to our 16 for 16 Special Edition of The Pixel Project’s VAW e-News Digest. In this edition, we bring you the top 16 news headlines in each category related to violence against women over the past year.

2014 can be seen as a banner year for progress in the global fight to end violence against women with the movement to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) continuing strong momentum in the UK and debuting in the USA, more people than ever (including ‘Harry Potter’ star Emma Watson) speaking out in support of feminism and stopping violence against women, more educational efforts ranging from schools teaching children about what forced marriage is (Australia) and what FGM is (UK), and what looks like an increasingly number of men getting on board the cause via efforts such as UN Women’s #HeForShe campaign and the White Ribbon campaign.

To kick things off, here are 16 of the biggest trending VAW headlines of 2014:

Every contribution matters. If you have any news you’d like to share about violence against women, please email The Pixel Project at info@thepixelproject.net. If you prefer to receive up-to-the-minute news concerning violence against women, follow us on Twitter . It’s time to stop violence against women together.

Best regards,
The Pixel Project Team

Violence Against Women – General

Domestic Violence

Sexual Assault / Rape

Human / Sex Trafficking

Female Genital Mutilation

Honour Killing and Forced/Child Marriage

Street Harassment


The Pixel Project Selection 2014: 16 Striking Anti-Violence Campaigns for the Cause to End Violence Against Women

Give Peace a ChanceIn the past year we have come across groundbreaking campaigns and have been inspired by extraordinary women leading the fight against assault on women.  Women of different backgrounds have come together to add their voices in shaping a better future for women and girls globally.  Ordinary, yet brilliant, movements like ‘#YesAllWomen’ and ‘Take Back The Tech’, prompted frank and honest debates concerning sexual harassment online and in our daily lives.  Actress Emma Watson helped launched a new initiative—the ‘He4She’ campaign—with the UN in support of gender equality.  And the courageous 17-year-old, Malala Yousafzai, won the Nobel Peace Prize for her contribution to human rights and advocacy for the education of girls and women.

While we’ve seen progress, the ongoing battle that women face must be noted and addressed.  We live in a world where women are still regarded as collateral damage in war zones when they are taken hostage, raped or killed for political motives. Women are still the victims of hate crime as witnessed in the Isla Vista Killings. Women’s rights are still infringed upon in ordinary public settings, such as being harassed and touched without consent on the streets, as seen in Sam Pepper’s disturbing YouTube videos.  Add all this to domestic abuse of women in their homes, and it becomes startlingly clear that women are viewed as second-class citizens in many parts of the world.

So today, in honour of all VAW activists, nonprofits and grassroots group who 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.

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.

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.

– Written and compiled by Samantha Carroll

99c4edb83bStriking Anti-VAW Campaign #1: Act together in Prevention and Response to GBV and Child Abuse – Rwanda

The Rwandan government, with the support of the National Police force, took proactive steps in reducing violence against woman with plans to have the Isange One Stop Centre overhauled by 2017.  Isange, launched at the Kacyiru Police Hospital in 2009, provides free medical and legal services to those affected by violence. The campaign’s top priority was addressing the number of sexual crimes as well as spousal murders that take place within the country.  The Minister for Gender and Family Promotion, Odda Gasinzigwa, called on citizens to get involved and support the police in preventing gender-based violence (GBV) and the abuse of children.

cp_and_gbv_messages_english_pdfStriking Anti-VAW Campaign #2: Amani – Jordan

The ‘Amani’ campaign launched in Za’atari, a refugee camp in Jordan with a population of 81, 000 Syrian men, women and children who fled Syria after the civil war broke out in 2011.  Much of the harassment in Za’atari is faced by women and young girls and Amani’s goal was to protect children and women from violence while teaching Syrian women about agencies they could contact for help and spreading awareness. Social workers visited homes to provide information about gender-based violence and child protection.  The message of the campaign was: “Our sense of safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #3: #AmINext – Canada

Loretta Saunders was murdered while writing a thesis on violence against Aboriginal women in Canada.  In response, her cousin Holly Jarrett, started a petition on Change.org which received 320,000 signatures.  What followed was a viral campaign with Canadian women using the #AmINext hashtag on Twitter.  Women tagged friends to post an #AmINext selfie to draw attention to the widespread violence against Aboriginal women.  Many called on government and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to act.  It is estimated that there are 1,186 missing or murdered Aboriginal women in Canada.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #4: AWAM’s Nationwide Campaign on Domestic Violence – Malaysia

A nationwide campaign on domestic violence launched in July of 2013 and ran through to September 2014 in Malaysia.  SOGO Kuala Lumpur funded the campaign, which looked to provide information and services for families affected by domestic abuse.  A Community Message Video was released and used for public education and training activities.  Celebrities, non-governmental organizations, and service providers, such as Hospital (OSCC), Police (D11) and the Welfare Department (DV), all came together to lend their support.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #5: Blow the Whistle – South Africa

1 in 3 South African women will have been abused before the age of 18.  News headlines of grotesque rape and murders are as recurrent as they are shocking.  Legacy Lifestyle teamed up with South African celebrities and ambassadors to create the Blow the Whistle campaign.  The campaign intends to keep South African women and children safe by means of whistles as well as a mobile app.  Blow the Whistle urges men and ordinary bystanders to take charge and act when they witness atrocious crimes being committed against women.  Whistles are sold on the Blow the Whistle website, and the proceeds are donated to the DNA Project and the development of DNA forensic technology, which will ensure that perpetrators of rape are accurately identified and held accountable.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #6: Carry the Weight Together – United States of America

In August 2012, Emma Sulkowicz was raped in her college dorm room at Columbia University.  Sulkowicz reported her rapist to Columbia’s disciplinary panel who found him “not responsible”.  Thereafter, two more female students came forward and identified the same individual as their rapist.  This past September, Sulkowicz, a visual art student, did something novel, which sparked a nationwide movement on college campus’ around the US:  she began carrying her mattress with her everywhere and vowed that she would not put it down until her rapist was expelled or left Columbia on his own accord.   On October 29th, students from various colleges around the US amassed to Carry the Weight Together by carrying mattresses in support of Sulkowicz and other rape survivors, and raising awareness of sexual violence.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #7: #Choice4Life – Nigeria

A social media campaign that brought together young Nigerians set the web ablaze in support of safe abortion and stopping violence against women and girls.  #Choice4Life advocates encouraged the appropriate punishment for perpetrators of gender-based violence and the protection of women’s rights.  In the past year, one in ten Nigerian women said they had experienced violence.  The choice to use social media tools like Twitter successfully ensured that the youth of Nigeria were engaged in raising awareness.  The #Choice4Life campaign also opposed the sexual violence committed against school girls who were taken hostage by Boko Haram earlier this year.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #8: MAN UP – Ireland

ManUp was the first campaign in Ireland to adopt new national public awareness guidelines that were published by COSC (the National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence).   These guidelines moved to raise awareness of safety information for survivors while also focusing on the behaviour of perpetrators.  As the campaign name suggests, men were invited to participate in finding a solution for ending violence against women in Ireland.  The campaign took a bold approach by sharing stories that, albeit unsettling, were necessary to wake up the public, and men in particular.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #9: Man vs Woman: Stop This Match – Italy

This award-winning campaign by Avon and Looking for Water sought to eliminate violence against women through advertising.  ‘Man vs Woman: Stop This Match’, was created after it was noted that violence seemed to be a man’s favourite sport, with a woman seen as the fitting opponent for domination.  The campaign was also concerned with the subtle, nuanced, and non-violent ways in which women experience abuse via name-calling, humiliation, control and manipulation. The face of the ‘Man vs Woman’ campaign was Italian rugby union footballer, Mauro Bergamasco, who denounced violence against women.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #10: The National Anti-Rape Campaign (NARC) – Nepal

Nepal’s Anti-Rape Campaign has been busy for a little over a year trying to secure protection for women even after the failure of government to amend the nation’s rape law. A sit-in protest began at Bhadrakali, Kathmandu on April 29th after demands issued by campaigners were disregarded.  Campaigners demanded that new, effective laws against rape be implemented and aligned with human rights, a constitution that guarantees the rights of women be developed, and that the Truth and Reconciliation Committee have more female representation.  Action Works Nepal (AWON) has been actively participating to see that the ‘National Anti-Rape Campaign’ demands are met.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #11: #NOTokay – Canada          

#NOTokay, the social media campaign by the YWCA, began as a question:  “Why are we treating violence against women lightly in popular culture?”  The campaign highlighted music videos, internet memes and television programmes that show an industry that makes belittling, sexualising and abusing women seem normal and “okay”.  This campaign aimed to raise awareness about the media we expose ourselves and our children to and what consequences these misleading messages are bound to have. [TRIGGER WARNING: The animation clips below contain graphic depictions of violence against women.]

