16 Ways Healthcare Professionals Can Help Prevent Violence against Women

This year, The Pixel Project is pleased to welcome a guest “16 For 16” article from RANZCOG – the leading standards body responsible for the training and education of doctors in obstetrics and gynaecology in Australia and New Zealand. RANZCOG provides consultative leadership and advocacy in #WomensHealth to ensure excellence in #obstetrics and #gynaecology training.

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In Australia and around the world, violence against women is widespread, but it is also preventable. Intimate partner violence contributes to more death, disability and illness in women aged 15 to 44 than any other preventable risk factor.

As trusted leaders in the community who are on the frontlines of patient care, healthcare professionals are in a unique position to both respond to, and help prevent violence before it occurs.

Knowing where to start or what to do can be overwhelming. However, there are many opportunities to initiate change at any stage of your career, regardless of whether you are in training or are currently practicing.

Through awareness raising and education, by addressing attitudes that enable violence, and by working with support organisations, health professionals can make a major difference to the lives of women and girls experiencing violence.

Here are our 16 ways that health professionals can help prevent violence against women.

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Idea for Healthcare Professionals #1: Integrate Awareness-Raising Through Learning

One of the best ways learning institutions can equip health professionals with the knowledge they need to help prevent violence against women, is to ensure that they are aware of the issues and drivers that enable violence. Raising awareness through the inclusion of modules or exam questions in the curriculum not only develops competency, but highlights violence against women as a very real problem.

Idea for Healthcare Professionals #2: Provide Opportunities to Level Up Skills

Ensuring that health professionals have access to skill building opportunities and resources is crucial to promoting best practices. Beyond knowing how to identify, respond and refer patients appropriately, it is also equally important that health professionals are skilled in handling these interactions sensitively and respectfully.

Idea for Healthcare Professionals #3: Support Research

By supporting, providing expertise to, and investing in research initiatives, health professionals across disciplines can contribute to understanding why these issues persist, and contribute to finding ways to prevent violence before it happens. For example, Melbourne University has some great partnerships and resources as part of the Melbourne Research Alliance to End Violence against women and their children. Click here for more information.

Idea for Healthcare Professionals #4: Acknowledge That Stereotyping of Violence Exists

A common trap that we fall into is the idea that violence is only perpetrated by, and to, a certain kind of person. While statistics tell us that there is a gendered nature to violence, it is important for health professionals to remember that violence occurs across all cultures, communities and religions regardless of wealth and education. There is no stereotypical victim of violence, but acknowledging that these attitudes exist is important.

Idea for Healthcare Professionals #5: Be A Leader, Speak Up

Recent research by the Medical Board of Australia found that doctors are among the most trusted professions. As leaders in the communities, health professionals are well placed to promote respect as part of a holistic approach to good health and well-being. By calling out behaviours that contribute to negative attitudes towards women, health professionals are able to set standards in their clinical practice, and amongst their colleagues, that violence is not acceptable.

Idea for Healthcare Professionals #6: Call Out Sexism

There is an opportunity for health professionals to prevent violence against women at an individual level by understanding the attitudes that drive violence. Sexist language, comments and behaviours are enablers that allow negative attitudes towards women to persist. By calling out these actions and making it very clear that this is not tolerated or accepted in the workplace, clinic or medical institution, it’s a step that all health professionals can make to help address damaging attitudes.

Idea for Healthcare Professionals #7: Set the Example

Behave in a way that signals to everyone that you take these issues very seriously. Everyone enjoys and is productive in a fun work environment, but sexist jokes, comments, and conversations set a poor example. Calling out sexist comments, allowing women to speak without interruption, and being respectful of physical boundaries are simple ways that you can show those around you how it’s possible to be a person people enjoy being around without demonstrating or encouraging poor behaviour.

Idea for Healthcare Professionals #8: Make Resources and Messaging Visible To Patients

Placing support resources around the workplace may seem like an insignificant measure, but it capitalises on an opportunity to reinforce a safe space without any formal exchange of words. Regardless of how friendly a workplace may be, there are many women who do not report violence for a number of reasons. Where possible, having these resources in both highly visible, and more discreet areas of the office, may allow a woman the opportunity she needs to access this information.

Idea for Healthcare Professionals #9: Create a ‘Cone of Trust’

Often times it is in a clinical or medical setting where evidence of violence is either identified and/or disclosed. For such reasons, the relationship between a health professional and patient is of significant importance. Ensuring patients feel safe, heard, and have confidence in the practitioner’s ability to provide the right support, enables a culture of trust where help can be sought.

Idea for Healthcare Professionals #10: Ask the Right Questions

Utilising a domestic violence screening tool can assist health professionals in identifying and responding to patients who are at risk of, or experiencing violence. Checking in with patients by asking general questions about their well-being is a good way to keep the communication pathways open. When violence is suspected, remaining sensitive to the reasons why a woman may have chosen not to disclose this information, and by asking the right questions can prompt opportunities for discussion.

Idea for Healthcare Professionals #11: Be Mindful Of Creating Unintentionally Unsafe Spaces

In circumstances where a woman has separated herself from a violent situation, it is useful for health professionals to be mindful that creating an unintended unsafe space is a possibility. Personal documentation and health records pertaining to a child or dependent from a previous violent relationship may allow a perpetrator unknown to health professionals, access to personal information, potentially compromising the safety of the woman. Ensuring that all staff that care for the patient are aware of such circumstances will ensure that confidentiality is upheld.

Idea for Healthcare Professionals #12: Know How, And Where, To Refer

Building relationships with legal centres, domestic violence crisis centres and community organisations that support women experiencing violence will ensure that the referral process is smooth and efficient. Maintaining these connections not only supports a collaborative approach, it also ensures the patient receives the right mental, social and medical supports necessary.

Idea for Healthcare Professionals #13: Understand Legal and Administrative Pathways

Having some basic knowledge of legal rights is extremely useful. Where it is not possible for a staff member on-site to have this knowledge, at the very least having access to legal support services or legal professionals will assist health professionals in providing an appropriate response. There are some great resources and initiatives out there, In Australia, 1800RESPECT has resources for support workers and professionals responding to women experiencing violence. Health Justice Partnerships in Victoria are also implementing a new legal welfare model into hospitals to make legal advice more accessible to women.

Idea for Healthcare Professionals #14: Take Good Notes

In the instance where a disclosure has been made, and a woman chooses to take legal action, patient notes can sometimes be called on as evidence to support her case. Doctors can assist in these circumstances by keeping detailed patient notes.

Idea for Healthcare Professionals #15: Recognise Your Unique Position

Healthcare professionals who care for women during pregnancy occupy a unique position in society. Demonstrate that you understand this by being a champion for women of all ages. Establish an environment of respect, challenge behaviours that cultivate negative attitudes towards women and don’t hesitate to let people know that violence or disrespect is not tolerated.

Idea for Healthcare Professionals #16: Use Your Influence

Never miss an opportunity to advocate for women’s safety. Your role in women’s health sets you apart and delivers unique opportunities for you to influence policy. Look for opportunities to have these discussions with your colleagues and professional networks. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions as to how your workplace could be more equitable. Get involved in initiatives that support prevention initiatives and tell your friends about it. Make the point. Deliver the message. Argue for change.

16 Things You Can Donate to Women’s Shelters to Help Change Lives

Women’s shelters are often the first-stop safe location for women who are seeking refuge from abusive relationships. Shelters are halfway houses where many women and children get their first reprieve from a life filled with fear and pain; where they get their uninterrupted night’s sleep in days, months, or even years; and where they can take their first steps in their journey towards healing from their trauma and rebuilding their lives.

While shelters do provide a roof over the women and children’s heads, they are also chronically underfunded and always overstretched, relying on the surrounding communities and generous donors to provide some of the basic necessities needed to help get survivors back on their feet again. Whether it’s providing items to meet a baby’s needs, or sponsoring gas or a public transport pass to get a survivor to a job interview on time, we can all give a little something to support the efforts of shelters to help victims survive and thrive.

Here are 16 items that you can donate to help women in women’s shelters, for when they first arrive and when they are starting to rebuild their lives.

This is by no means a comprehensive list but it’s a start. When in doubt as to what necessities your nearest women’s shelter would welcome, always call to ask. And finally, if you can’t decide what to give, consider giving a cash donation instead so the shelter can buy what they need.