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #12: Shine a Light – Australia

Domestic violence claims the life of a woman every week in Australia and 1.6 million Australian women have experienced abuse in their homes.  It is said that less than half the victims report their cases to the police due to fear of social alienation or economic ruin.  The ‘Shine a Light’ campaign, created by the Herald and Daily Life, intends to raise awareness of violence towards women, hold government accountable, and create safer living environments for families across Australia.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #13: Spot of Shame – India

Stop Acid Attacks is an Indian organisation that aims to stop the brutal acid attacks suffered by 270 women every year.  This year the organisation started an intrepid campaign called Spot of Shame.  The campaign, held from 22 January to 2 February 2014, encouraged women to mark certain areas in cities (Spots of Shame) with black and yellow stamps, where victims were attacked, assaulted or abused.  The organisation targeted train stations as many women are raped on crowded trains or buses.  300 protestors converged in Mumbai at Bandra Terminus to lend support to the campaign.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #14: #StandUpWorldCup – The United Kingdom

Recent Lancaster University research showed that domestic violence can rise to 26 percent when the English football team wins or draws, and rises a further 38 percent when the national team loses a game.  The Tender Education and Arts group in the UK put together a campaign under the tagline #StandUpWorldCup, and produced a haunting PSA via YouTube.  The PSA depicts an anxious woman watching a football game and hoping with all her might that the right team wins because she knows the likelihood of what will happen if they do not.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #15: The Brave Is Not Violent – Brazil

Another World Cup campaign to stop violence against women was ‘The Brave Is Not Violent’ initiative launched in the 2014 host nation, Brazil.  The campaign aimed to alter sexist behaviour and highlight the responsibility of men to advocate for an end to gender-based violence.  Football fans who attended FanFests were approached by volunteers and received stickers with such slogans as ‘Valente not Violent’ printed on them.   UN Women in Brazil supported the campaign by installing trailers next to the FanFests where HIV testing was conducted and condoms were freely distributed.  The representative of UN Women in Brazil, Nadine Gasman, stated that a sporting event was a great occasion to draw attention to violence against women and to eradicate gender stereotypes.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #16: Women Confront VAW using ICTs – Uganda

The Association for Progressive Communication and Isis-WICCE partnered together to create an initiative that incorporated technology to combat violence against women in the fishing community of Namaingo, Uganda.  Although technology has advanced, many women in remote communities lack technical knowledge, skills and appropriate resources to properly engage with others already connected to the worldwide web.  The initiative provided ITC training which helped the women send out SMS messages to local leaders and the general public, denouncing acts of violence against women.  The SMS messages were sent in local language and helped educate the Namaingo community about VAW.

16 Ways You Can Make Online Spaces Safer For Women

For the 11th day of the 16 Days of Activism, we are pleased to share a special blog list of 16 actions that anyone can take to become upstanders taking make online spaces safer for women from our partner,Breakthrough and their Bell Bajao campaign (now Breakthrough India).

Note: For additional tips and ideas on how to take action to stop online violence, you can read our 2013 article on 16 ways men can help stop cyberVAW.


SearchQuick – what’s the first thing you think of when you see the phrase ‘safe public spaces’? For most of us, we see well-lit streets, marketplaces bustling with people of all genders, public transport where women don’t fear to tread. But how many of us stop to consider the less ‘physical’ world?

The online space is as legitimate a public space as any, and like the streets, marketplaces and buses around us, as prone to incidences of harassment and violence against women. A woman on the internet is may be subject to death threats, rape threats, or worse, and none of us are strangers to stories of harassment ‘forcing’ women being off social networks or gaming communities.

Fortunately, the solution rests with us – the citizens of the internet. We can act to create online spaces that are safer for everyone – here are 16 ways how:


Action To Stop Online VAW #1: Believe survivors when they say they have experienced violence. It takes a great amount of courage to come forward and share a traumatic experience publicly. It is difficult enough for survivors to share their stories, the last thing they need is to have their experiences doubted.

Action To Stop Online VAW #2: Know the law and don’t be afraid to use it. Several countries regard cyber crimes as criminal offenses. If you spot someone engaging in cyber threats , do not hesitate to bring them to justice, legally.

Help ButtonAction To Stop Online VAW #3. Intervene when you spot someone being vilified or bullied online. All you have to do is interrupt the conversation and distract the bully.

Action To Stop Online VAW #4: Watch your language when interacting online. A lot of the words and phrases we use frequently are riddled with sexism and idealise masculinity. For instance “don’t be such a girl” makes femininity out to be a negative thing, while “be a man” glorifies masculinity. The phrases we use have the power to tip or equalise the gender balance.

Action To Stop Online VAW #5. Use “block” and “report” liberally – one of the easiest things to do is report abusive or violent online behaviour. Social networks and major website usually have a very low-tolerance policy when it comes to offensive behaviour online and respond rapidly to reports.

Action To Stop Online VAW #6. Concentrate on the argument when in an online debate. The internet is a hotbed for discussion, debate and differences in opinion. When arguments get messy, don’t debase yourself by name-calling the other person. Focus on the point and hand and use reason and logic to make your point, rather than belittling personal attributes.

Action To Stop Online VAW #7. Don’t blame the victim. Whether online, or offline – NOBODY deserves abuse or violence. Don’t fall into the “they asked for it” or “they had it coming” arguments – these just reinforce patriarchal mindsets.

Action To Stop Online VAW #8: Don’t feed the trolls. Sometimes the best action is no action. Trolls make it their mission to disrupt or upset others around them. You can identify them by their resistance to listening to or accepting a point of view that differs from their own. Once you’ve spotted a troll, refrain from interacting with them entirely.

Action To Stop Online VAW #9: Respect the discomfort of others. We may not always know why another person feels uncomfortable during a conversation, but something that is trivial to us may be of great significance, or a trigger for them. Respect their situation if they tell you they are feeling uncomfortable and move on to another topic.

Action To Stop Online VAW #10. Call out abusive or offensive behaviour. Take intervention a step further, and instead of just interrupting the aggressor, call them out on their behaviour. A phrase like ‘that’s a sexist thing to say’ or ‘this is discriminatory’ or even ‘there’s no need to be aggressive’ can be all it takes to bring bad behaviour to notice.

Action To Stop Online VAW #11: Check your privilege. If English is your first language and you’re from a middle class family, you’re already at an advantage online. We often aren’t even aware of our own privilege before falling into shouting matches with others on the internet.

Girl in LaptopAction To Stop Online VAW #12: Encourage more women to come online. The greater the number of women in public spaces, the safer those public spaces are. Work towards gender-equality online by helping create it.

Action To Stop Online VAW #13: Show sensitivity towards other cultures. In a space where people from different countries and cultures intermingle. Be open to listening to the voices of those who have gone through different experiences and learn from their stories. Not everyone goes through the same life experiences.

Action To Stop Online VAW #14:. Stop body-shaming. Calling people names because you perceive them as too fat, too thin, wearing inappropriate clothing or makeup that isn’t professionally applied is just one of the ways the anonymity the internet provides enables such malicious behaviour. Don’t engage in it, and don’t tolerate it from others

Action To Stop Online VAW #15. Don’t marginalise other communities. Not just gender, but making comments that marginalise or demean individuals based on class, sex, race, caste, ability, sexual preference, age or weight all contribute to creating unwelcoming public spaces.

Action To Stop Online VAW #16. Make it visible. Finally, don’t hesitate to bring abusive or offensive behaviour to the public eye. Take screenshots, and spread the word. Make violence against women and girls in every space unacceptable.

16 Ideas for Helping Survivors of Violence Against Women Rebuild Their Lives


There is no single definitive solution for rebuilding one’s life as a survivor of gender-based violence because the personal journey to healing varies for each individual woman or girl. Though many have suffered these experiences, the conduit to recovery is a unique one. Every woman or girl reacts and processes her experience of violence differently; every individual heals and comes to terms with post-trauma at their own pace. In addition, the way each survivor deals with her trauma depends on the culture she is in, the community of which she is a member, and the resources to which she has access.

Although recovery is complicated, frustrating and long-term process that is always a work-in-progress, building a new life is not impossible for many survivors. In this article, we list out a number of actions and starting points that may be able to help clear a pathway to healing and make it a little easier for survivors and the network of potential supporters around them (e.g. friends, family, community) who are also often at a loss as to how to help ease their pain and be there for them on their journey. Together, both survivors and their supporters can work through the healing process and deal effectively with the traumatic experience.