Introduction by Regina Yau and Samantha Joseph; List compiled by Samantha Joseph; Additional content by Regina Yau.

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When they first arrive at the shelter

Recommendation for Donation 1: Bras and Underwear

We may take the basics for granted, but because of the circumstances of most women when they leave an abusive home – no time to pack, plan or prepare – even necessities have to be left behind. Bras and underwear will always be appreciated by women in shelters who may have left their abusive home with just the clothes on their backs.

Note: For hygiene reasons, please always donate new bras and underwear, not second-hand ones.

Recommendation for Donation 2: Gift Cards for Clothes

While donated clothes are always welcome, not everyone at the women’s shelter will be able to find clothes that fit right. It may seem small – after all, some might say, at least they have clothes – but when you have little to nothing of your own and you’re trying to start over, clothes that fit and fit the occasion can make a huge difference. It will enable them to buy something simple like pyjamas which play a practical role in providing comfort and giving them back some dignity by giving them something to sleep in aside from their day clothes.

Recommendation for Donation 3: Bed Linens and Blankets

A good night’s sleep is a rare commodity for many victims and survivors. Survivors newly arrived at shelters are often exhausted and sleep deprived. You can help shelters provide a comfortable, clean sleeping environment for survivors by donating clean bedsheets, linens, pillows, pillowcases, blankets, and even mattresses.

Recommendation for Donation 4: Laundry Detergent

Keeping clothes clean and fresh gives a boost of confidence and self-respect to women at the shelter and doing laundry (a very run-of-the-mill task) may help some survivors feel more normal again. So when you’re packing clothes, bed linens and other washable items to take to the shelter, don’t forget to include a few jumbo bottles of laundry detergents (including at least one type for sensitive or allergy-prone skin) with them.

Recommendation for Donation 5: Toiletries

There’s nothing like the feeling of cleanliness that comes with a good shower. Every shelter houses women with different hair types, skin types and hygiene requirements. So make a small but thoughtful donation by providing them with choices of hair care products, dental hygiene products, deodorant, body wash, and soap for something as basic as bath time.

Recommendation for Donation 6: Pads and Tampons

Even among women, we rarely talk about the need for sanitary products at shelters, but they are very necessary and often in short supply. Imagine not being able to access these things when you need them. It’s an easy and affordable thing to do to pick up a few boxes for donation the next time you’re at a pharmacy or supermarket.

Recommendation for Donation 7: Baby Supplies

Infants and toddlers who come in to shelters with their mothers are at a vulnerable age and need certain things – baby formula, baby blankets, age-appropriate toys like small stuffies, clothes for little ones that fast outgrow what they have would make a big difference in providing a little hope and easing a mother’s concern. So why not put together a nice box of all these necessities to donate to your nearest women’s shelter? At the very least, consider adding a few new packs of diapers and baby wipes to the list of items you plan on donating.

Recommendation for Donation 8: Kids’ Games, Crafts And Books

Children at women’s shelters are going through a confusing and often traumatic time in their lives but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be given the opportunity to still be children. Games, crafts, and books will help both children and mothers find moments of peace and creativity. So if you have board games and video games that your children have outgrown, add them to the stash of things you plan to donate to the shelter. Pick up some extra sets of craft supplies the next time you’re shopping for your craft hobby or your kids. Get children’s books that your children have outgrown. Then box them all up and take them to the nearest women’s shelter.

Recommendation for Donation 9: School Supplies

Older children and teenagers at the women’s shelter should not have their schooling disrupted. Whether they will resume going to school or will be home-schooled for their safety, they will need school supplies. Ease the worries of both mother and child by donating stationery, text books, learning aids, used tablets and laptops, and even bus passes to help the kids get to school.

Recommendation for Donation 10: Pet Supplies

In homes riddled by domestic abuse, pets are often held hostage or tortured as part of the abuser’s modus operandi for controlling his partner and children. In many cases, women and children are reluctant to leave their home because they are unable to bring their beloved pet with them. Some women’s shelters are now recognising the need to house pets as part of helping survivors escape. If your nearest women’s shelter does so, consider donating jumbo packs of dog and cat food, pet shampoo, pet toys, cat litter, and other pet basics to help keep the shelter’s kennel residents clean, fed, and comfortable while they provide comfort to their human family.

When they are rebuilding their lives

Recommendation for Donation 11: Second-hand Work Clothes and Shoes

Do you have work attire like suits, formal button-down shirts, tailored skirts, and pairs of nearly-new work heels that no longer fit you or which you just haven’t worn in months? Donate your gently-used work clothes and shoes to your nearest women’s shelter – this will give the women something suitable to wear when they go for interviews to start rebuilding their life, where potential employees are often judged first based on how they look. Remember to send them to the dry cleaners or launder them before donating them to the shelter so they are all fresh and ready to wear.

Recommendation for Donation 12: Personal Grooming Supplies

Seemingly inconsequential but incredibly impactful, nail polish and makeup provide an extra boost of confidence for survivors who are taking their first steps towards find work. Being well-groomed alongside being well-dressed will help them make a positive impression on potential employers.

Recommendation for Donation 13: Public Transport Passes and Gas Cards

Getting from one place to another in time for a job interview, meeting or just to get to work while staying at a shelter can be difficult, especially with the cost of transportation and gas going up year on year. Access to public transport for survivors at city-based shelters and helping survivors with cars to fill a tank with petrol will significantly ease this struggle. Depending on the location of the shelter, you could donate annual or monthly public transport passes to women at shelters in cities. For survivors with cars or doing car pools in suburban or rural areas, gas cards loaded with enough credit for several tanks of gas will help with up to a month of getting to work and back.

Recommendation for Donation 14: Cell Phones

When applying for jobs, cell phones are a crucial instrument of communication because it allows survivors to make follow-up calls and inquiries as well as provide potential employers with a way of reaching the survivor. If you have a few older models lying around at home, why not pass them to your nearby women’s shelter to be recycled and reused? Better yet, organise a cell phone drive to collect used – but still functioning – cell phones from your friends, family, and co-workers and deliver a box full of them (together with the right cell phone chargers) to your local women’s shelter.

Recommendation for Donation 15: New SIMs and Call/Data Plans

Some survivors do bring their cell phones with them when they escape. However, their source of income or access to their bank account may be cut off by their abusive partner or spouse who control the family finances. So donate a few prepaid SIMs for them to simultaneously obtain a new phone number that their abuser cannot reach them at while giving them a means to make calls to potential employers and landlords as they get ready to rebuild their lives. For those with smartphones, get them pre-paid data plans or make arrangements to pay for 1 – 3 months of a basic data package for them.

Recommendation for Donation 16: Laptops, Desktops, and Tablets

As part of applying for jobs, survivors will need access to computers to fill out online forms, write resumes, and email application letters. So if you have still-functional desktop computers, laptops, and tablets that you are no longer using or are thinking of replacing with a newer model, consider donating them to your nearest women’s shelter. Make sure to delete all your personal files but keep a word processing programme like Microsoft Word and a browser like Firefox or Google Chrome in the computer, laptop, or desktop you’re donating so that survivors have instant access to these basic tools.

16 Ideas for Using Technology to Prevent and Stop Violence against Women

More than any other time in human history, the 21st century has seen a breakneck pace in the development of new technologies and the constant improvement and refinement of existing technologies. Almost half the world has internet access now with the rest catching, up as smartphones become increasingly cheap and ubiquitous in even the most remote areas of the world.

Technology cannot end violence against women (VAW) – only people can do that within their families, communities, and cultures. However, technology can be invaluable tools in the fight to end VAW in various ways:

  • It is a staple part of the anti-VAW activist’s toolkit to help stop VAW from happening, bring awareness to the issues surrounding VAW, and move society closer to ending it.
  • In today’s uber-connected world, technology functions as a magnifying glass for gender inequality and gender-based violence – the Internet, social media and mobile phones put a spotlight on stereotypes, misogyny and harassment.
  • Technology can also be a tool of empowerment for women, bringing them education and avenues through which they can tell their own stories. In this way, it can be life changing.

In this 16 for 16 article, we present 16 actionable ideas as a starting point to inspire you to use the technologies available to you to help stop VAW in your family, community, and culture. It is by no means a complete list but it’s a good place to begin.

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

Introduction by Anushia Kandasivam and Regina Yau; List curated, compiled, and written by Anushia Kandasivam; Additional content by Regina Yau.