We have divided our ideas/tips into a section for communities and a section for survivors themselves.  These suggestions are by no means comprehensive but we hope they will not only help with kickstarting the healing process for some survivors and their supporters, but also awareness that we can all help improve upon the how individuals and communities can mitigate and work their way through after-effects of traumatic experiences such as domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, and female genital mutilation.

NOTE: This article is a companion article to last year’s article about 16 ways you can help support VAW survivors which you can read in tandem with this article to get more ideas and suggestions that you may be able to apply to your situation/community.

Written and compiled by Ashley Sapp with additional content by Regina Yau. Introduction by Ashley Sapp and Regina Yau.


8 Ideas/Tips for Violence Against Women (VAW) Survivors

Survivor Tip #1: Acceptance

The first building block in reclaiming your life after the violence is acceptance because acknowledging what has occurred can help start you on the road to recovery. Much like with grieving, part of being able to move forward and rebuild one’s life is to accept what has happened to you and how it has changed you and your life. This is because denial may prevent you from acknowledging where your life currently stands and how to go about healing from your wounds, especially when it comes to the complications of living with the consequences of violence. Acceptance does not mean that you are “over it” because your healing process can never be rushed and many survivors find that it is a long-term process that requires constant work but it’s a process that requires a first step. And acceptance is that first step.

Survivor Tip #2: Self-Awareness

There is nothing more important than recognising the emotions and thoughts you may be having, particularly after a traumatic event. Shielding yourself from your own mind is akin to putting up a partition that prevents you from working through your experiences and hinders the healing process. Understand that although you are not alone and others have shared this type of experience, the way you heal and behave and react can and will be unique.  No one follows the same pattern, and this is okay. Also, everyone deals with this at their own pace, so whether you prefer to face it immediately or to put it away for a while until you have healed physically (if you have sustained physical injuries), it’s up to you. Just remember that it’s important to do so before your emotions and thoughts begin festering and causing you more hurt.

hobbiesSurvivor Tip #3: The Power of Creativity

Even if you are not the best writer or the most artistic person in the world, writing and crafts can serve as therapeutic tools after your traumatic experience. Very often, there is a feeling of loss after experiencing any sort of violence because violence is inherently destructive. Channeling your emotions and thoughts into words, art, dance, or music can be a pivotal part of working through everything that accompanies being a VAW survivor for several reasons. Firstly, creative activities may be able to help with revealing more about how you are feeling and dealing with what has occurred, and can also bring about new understanding that could be beneficial to your recovery. Secondly, creative activities may be a cathartic way for you find your voice after your traumatic experience. Thirdly, for some individuals, being able to create something using your hands and imagination may well be able to counteract the destructiveness of the violence inflicted on them by their abuser. For examples, see The Center for Women & Families.

Survivor Tip #4: Hobbies

If you are currently at a place in your recovery where you are not inclined to do creative activities, a simple activity you may want to consider undertaking is to remember the hobbies you enjoyed before the act of violence occurred. Even though you are dealing with a painful life-altering experience, it may help for you to remember some of the positive aspects of your life before the trauma. It can be easy to lose interest in hobbies and feel underwhelmed/ overwhelmed in general in the process of rebuilding yourself as a person and your life as a whole. However, if you are able to do so, being diligent about getting involved with the hobbies and activities that bring you joy (when you are ready) can be important in helping you because they can take you out of your mind for a bit into a place of happiness or, at least, comfort. In fact, if you have never had a hobby before, perhaps it is time to consider taking on one that can pique and absorb your interest effectively.

Survivor Tip #5: Use Available Resources

Sometimes it takes a long while for a survivor to reach this point, but the important thing is working towards being able to reach out and utilise all the tools and resources available around you that may be able to help you take the next step in reclaiming your life. Whether that means seeking help from family or friends, discussing what has happened with a survivors group, seeing a therapist, or calling a hotline number, feeling comfortable enough to explore your options is imperative to rebuilding. Some resources can be found on The Pixel Project’s Resources page.

Survivor Tip #6: Understand Timing

We all heal differently and within specific time frames and following our own distinctive patterns. No matter how quickly or slowly you move through the healing process, it only matters that you are moving through it at all. Comparing how you deal with your pain and how you manage your situation with how other survivors do it is unnecessary because there is no right or wrong way to go about it. Do what feels right. Do what helps you. But the main thing –the most important thing—is to take care of you. Listen to what your body and mind need and try to communicate that with both yourself and loved ones.

Survivor Tip #7: Unlearn Shame

Though hearing from others that what happened to you is not your fault can help, it is something you must learn and understand for yourself. You have no reason to feel guilty for your abuser’s/attacker’s actions because it was their choice to inflict violence on you. You have no reason to doubt that you are a survivor in every sense of the word, and though you will feel a bewildering range of emotions that come with being a survivor, shame should not be one of them. It is possible to unlearn shame as long as you continue to remind yourself of the truth: you are not to blame for what happened to you. Place post-its and reminders of this on your wall or your mirror until it sinks in. Another crucial step you can take in unlearning shame is to put distance between yourself and the people in your life and your community who insisting on blaming the victim (you) for what has happened to you. This is a difficult action to take as victim-blamers may include your family and friends but it is important to identify those who will recognise that it is not your fault and who will focus on helping you heal instead of making you doubt yourself.

Survivor Tip #8: Network, Network, Network

While your healing process and experience is unique to you, it is something that others are working through too. Joining a network of victims and survivors of traumatic events such as assault, rape, domestic violence, and female genital mutilation can help break down the barriers of feeling alone or unequipped to handle recovery. These are your peers who understand at least part of the emotional terrain that you are navigating and those who are further down the line in their own healing may have some helpful advice that you could apply to your own situation. Plus, sharing your own insight and tips with other survivors could help you heal as well. You can find support groups locally or online, in places like Trauma Survivors Network.

8 Ideas/Tips For Communities, Families, and Friends of Violence Against Women (VAW) Survivors.


Supporter Tip #1: Listen And Believe

When a survivor of any sort of gender-based violence or harassment—domestic violence, rape, female genital mutilation, and so on—reaches out to talk about her experience, she is not necessarily seeking advice. Instead, she is looking for a safe environment and people who will actively listen to her in a non-judgemental way. Survivors need to be heard and assured that their experience is important, instead of having their trauma explained away, blamed for what happened to them, or have decisions about their future made on their behalf without their consent. Nothing can change what has already occurred to the survivor, but having a trustworthy, stable, and accepting community of supporters (friends, family, helplines like RAINN) who believes her and does not blame her will do wonders for her recovery. Another advantage of making the commitment to listen to the survivor is that you will be better able to find out directly from her what she needs and what you can do to help alleviate her pain.

Supporter Tip #2:  Support In Appropriate Ways

For many VAW survivors, the healing process is a difficult one and what often brings the healing process to a halt is feeling too alone and isolated by the surrounding community to continue. As you listen to a survivor detail their feelings, thoughts, and experiences, it is important to remain supportive and to show that support in ways that the survivor is comfortable with. A few first steps you can take include: being reassuring, offering assistance when she needs or asks for assistance, doing research on healing resources for both you as a supporter and her as a survivor. Sometimes what is needed most by those who are recovering is simply knowing someone else will be there to help them and  walk with them through this journey of rebuilding. At the same time, amplify your public support for the survivor (and all survivors in your community) by challenging the attitudes of those around you who stigmatise the survivor. For example, if you hear someone shaming the survivor (or gossiping unkindly about them), speak up to call out that person’s behaviour.

Supporter Tip #3:  Do Your Research

Something that can help in any situation is to be well-informed, particularly when it comes to helping a VAW survivor in appropriate ways. One of the key steps to understanding the issues these survivors are facing as they progress toward healing (including: anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder) is to do your research – go online to educate yourself about them and what you can do to help the survivor. Although every survivor’s experience is unique, there are stages, symptoms, and signs of post-trauma recovery that the majority of survivors go through which you can learn to recognise in order to provide timely help. Once you are familiar with all this, you will be in a better place to take action to help  Here’s a quick starting point: Check out The Pixel Project’s VAW Facts section to learn about the different types of violence against women, then go to our “Getting Help” section to get checklists and tips for helping survivors.

Supporter Tip #4: Help Build Resources

Whether or not you are a survivor yourself, the issue of violence against women is faced by many; therefore, resources are invaluable in every community. If there are limited or no shelters, helplines, and funds nearby to assist survivors where you live, one place to start is with your employer or community center. Still no luck? Then start looking for ways to build resources in your community by raising awareness about VAW via flyers, community fundraisers, and networking with others who are willing to help create more resources and cognizance locally.  This can begin a movement in your community to ensure survivors have a safe environment to recover in while addressing victim-blaming and rape culture to effect wider social change.

Supporter Tip #5: Therapy Helps

Therapy can be beneficial part of the rebuilding process for survivors of rape, incest, domestic violence, and other forms of gender violence as it provides an additional level of help for healing on both an emotional and psychological level. However, therapy is not just for survivors – it can also be helpful for friends and family who are actively involved in helping the survivor. The right therapist can assist in better enabling you to be an effective supporter as someone equipped to help your loved one through this experience. There are sessions for you individually and that you can attend together with the survivor or as a group: utilise them. If private therapy is too expensive, find out if there are support groups or anti-VAW organisations nearby who may be able to help locate affordable therapy and counselling/guidance services for both survivors and the families/communities of the survivors.

Supporter Tip #6: Avoid Being Overbearing

While it is important to remain caring and supportive, there is a difference between doing so and being overbearing. Remember to respect the survivor’s needs. Do not push for more details when she is not ready nor should you try to “fix” problems or force her to talk beyond what she is comfortable discussing. Silence is not a bad thing and can in fact say quite a bit. Being there for a survivor means allowing her to be and to not pretend everything is okay.  When in doubt, ask the survivor about what she needs and how she would like you to help her. If she asks for some space or insists on accomplishing a task on her own steam, respect her decision to do so as this is part of her journey towards regaining her self-confidence and self-respect after the violence.

Supporter Tip #7: Be Attentive to Flashbacks or Panic Attacks

Flashbacks and panic attacks can be fairly common in VAW survivors, and responding to them in a compassionate and appropriate manner will go a long way towards helping the survivor manage and recover from these episodes. Help the survivor to breathe properly, let them know you realise this feels real to them, but remind them that it is not are all key actions to take. Describe her surroundings and have her do the same, turn off any triggering music/television, and bring the focus back to the moment. Remind the survivor there is nothing wrong with undergoing flashbacks or attacks, as they are an opportunity to understand and to work through her experiences. If the flashback or panic attack is very severe, call for appropriate medical or professional assistance.

Supporter Tip #8: Recognise The Importance of Self-Care

Finally: Friends and family of survivors of violence often experience their own feelings of guilt, shame, or loss of intimacy because they were unable to help the survivor when the violence was inflicted on her or feel helpless when faced with the survivor’s suffering. Chances are that you will also be affected by this experience, so be sure to help and take care of yourself through it as well because you need to keep yourself healthy on all levels in order to continue helping the survivor for the amount of time it would take for her to heal.

16 Ways to Educate Individuals and Communities about Sexual Consent


Valuing a women’s consent over her own body is an integral step towards ending violence against women. This means providing women the power to say “no” to sexual encounters, and for the word “no” to be respected in all situations. Myths depict rape and sexual assault perpetrators as strangers. However, two out of three rapes are committed by a person the victim knows. This occurs because sexual consent is either not understood or not respected.

Education is necessary to ensure everyone involved in a sexual activity is consenting, comfortable, valued and safe. Sexual consent education includes talking about how and when to ask for consent, how to say no, what constitutes consent, and the importance of respecting another person’s decision. Assault laws and consequences for a lack of consent should also be included in sexual consent discussions. These lessons will help end the countless sexual assaults that occur every day.

In this “16 For 16” article, we present 16 innovative ideas for educating children, young adults, and other members of your community about sexual consent.

Written by Rebecca DeLuca

Sexual Consent Education – Tip #1: Team up with local organisations

If you are assuming the responsibility of educating your community about sexual consent for the first time, it will be beneficial to connect with local organisations that focus on sexual consent and violence against women. Many organisations have already developed material and messaging that will help engage your audience and direct you in your educational messages. Speakers, educators, and classes may also be available.

Sexual Consent Education – Tip #2: Conduct appropriate research 
Sexual consent education will fail if the audience misinterprets, forgets, or ignores the message. Conducting research will help you prepare and construct a successful educational campaign and ensure message retention. Research can be done first-hand through interviews and surveys with your target audience. Information can also be found online. For example, Julie S. Lalonde conducted a Twitter survey about teaching male youth about rape culture. The responses – which can be found here – can help craft successful messages and sexual consent curricula.

Sexual Consent Education – Tip #3: Start an online newsletter
An e-newsletter is an easy and inexpensive way to keep your community updated and involved in sexual consent education. Publishing, professional templates and contact maintenance are available free of charge on various platforms such as MailChimp. The e-newsletter, which can be sent daily, weekly or bi-weekly, can include upcoming events, recent stories, educational tips, advice, and questions and answers to ensure your community is always up-to-date.

1361797_52190285Sexual Consent Education – Tip #4: Include consent-based education in school curriculum
Challenging school boards to alter curricula is difficult and education about sexual consent may not be allowed in certain classrooms. However, obtaining consent and respecting the word “no” are skills that can be taught in numerous other environments and to all age groups. For example, using consent-based education to help children negotiate the use of toys will help them develop the mentality necessary to understand sexual consent when they are older.

Sexual Consent Education – Tip #5: Make yourself a visible advocate
Making yourself or your group a visible advocate for sexual consent demonstrates to your community that discussing consent is not embarrassing or taboo. It is also a continuous reminder that you are available for discussions, assistance and advice. Tips for remaining visible include having booths at community events, sharing information about consent through your social media accounts, developing business cards with “Sexual Assault Advocate” listed on them, or speaking at events.

Sexual Consent Education – Tip #6: Create an anonymous question box
Though asking questions about consent is nothing to be embarrassed about, some people will feel more comfortable remaining anonymous. Creating an anonymous question box will help ensure more people get the answers they are seeking. You can place the anonymous box in the classroom, at your school, at various events, on community websites, or at your community centre, then either answer the questions via a general FAQ sheet that can be distributed to the community or contact the asker directly to answer his/her question.

Sexual Consent Education – Tip #7: Skits
Theatrical skits and performances are a creative, non-threatening way to discuss sexual consent. Scripts can be developed to discuss topics that affect your audience most, such as having sex for the first time, going away to college, or talking to teenage children about consent. While writing the script, acknowledge crucial moments in the plot to survey your audience on ways they would act. You can then discuss the correct and incorrect ways to proceed.

Kids_croppedSexual Consent Education – Tip #8: Introduce youth to other youth programmes

Research suggests people are more likely to retain and listen to messages if the sender is similar to them and faces similar concerns. Thus, an important strategy to educate youth in your community about sexual consent is through peer education. This may include introducing youth-developed campaigns such as The Girl Code Movement, Party with Consent, or Campaign4Consent to your community to show teenagers how their peers are getting involved. Other tools include peer groups and guest youth speakers.

Sexual Consent Education – Tip #9: Partner with bars, clubs and other local events to remind youth about consent
Reinforcing your messages about consent is integral, especially in high-risk situations. By identifying and partnering with organisations that have high-risk environments, you can help youth remember the importance of consent when you are absent. Partnerships with local bars, clubs and other events can include washroom poster campaigns, door stamps or wristbands easily-remembered reminders about consent on them.

Sexual Consent Education – Tip #10: Monitor the media
Media can be consumed anywhere: on television, radio, social networks, and through messaging and face-to-face interaction. As a result, youth are consuming more media, quicker than before. Monitoring the news and other popular culture makes you proactive in spotting news stories and headlines that are teachable moments for helping children and other young people understand what they see and hear, and answer important questions they may have. Conversation starters can include “The [event here] that happened yesterday scared me. What did you feel?” or “Why do you think [he/she/they] acted that way? What would you have done?”

Sexual Consent Education – Tip #11: Hold bystander intervention events
Bystander research states people will make judgements about their behaviour based on the reactions they receive from the people around them. Through proper bystander intervention education and training, bystanders learn how to prevent and ease potentially violent environments and become confident enough to intervene in various situations. Bystander intervention events are integral for both youth and adults, and can be held in school, as part of after-school activities, or as a prerequisite for team sports and other community groups.

Sexual Consent Education – Tip #12: Create and distribute visual content
Discussing consent should not be boring, overpowering or embarrassing. While facts, statistics and research are useful, they can often be overwhelming. To encourage youth understanding, use visuals. These can include bumper stickers, bracelets, or “What is Consent” pocket cards. Valentine’s day cards, for example, circulate messages about consent in an nonthreatening, creative way.

Sexual Consent Education – Tip #13: Develop safety slogans
Slogans increase retention and recognition for brands. However, they are not exclusive to advertising and marketing. Developing and utilising  slogans in your sexual consent education will help individuals recall information about consent. As slogans are easier to remember than facts and statistics, they will remind community members to make safe, smart decisions. Some examples of consent slogans are: “Yes means yes,” “consent is sexy,” and “a dress is not a yes.”

Sexual Consent Education – Tip #14: Introduce youth to available technology.
As mobile phone usage increases, young people can carry and access sexual consent information in their pockets. Developers have designed applications that emphasise the importance of consent, provide communication advice, answer anonymous questions and more. After researching mobile applications that are appropriate for your audience, location and goals, share them with your community. Or, if you cannot find an application that meets your unique needs, develop one with the help of your community.

1087539_11462380Sexual Consent Education – Tip #15: Start a Popular Culture Club.
Popular music, books, television and movies can help reinforce lessons about sexual consent by providing springboards for discussion. Through the sharing of books, movies and other media, a popular culture club allows community members to consume consent-positive media. The club, which can be developed online or in person, should also include a discussion section for members to share thoughts, insights and lessons learned with others.

Sexual Consent Education – Tip #16: Encourage community event participation. Encouraging participation in events that other organisations hold not only reinforces your messages, but also provides another outlet for engaged community members to support. Contact local organisations, look on your community’s event calendar, or connect with non-profits on social media to find upcoming events you can participate it in as a community.

The Pixel Project Selection 2014: 16 Films About Violence Against Women

Film-Reel-225x300 (1)One of the most useful awareness-raising and educational tools at our disposal is the craft of film. To portray the real experiences and lives of individuals—particularly women who suffer tragedy, abuse, and revival—is something not to be taken for granted. It is just one way to open public consciousness and heighten awareness to the breadth of the issue of violence against women worldwide.

However, it is common for filmmakers to use violence against women as shock value or to be gratuitous, implying that such violence is either blithe or exemplary.Such portrayals further perpetuate the notion that sexual assault and other forms of gender-based violence are a non-issue when in reality, they affect 1 in 3 women worldwide. Films that depict the violence girls and women experience in their daily lives are a great step towards building a better tomorrow simply by recognising the reality of today.

Many of the following films can be found online, which is yet another reason why video is a vital avenue for discussing worldwide and community issues like violence. Video-streaming sites like YouTube and Vimeo allow people to upload their own work or that of others, thus reaching a broader audience and bringing the conversation home. We hope that our 2014 selection of 16 documentaries show just how important film can be in advocating for the truth of these issues, enlightening audiences, and hopefully enabling others to join the fight to end violence against women.

Written and compiled by Ashley Sapp.

Selection Number 1: Casablanca Calling

Casablanca Calling is a 2014 documentary that showcases the social revolution slowly occurring in Morocco where approximately 60% of women have never been to school. Despite political conflict, Moroccan women are being trained for the first time to be leaders. The film follows these women as they circulate in schools and other sites, speaking on marriage, education, and employment. In doing so, the film highlights the promise of change and indicates the importance of empowerment among girls and women.

Selection Number 2: Defending Our Lives

The Oscar-winning documentary Defending Our Lives emphasises the seriousness and prevalence of domestic violence in the United States. The video features the testimonies of battered women who have been imprisoned for killing their husbands. The women in the film are members of ‘Battered Women Fighting Back,’ an organisation formed initially as a prison support group but expanded into a community-based task force. Each woman who appears in this video has experienced domestic violence firsthand via stalking, harassment, and abuse by their husbands and partners. The video focuses on how these women defended their lives and were subsequently put behind bars for it.

Note: Please go here to watch the trailer for this documentary as the video is unavailable on YouTube or Vimeo. TRIGGER WARNING: There are images that may be distressing for survivors of domestic violence.

Selection Number 3: Duma

Duma was a controversial documentary about the abuse women face in Palestinian and Arab societies. It is regarded as the first film to fully document and shed light upon the sexual abuse women face in Arab society. The documentary features women and the experiences they have endured at the hands of friends and family as well as the resulting silence imposed upon them. By giving voice to these perspectives, the film not only reveals the abuse but gives hope to survivors that they will no longer be silenced.

Selection Number 4: Heaven on Earth

In the 2008 film Heaven On Earth, a young Indian Punjab woman moves to Ontario, Canada, for an arranged marriage to an Indo-Canadian man. However, her husband is an abuser who continues to isolate her after she has already left behind her community in India. The film explores a real problem for immigrants who are victims of domestic violence as they struggle not only to find resources but also ways to communicate what is occurring in their home lives.

Selection Number 5: I Am a Girl

Simply by being female, girls are more likely to be subjected to poverty, violence, disease, and other disadvantages. The 2013 film I Am A Girl follows the lives and stories of various young girls and teens as they face forced marriage, pregnancy, and threats against their lives if they seek education. These girls live in places like Cambodia, Australia, New York, and New Guinea, signaling the fact that these issues are faced worldwide.

Selection Number 6: Jazz Mama

The 2010 film Jazz Mama focuses on the sexualised violence of Congolese women and also how they remain pillars of strength, as survivors, within their community after their experiences. This film has also become a movement inspired by the strength and resilience of these very women from the Congo. It was given the Zanzibar International Film Festival award in 2010.

Selection Number 7: Maria in Nobody’s Land

A film by Marcela Zamora Chamorro, Maria in Nobody’s Land takes an intimate look at the journey of three women from El Salvador as they travel to the US. The decision is not a light one, but they each decide to leave behind their abusive husbands and seek a better life outside of poverty. In doing so, they face prostitution, rape, kidnapping, and death, which is similar to many other immigrants’ stories. This 2010 film highlights the dangers many women endure.

Selection Number 8: Mrs. Goundo’s Daughter

Mrs. Goundo’s Daughter is a film featuring a woman originally from Mali now living in the United States. However, if deported back to Mali, her two-year-old daughter would be under the threat of female genital mutilation. The movie follows Mrs. Goundo as she seeks political asylum and works on convincing an immigration judge of the danger her daughter faces. This film demonstrates the struggles women often face when it comes to immigration laws and human rights.

Selection Number 9: No Burqas Behind Bars

The 2013 film No Burqas Behind Bars showcases the experiences and life of women in Afghanistan prisons. For example, in the Takhar Prison, 40 women and their 34 children were locked behind bars together within four cells. The film investigates how imprisonment is used to control women in Afghanistan, with some even facing longer punishments for fleeing their husbands than others who have commited murder.

 Selection Number 10: Private Violence

Premiering at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, Private Violence won the Candescent Award, which was created to support socially conscious documentary films. The feature-length documentary narrates the stories of domestic violence survivors while breaking down the knee-jerk reactions of asking why victims stay with their abusers. In doing so, the film works to change the conversation and build a different future for women.

Selection Number 11: Silent Voices

The film Silent Voices is a docudrama that discusses the issue of domestic violence in the United Kingdom. It was later released as a DVD in 2008 in order to raise funds for the charity National Centre for Domestic Violence. The film features fictitious characters ranging from the ages of 10 to 40 performing monologues based on real events and experiences.

Selection Number 12: Six Days: Three Activists, Three Wars, One Dream

By following three human rights defenders as they move through Iraq, Liberia, Georgia, and Abkhazia, Six Days offers insight into the everyday plight of women worldwide. Education, honour killings, and health issues are just a few examples explored in the 2013 documentary which enlightens audiences to the challenges women face but also the changes, the empowerment, and the differences they are making in order to create a better tomorrow.

Selection Number 13: Telling Amy’s Story

Telling Amy’s Story is a film that recalls the timeline of a domestic violence homicide that occurred in 2001 through interviews with the victims’ parents, co-workers, law enforcement, and others. The actress and activist Mariska Hargitay hosts while Detective Deirdri Fishel narrates. Through this film, further awareness is raised on the issue of abuse against women.

Selection Number 14: The Conspiracy of Silence

This PBS documentary focuses on the silence that follows domestic violence, as victims feel they cannot come forward about the abuse they have experienced whether by fear of their abusers or the stigma surrounding such abuse. Often the victims believe their silence will prevent further violence from occurring. The film goes beyond economic and racial lines in order to demonstrate that domestic violence does not discriminate and can happen to anyone.

 Selection Number 15: V-Day: Until the Violence Stops

Until the Violence Stops documents the way in which The Vagina Monologues developed into the international movement V-Day, geared toward ending violence against women and girls. The film features women from around the world who each share their stories and experiences of abuse and rape as well as circumcision. In doing so, both the film and the resulting movement have aided in raising awareness of the prominence of violence within global societies and breaking the silence surrounding abuse.

 Selection Number 16: War Zone

Though there are multiple forms of assault and abuse, one that often goes unnoticed since it is considered the norm is street harassment. The 1998 documentary War Zone engages men in order to seek answers as to why they catcall, whistle, or otherwise make comments at women. As director Maggie Hadleigh-West explores this issue within the United States, some men apologize or converse while others yell or even attempt to hit her. Through this film, the very real experience of women is put into the spotlight to be analyzed and discussed.

16 Ways of Preventing and Intervening in Child Marriages

M For MarriageThe practice of child marriage–matrimony before age 18–continues to disproportionately affect girls in certain cultures and communities with significant consequences to their education, health, and social life. Child brides have little say in when or whom they will marry, have little influence with their husbands and in-laws, have little opportunity to develop awareness of their rights, and are in no position to claim or demand them.

These large age gaps reinforce power differentials between girls and their husbands. Girls who marry before age 18 are more likely to experience violence within marriage than girls who marry later. Girls may lack the power to negotiate safer sex and have little access to information or services to prevent either pregnancy or infection. According to Girls Not Brides, girls under the age of 15 are 5 times more likely than women in their twenties to die during childbirth. Married girls are also more likely to have multiple children in shorter intervals and more likely to become disabled due to pregnancy or childbirth. Stillbirths and deaths during the first week of life are 50 percent higher among babies born to adolescent mothers than among babies born to mothers in their twenties. Children of adolescent mothers are also more likely to be premature and have low birth weight.

Governments are now recognising the importance of addressing child marriage and integrating societal changes to meet the UN Millennium Development goals. Supporting girls in avoiding child marriage, delaying having children, and finishing school brings opportunities for skills and income to eradicate poverty for future generations. Promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women ensures girls get choices as to when they marry and whom. Reducing child/forced marriage will reduce child mortality and disability related to child/teen pregnancy or childbirth. It will also improve maternal health which will reduce vulnerability to HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

Though the practice of child marriage is rooted in tradition and culture, neither culture nor tradition is immutable and there is hope for change. This list presents 16 ways you can join in the efforts to end the practice of child marriage and influence change to ensure a better future for young girls and boys around the world.

Written and compiled by Angelique Mulholland with additional content by Regina Yau; Introduction by Carol Olson 

Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #1: Educate Girls 

According to UNICEF, one in three girls in low- to middle-income countries will marry before the age of 18. Many studies have shown that it is more than likely that a girl who marries as a child will come from a community where education for girls is not valued. She will more than likely be illiterate and will have little to no understanding of her human rights. Girls having access to both primary and secondary education will improve their chances of access to employment and a means of supporting themselves and then in turn their families. It is important to reach out to communities and help challenge traditional and discriminatory views on access to education. INSPIRATIONAL EXAMPLE: Tostan, a women’s human rights charity based in Senegal, runs outreach programmes which educate community elders and decision makers about the importance of educating young women.


Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #2: Empower Girls

In many countries where child marriage is prevalent, girls are often seen as economic burdens. Girls in households where boys are favoured often have low self-esteem and little confidence. Dr Ashok Dyalchand, who works at the Institute of Health Management, Pachod (IHMP) in India, has conducted a research project on teenage girls living in rural areas of India. Using the Rosenberg scale, he measured the self-esteem of young girls and found that the lower the self-esteem, the higher the risk of child marriage. Dr. Dyalchan found that empowerment programmes for young girls are key to preventing child or early marriage by improving both their sense of self and self-efficacy through informing girls of their basic human rights, their legal right to refuse a marriage, and education programmes on health and sex education. Small scale studies have shown promising results from his programmes that make girl empowerment its central strategy –  the mean age of marriage of 14.5 years old has risen to 17 years old.

Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #3: Educate Parents 

Some parents from traditional communities believe that child marriage is a way of protecting their daughter: providing for her economically so she will be taken care of; safeguarding her from harassment and sexual violence before she reaches puberty, and preventing premarital sex which is still taboo in many countries across the world. Unfortunately, families often do not know the negative and harmful effects of early child marriage, including pregnancy at such a young age which can lead to many complications as a girl’s body will not be ready for childbirth. Such parents will benefit from being educated on the very serious harmful effects of forced early childhood marriage. INSPIRATIONAL EXAMPLE: In Zambia, Chief Nzamane of the Mfumbeni tribe works with THE parents of girls who are at risk of being sold for lucrative dowries. He understands the financial pressures on families and finds way to help them stay financially secure without needing to force their daughters, in his words, into “lifelong trauma.”

Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #4: Mobilise religious leaders and community elders

Religious elders and community leaders – nearly always men – are the decision makers in communities where early or child marriage is prevalent. Engaging and educating these powerful men is key to changing the attitude of a community on childhood marriage. INSPIRATIONAL EXAMPLE: Tostan’s Community Empowerment Programme focuses on engaging local elders and religious leaders and educating them on the harmful effects of traditions such as child marriage on communities as a whole. Once they are knowledgeable, Tostan will hold educational sessions with the whole village including the parents of high-risk girls and the girls themselves. As a result of these sessions, throughout Senegal villages have declared an end to some harmful practices including child marriage.

Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #5: Support Adolescent Girls Who Are Already Married

Although the focus is on communities preventing child marriage, young girls who have already married also need support. As well as being isolated and having less chance to complete or continue their education, child marriage can put young girls at a higher risk of violence in the home- sexually, physically and psychologically. INSPIRATIONAL EXAMPLE: CARE has run a successful project in Ethiopia which has focused on supporting child brides. The TESFA project (meaning “Hope” in Amharic) focuses on educating child brides of their rights and providing them education on their reproductive rights, contraception and healthcare. The holistic approach giving all members of the community a chance to discuss the benefits of supporting child brides and the best ways in which to do it, has resulted in some very encouraging results over a three-year period.

Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #6: Support Legislation Against Child Marriage


One of the most powerful tools that anti-child marriage organisations and women’s rights activists and advocates have been campaigning for is for governments in countries such as Yemen where child marriage is prevalent to make child marriage illegal by raising the legal age of marriage to the minimum age of 18. If you live in one of these countries or communities, start supporting efforts to get such legislation passed by supporting the efforts of these organisations and activists including participating in community campaigning activities organised by them such as petitions and demonstrations. Where there are such legislations and laws in force but have trouble gaining traction over entrenched traditions, help prevent child marriage by notifying the relevant authorities or agencies about any child marriage may be taking place in your neighbourhood or community. Ditto if you live in countries with large immigrant communities that practise child marriage.

Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #7: Advocate for Women as Community Leaders

In many communities that practise child marriage, women are often kept out of the decision-making processes and are not allowed a voice in local politics. It is vital that women are able to voice their concerns and advocate for women’s rights in all spheres as this is often what accelerates the elimination of harmful traditions such as child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM). INSPIRATIONAL EXAMPLE: Tostan trains women in leadership skills and advocacy. 80% of their Community Management Committees are coordinated by women and this gives them the vital skills and confidence needed to engage in local community meetings. As a result more and more women throughout Senegal and other areas where Tostan works are being seen, heard, and having a positive impact throughout local communities.

Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #8: Provide Relevant Economic Support 

Inter-generational poverty is often the most prevalent reason cited for forcing girls into early marriage. Families may know about the harmful effects of child marriage, but may be forced to marry off their daughters as the dowry payment from the marriage of an older sister might be essential in ensure the survival of younger children. Providing economic support to families may be a way of helping parents who do not want to their daughters to get married early. INSPIRATIONAL EXAMPLE: The Berwan Hewane project in Ethiopia found that providing a family with a goat or a sheep for refusing to marry off an underaged daughter helped parents stand firm on that decision. In certain cultures and communities, this provision of livestock can mean the difference in the survival and longevity of a family; providing this much-needed resource to a family trapped by poverty gives them more options, including refusing to marry off underaged daughters.

Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #9: Get Informed and Take Action

If this is the first time you have become aware about child marriage, one of the first steps you need take is to understand the issue do more research and learn about the human cost of this harmful practice as there are painful consequences of child marriage. Get informed and knowledgeable on the subject, then proceed with learning more about international, governmental, and grassroots efforts in your community and worldwide that are focused on the prevention and intervention in child marriage. Then, armed with that information and knowledge, decide how you can best support their efforts with your resources and skills, then reach out to the relevant activists and organisations and start taking action.

Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #10: Talk about it

As with the wider human rights issue of Violence Against Women, child marriage is still a taboo subject; talking about it will help to educate societies across the globe about the harmful effects of child marriage. Many people, particularly in Western countries, are hesitant to criticise cultural practices as they are worried they will be perceived as racist or xenophobic. Standing up for the human rights of children should never be perceived as a negative act. Talk about it with your family and friends, share information on your social media forums and be passionate about ending child marriage today.

Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #11: Men and Boys – Please Speak Out!

Like in every area of ending violence against women, men and boys are central to challenging gender norms and changing deeply entrenched traditional practices like child marriage. There would be no child marriage if men in affected communities did not choose to marry children. It is therefore vital that men are educated on the rights of girls and how early marriage can be harmful to her health and happiness and destructive to the family unit. We need men everywhere to speak out against discrimination and violence towards women and girls. INSPIRATIONAL EXAMPLE: In Morocco, a Maths teacher named Mohammed Baddi runs educational projects with Fondation YTTO, a Moroccan women’s rights organisation in the Amazir communities based in the Atlas mountains. He teaches young girls that; they can achieve more than the wife/mother status society affords them: “They are not machines, just meant to sew or to bear children.”

Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #12: Take A Pledge

On 22 July 2014 something extraordinary happened: In a school in South London, UK, David Cameron, Malala Yousafzai, and hundreds of development professionals and representatives around the world pledged to end Early, Child or Forced Marriage (ECFM) and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as part of The Girl Summit. 700 million other people did so too. The Girl Summit, co-hosted by UNICEF, is the first initiative of its kind that aims to accelerate and mobilise efforts to end FGM and ECFM within a generation. You can make your pledge here and add your voice to the chorus of millions by Facebook or Twitter. Do it today!

Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #13: Sponsor a Girl Child

Sponsoring a child in a developing country has been a longstanding way for donors around the world to support underprivileged and vulnerabble communities in order to break the cycle of  violence, poverty, and illiteracy. Donating a small amount of money each month to a child with charities like Plan International can help girls who are vulnerable to child marriage. Education is one of the greatest preventatives of child marriage and studies have proven that the longer a girl stays in school, the less likely she is to marry or become an underaged mother. In some developing countries education is not free and families cannot afford to send their child to school and if they do, male children are given priority. By sponsoring a girl child each month you can help pay for their school fees and help her get the education she needs to avoid child marriage and to map her own path in life.

Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #14: Support Anti-Child Marriage charities and organisations 

There are many amazing charities which are implementing some incredible campaigns to put an end to child marriage with encouraging results. Why not support them? Grassroots projects often desperately need support to keep going and your time or money can truly make a difference. To start you off, here are three major grassroots organisations working tirelessly every day to put an end to child marriage: Girls Not BridesSaarthi Trust and Tostan. If you would like to find out more about other charities working to end child marriage, our 2013 16 for 16 article that lists out 16 prominent anti-child marriage nonprofits and charities is a good starting point.

Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #15: Support Obstetric Fistula campaigns and organisations

Fistula is a common problem for adolescent girls giving birth for the first time. A fistula can occur during an obstructed labour, often when access to emergency care is unavailable or limited. Obstructed labour is an agonising process and girls/women often struggle in pain until the baby dies in the birthing canal. There is often a loss of circulation that causes tissue to die, leaving large gaps between the birth canal and bladder or rectum, causing incontinence. This is not only painful for new mothers, but it can also cause social isolation and acute psychological distress. According to Freedom from Fistula Foundation, an estimated 2 million women in Africa suffer silently with an obstetric fistula. Supporting this charity and others doing similar work in the field is a natural first step in helping many victims of child marriage from the maternal healthcare approach.

Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #16: Support Artists, Photographers, and Journalists who Raise Awareness About Child Marriage

Raising awareness about the issue is vital because child marriage has been hidden away for centuries and needs to be publicly addressed by the community in order to end the daily suffering of adolescent girls and the continual violation of their human rights. One way of doing so is to support and share the work of journalists, artists, photographers and activists to help raise the plight of child brides. INSPIRATIONAL EXAMPLE: Stephanie Sinclair is a photographer who started capturing images of child brides over 9 years ago. Stephanie sought to highlight the lives of girls forced into marriage in her photographs in a bid to raise awareness. Her work has now been internationally recognised and has been used as a conversation-starter about child brides.


Nujood Ali, former Yemeni child bride, after her divorce. Photo Credit: Stephanie Sinclair

Transforming Personal Pain Into Positive Action: The Pixel Project’s 16 Female Role Models 2014


Today is the first day of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence 2014 campaign and The Pixel Project is kicking things off with our 5th annual list of 16 female role models fighting to end violence against women in their communities. The intent of this list is simple: to highlight the good work of the heroines of the movement to end violence against women wherever they are in the world. The women and girls in this year’s list hail from 18 countries and 4 continents.

Many of these astounding women have shown that it is possible to transform personal pain that came out of facing gender-based violence into positive action to stop violence against women, to empower themselves and to show other survivors that it is possible to move forward with dignity and happiness. They have refused to let bitterness and pain get the better of them, opting to stand up for themselves and for other women instead. Indeed, we are very happy to note that the extraordinary girls’ education activist, Malala Yousafzai, who was one of our Female Role Models of 2012 has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this year. Well done, Malala!

Others on this list may not have experienced gender-based violence inflicted on themselves, but they have stepped up to do what is right: to speak up for women and girls who cannot do it for themselves, sometimes at great personal risk. All this requires immense courage, generosity of spirit and a strong enduring heart.

Without further ado, here, in alphabetical order by first name, is our 2014 list of 16 female role models. Sadly, two of the role models on this year’s list (Angelica Bello and Efuo Dorkenoo) have respectively died in 2013 and 2014. Few people outside the anti-Violence Against Women movement may have heard of them and we hope that the general public will learn something about their extraordinary life’s work via this list. We hope that they and the rest of the women here will be an inspiration to others to get involved with the cause. To that end, we hope you will generously share this list via Facebook and Twitter to give these extraordinary 16 women and their work a moment in the sun.

Note: Information for all role model profiles is sourced via online research and is based on one or more news sources, articles and/or The Pixel Project’s own interviews with them. The main articles/reports from which these profiles have been sourced can be directly accessed via the hyperlinked titles as well. Please do click through to learn more about these remarkable women.

– Regina Yau, Founder and President, The Pixel Project


Female Role Model 1: Angelica Bello – Colombia

Angelica Bello_CroppedAngelica Bello founded the National Foundation for the Defence of Women’s Human Rights (Fundación Nacional Defensora de los Derechos Humanos de la Mujer, FUNDHEFEM) to protect women survivors of sexual violence in Colombia’s long-running armed conflict. In 2013, she participated as a spokesperson of survivors of conflict-related sexual violence in a meeting with President Santos to push for women’s voices to be heard in the debate about the ‘Victims and Land Restitution Law,’ which is designed to ensure land misappropriated during the conflict is returned to its rightful owners and to provide reparation to victims. She asked the President to implement measures to provide psychosocial support to victims, including survivors of sexual violence. Bello died under suspicious circumstances in late 2013 after enduring years of violent retaliation for her work.

Female Role Model 2: Anita Sarkeesian – Canada and the United States of America

Anita Sarkeesian_croppedAnita Sarkeesian is the pop-culture media critic who made headlines when she launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to support her production of a video Web series called Tropes vs Women in Video Games, which explores female stereotypes in the gaming industry. Her feminist critique of the gaming industry has garnered an ongoing vitriolic online backlash, including threats of death, sexual assault and rape, most recently escalating to hounding her out of her home and forcing her to cancel an event at Utah State University due to the threat of a mass gun massacre. Undaunted, Sarkeesian says: “I feel like the work I’m doing is really important […] the actual change that I am starting to see, the really sweet messages that I get from people about how they were resistant to identify as feminist, but then they watched my videos […] the parents who use it as an educational tool for their kids…all of this is really inspiring to me.”

Female Role Model 3: Dianna Nammi – Iran  and United Kingdom

diana-nammi-tempDiana Nammi started the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) in her home in 2002 to provide advice and counselling for women from Middle Eastern, North African and Afghan communities in the UK. Since its founding in 1996, IKWRO has grown into a 16-staff organisation that takes thousands of phone calls and helped 780 women face-to-face in 2013. Nammi is a former Peshmerga fighter who has been fighting for women’s rights since she was a teenager growing up in Iran. Since moving to the UK in 1996, she has been instrumental in the campaign to bring honour killers to justice in British courts as well as striving to get forced marriages banned in the country.

Female Role Model 4: Efuo Dorkenoo – Ghana and the United Kingdom

Efua DorkenooEfua Dorkenoo, affectionately known as “Mama Efua”, is a Ghanaian campaigner who fought against the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) for decades. When she was a nurse and midwife-in-training in the 1960s in England, she encountered a woman in labour who had undergone FGM. The woman was so badly scarred that she was unable to deliver her baby through natural childbirth. Due to that encounter, Ms. Dorkenoo became a public health specialist and dedicated the rest of her life to educating the public about the effects of FGM and to ending its practice. Dorkenoo died from cancer in October 2014, leaving a lasting legacy of anti-FGM work.

Female Role Model 5: Emma Sulkowicz – United States of America

Emma Sulkowicz_CroppedEmma Sulkowicz is the Columbia University senior and visual arts major who has committed herself to toting around a mattress until the school expels the fellow student who raped her or he leaves on his own. Sulkowicz started doing this in August 2014 to make a statement about campus sexual assault when Columbia University allowed her rapist to stay on campus. Sulkowicz has made her unusual campaign the basis of her senior thesis – “Carry That Weight” is part protest, part performance art, and has helped rejuvenate the nationwide conversation about campus sexual assault. On 29 October 2014, the first #CarryYourWeight Day was launched in the U.S. and college students and anti-Violence Against Women activists carried mattresses and pillows everywhere to signify their solidarity with victims of rape and sexual assault.

Female Role Model 6: Ikram Ben Said – Tunisia

Tunis, Tunisia.2014 August 18th Ikram Ben Said, 33 year old activist, portrait in her home nest to a poster of Martin Luther King. Francesco Zizola ?NOOR for TIMEWhen Ikram Ben Said took part in the Arab Spring’s first uprising in 2011, she knew that it was the beginning of the struggle for women’s rights in Tunisia. So she created Aswat Nissa (Voices of Women) –  the first women’s rights organisation in Tunisia to involve Tunisian women politicians regardless of where they fall of the political spectrum. “Laws can change the mentality,” says Ben Said. “So we have to work with politicians.”  Through Aswat Nissa’s campaigns and activities, Ben Said has worked to encourage more women to vote, train women politicians about governance, push back against laws that discriminate against women, and to educate communities that “you can be Muslim and advocate for women’s equality. It’s not against Islam.”

Female Role Model 7: Khadijah Gbla – Sierra Leone and Australia

Khadijah Gbla_croppedAnti-Violence Against Women activist Khadijah Gbla is a survivor: she endured female genital mutilation (FGM) at age 10, survived civil war in Sierra Leone, witnessed the murder of her father at 13, spent three years with her mother and younger sister in a Gambian refugee camp, and endured domestic violence from a man just 3 years her senior. Since migrating to Australia, she has channelled what she learned from her horrific experiences into positive education and support for other women. She has campaigned against FGM, started Khadija Gbla Consulting: a motivational speaking, cross-cultural training and consulting firm and also launched Chocolate Sisters – a series of workshops for young which will address issues such as body image, domestic violence and FGM.

Female Role Model 8: Laxmi – India

Laxmi - Stop Acid Attacks Website_croppedWhen Laxmi was 16, an angry suitor threw acid on her face while she waited at a bus stop in New Delhi’s busy Khan Market, disfiguring her permanently. Her attacker deliberately used the acid to destroy Laxmi’s face after she refused to respond to his advances. Instead of hiding herself in shame, Laxmi became the standard-bearer in India for the movement to end acid attacks. She campaigned on national television, and gathered 27,000 signatures for a petition to curb acid sales. Her petition led the Supreme Court to order the Indian central and state governments to immediately regulate the sale of acid, and the Parliament to make prosecutions of acid attacks easier to pursue.

Female Role Model 9: Dr. Maha Al-Muneef – Saudi Arabia

Dr Maha Al-Muneef_croppedDr. Maha Al-Muneef is a dedicated public advocate for survivors of domestic and sexual violence in Saudi Arabia. She founded the National Family Safety Programme in 2005 to combat domestic violence in Saudi Arabia, where activists have been campaigning for an end to the “absolute authority” of male guardians. She is an advisor to the Shura Council in Saudi Arabia. As a physician, she has worked with hospitals to change protocols for victims of rape and abuse, helped to create new police procedures for handling cases and develop special training programmes for medical personnel and law enforcement.

Female Role Model 10: Malalai Joya – Afghanistan

Malalai JoyaMalalai Joya earned her reputation as the “bravest woman in Afghanistan” when she, as an elected delegate to the Loya Jirga (an assembly to debate the proposed Afghan constitution), stood up and publicly criticised the room full of male politicians for allowing fundamentalist warlords too much power. Later, a mob gathered where she was staying, threatening to rape and murder her. She won a landslide victory when she ran for parliament in 2005, the youngest person to be elected, only to be kicked out after she compared the house to a “stable or zoo” in a TV interview. She says: “The situation for women is as catastrophic today as it was before. In most provinces, women’s lives are hell. Forced marriages, child brides and domestic violence are very common. Self-immolations are at a peak.”

Female Role Model 11: Manisha Mohan – India

Manisha Mohan_CroppedThe horrific gang-rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey in New Delhi in 2012 was a tipping point for 22-year-old engineering student Manisha Mohan, who decided to put her engineering studies to practical use by inventing an unusual new anti-rape defense system for women in India – an electric bra called Society Harnessing Equipment (SHE). The bra contains a pressure sensor connected to an electric circuit that can generate a 3,800 kilo-volt shock, which is severe enough to burn a potential rapist. The moment its pressure sensors get activated, a built-in GPS also alerts the police. The pressure sensor has been calibrated for squeeze, pinch and grab; the force applied in a simple hug does not activate the device. There is also a switch so the woman can activate the system herself when in a dangerous location.

Female Role Model 12: Marie Claire Faray – Democratic Republic of Congo

Marie Claire Faray_croppedMarie Claire Faray is an activist from the Democratic Republic of Congo who campaigns to end violence against women, especially in her home country. As a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, she continues to work and advocate to get women from all backgrounds to hold their government to account for women’s rights and to have their ideas and opinions heard and accounted for. She said: “[U]ltimately, in 2020, we want to look back and say “we have at least achieved this in this country” — for example “in the Democratic Republic of Congo, we have achieved more women in parliament, the end of violence against women, the end of sexual violence.”

Female Role Model 13: Mussurut Zia – United Kingdom

Mussurut ZiaMussurut Zia started getting involved in anti-violence against women work when she developed a project for disadvantaged women and children. She said: “These people were suffering sexual and domestic abuse. So I started to look at empowerment. It needed more than empowering people to leave their circumstances. They had to be able to survive on their own and believe that they didn’t have to sit there and take it. No matter what culture you come from abuse is wrong.” In 2007, she set up a community organisation, Practical Solutions, which raises awareness of forced marriage, honour-based violence and much more. As a director of the Muslim Women’s Network UK, Mussurut was recently asked to provide insight into the subject of Jihadi brides. Her next project is to go into schools to talk to children about the laws related to marriage and where to go if they find themselves in a forced situation.

Female Role Model 14: Pragna Patel – United Kingdom

Pragna Patel_CroppedPragna Patel is the Director and founding member of Southall Black Sisters (SBS), a landmark organisation in the history of black and Asian feminism in the UK. For over thirty years, SBS has been at the forefront of violence against women of colour in Southall and nationwide. They provide general and specialist advice to black and minority women on gender-related issues such as domestic violence, sexual violence, forced marriage, honour killings and their intersection with the criminal justice, immigration and asylum systems, health, welfare rights, homelessness and poverty.

Female Role Model 15: Rosi Oroczo – Mexico

Rosi Oroczo_CroppedAnti-slavery activist Rosi Oroczo, president of the nongovernmental Commission United Against Human Trafficking and a member of the 61st legislature, is the driving force in overcoming strong resistance and winning passage in 2012 of a tough new law to combat human trafficking throughout Mexico. Passed on June 14, 2012, it brings all Mexican states under the same extensive measures for prevention and punishment of trafficking. It grants increased powers for police and judges, granting anonymity and protection for victims, while providing new funding for rehabilitation projects involving them. Orozco believes the answer to end human trafficking  “begins with individuals caring about other people, noticing what’s going on in their neighborhoods and being willing to face up to traffickers and drive them out. We all have to refuse to tolerate this crime against humanity any longer.”

Female Role Model 16: Safia Abdi Haase – Somalia and Norway

Safia Abdi Haase_CroppedSomali-born Safia Abdi Haase is the first immigrant woman to receive Norway’s prestigious order of St. Olav for her work with women and children. She said her campaigning was based on her experiences of domestic abuse, female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriage, domestic violence and sex trafficking. “I had to use my own body so that I could come out of Africa to come to Europe to give my three daughters life without violence,” she said. Ms. Haase had no formal education when she arrived in Norway. She put herself through primary and secondary schools, eventually obtaining a university degree in nursing. She has helped formulate the Norwegian government’s action plan against FGM and is regarded as an ambassador in the drive to combat violence against women.