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Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 1: Crowdsourcing Data

One of the most important tools in the fight to end VAW is accurate and comprehensive data about VAW. Data is essential to understand VAW and for education and policy making. There are initiatives and programmes around the world that enable women (and men) to contribute data in the form of testimonials on VAW. This data can be used to shape policy and efficient implementation and develop innovative strategies to build safe and inclusive public spaces. For example, HarrassMap in Egypt collects stories on street harassment, gang abuse, women being assaulted during the Arab Spring demonstrations and more, and also maps where these incidences occur. Global initiative Hollaback also gathers testimonials and maps where they occur.

Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 2: Education and Training via Digital Libraries

According to the United Nations, 31 million girls of primary school age are not in school and of these 17 million are expected never to enter school. There are 34 million female adolescents out of school. Lack of education keeps women in poverty and makes them even more vulnerable to gender-based violence including domestic violence, child marriage, and forced marriage. Lobbying your local government to provide community centres equipped with digital resources for self-learning and where locals can work together through peer-learning can be a first step to breaking down some socio-economic and gender barriers that challenge women.

Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 3: Educating Through Gaming

Though video games have a dark history of promoting misogyny and violence, there are a growing number of Facebook, computer and mobile games that were created to educate players about VAW, stimulate the experience of VAW, or just start the conversation about VAW. Some games to check out are the interactive Angry Brides, created by matrimonial website Shaadi.com that raises awareness about the tradition of dowry and the impact it has on women in India, and Hannah, where the gamer uses tools to assist Hannah, a victim of domestic violence.

Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 4: Wearable Tech

Wearable technology is becoming more mainstream now, but most people know it only for its ability to monitor health and fitness, and link you to your smartphone. There are, however wearable technologies that double up as tools to help women stay safe. For example: ROAR For Good’s wearable fashion accessory Athena is also a high-tech rape whistle linked to a mobile app that activates when a button is pressed for three seconds. The user can activate a loud alarm and flashing lights, and trigger Athena to alert local authorities and chosen contacts. The Safelet, which looks like a bracelet, has two buttons that when pressed sends a message to a contact, along with an alert that allows the contact to automatically call an emergency number.

Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 5: Empowering SMS Services

Not everyone in the world who has access to a mobile phone has a smartphone or access to the Internet, which is why having SMS services that help women stay safe is important. According to the World Bank, if a mobile phone exists in a household, then all members could theoretically use it. This extended access means better dissemination of information. Technologies that connect apps to SMS exist for those who do not always have access to the Internet. For example, you can ask Kitestring via SMS to check up on you in a set time after which Kitesting sends you a text. If you do not reply, it will send a message you created to your emergency contact.

Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 6: Social Media Awareness

Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have been used for years to spread awareness, tell women’s stories and engage the public. On-going campaigns such as #RedMyLips, #YesAllWomen and #EverydaySexism reach millions of people, attract the attention of mainstream media and get people talking. You can share your stories, experiences and thoughts on VAW and feminism via these and various other campaigns on social media, including #WhyIStayed, #MasculinitySoFragile, #NotBuyingIt and #RapeCultureIsWhen.

 

Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 7: Staying Safe with Apps

There are apps for everything nowadays, so it is not surprising that there are numerous safety apps for women as well as apps that educate users about VAW and what they can do to prevent it. For example, Watch Over Me, Circle of 6 and Safetipin are good safety apps that allow users to quickly contact trusted friends or emergency numbers, or instruct the app to contact them in certain situations. The Love is Not Abuse app is aimed at educating teenagers about dating violence.

Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 8: Helplines and Hotlines

Technology does not always have to be the latest to be effective. In rural areas around the world, phone technology is being used to provide national hotlines to provide counselling, support and advice to women and girls facing violence. In recent years, sophisticated computer systems linking phone networks has meant more efficient operations and more people assisted. In Palestine, the Women’s Protection Helpline and Child Protection Helpline also gather data on demographics of violence in the country. In Afghanistan, some cases handled by the first toll-free family support hotline, locally known as 6464, have seen legal action. You can help your local helpline by donating or volunteering your services.

Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 9: Connecting Rural Women

Traditional systems of communication and information dissemination, such as radio broadcasts, are still widely used around the world. However, women in rural areas are less likely to have time and space to sit and listen to the radio because of their domestic workload. Innovative digital communication networks can help bring awareness and education to women and girls very rural areas where the majority of them are illiterate and may live without consistent access to electricity, which limits their connectivity to information technology. For example, US-based non-profit Media Matters for Women has initiated a project in rural Sierra Leone that links special radio broadcasting programmes with mobile phones to distribute critical news and information to women and girls about their rights and available support services

Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 10: Holding Governments Accountable

A lot of the time, evidence of VAW is difficult to impossible to produce, meaning that women and girls are unable to lodge proper reports, bring perpetrators to justice or even escape from violence. Information communications technology can help bridge this gap by enabling organisations to strengthen documentation, reporting and monitoring processes of gender-based violence and use the evidence to put pressure on governments to deliver on commitments to combat and eliminate VAW. The Women’s Rights Programme of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) partnered with local organisations in Cambodia and the Democratic Republic of Congo to do just this, using free and open source software to post information on an online interactive map.

Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 11: Stripping the Social Acceptability of VAW

In most places in the world, VAW is not seen as a big problem for various reasons. Street harassment for example, is not seen as a problem and instead seen as ‘harmless teasing’ or ‘something that always happens’. Women do not come forward to authorities because of fear and a lack of proper reporting avenues, making VAW an invisible problem. Technology can go a long way to help bring VAW into the spotlight, from social media campaigns to apps and other software that allows reporting and data collection. HarassMap is one such tech – once a month, trained volunteers forming Community Action Teams go to local communities to talk to leaders about what they can do to stop street harassment, using data collected from HarassMap to inform and assist planning.

Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 12: Hackathons Against VAW

The tech community plays an important role in developing tech tools to prevent and eventually end VAW. Hackathons, where the community gets together to raise awareness and develop new technology, are great ways to do this. In the past, hackathons have resulted in some innovative tech that have helped fight VAW. For example, in the World Health Organization’s Hackathon Against Domestic Violence, the winning team built an anonymous cyberspace forum for victims to learn from and share their experiences without having to give up their privacy. Other prototypes included a web and SMS-based app to alert trusted friends and family in the case of teenage girls being taken abroad and an SMS- and web-integrated hotline that provides information on gender-related violence and how to report an incident

Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 13: Responsible Design

There are several ways responsible design can help in the fight against VAW: in the creative design of advertisement – educating the public about VAW or ensuring ads, packaging and other commercial items do not contain sexist or misogynistic messages – and in the design of apps and other tools women use to help them fight violence. One example of the former is the UN Women advertisement campaign that used real Google searches to show how widespread sexism and VAW is. As for the latter, responsible design is important to ensure vulnerable groups are not at risk from using apps and other tools. For instance, safety app Circle of 6 is designed to look like a social app so that you can use it in front of someone who is making you uncomfortable without them knowing what you are doing.

Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 14: Challenging Stereotypes, 21st Century Style

Software development and programming are among the biggest industries today, so it is no wonder that education in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) are increasingly popular. These are traditionally seen as ‘masculine’ subjects and dominated by males in the workforce but more and more girls and women are challenging these stereotypes and breaking barriers. Organisations such as Girls Who Code bring education and awareness to the public about why it is important to provide equal opportunities in these areas for girls and provide avenues for that education. Global non-profit Girls In Tech focuses on girls and women who are passionate about technology and provides support and training for female entrepreneurs in the technology startup space.

Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 15: Easing Access to Healthcare

VAW is a burden on healthcare worldwide but at the same time women who suffer from violence generally have little access to healthcare either because they live in remote or rural areas, or they are prevented from seeking healthcare. Mobile healthcare technology has made healthcare access easier for some of these women, and governments are now starting to train healthcare professionals to use mobile health tech to detect domestic abuse. For example, India’s Mobilise! programme trains nurses to identify women at risk of violence and encourage them to disclose their experiences. And in Indonesia, the government mobilised 100,000 midwives by providing them with up-to-date healthcare practices through an SMS programme called Bidan.

Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 16: A Mobile Education

The mobile phone can be used as a standalone technology to enable girls in schools to improve their education and learning. According to UNESCO, which held its Mobile Learning Week in March, mobile learning can promote inclusion in education. Girls in some countries are unable to go to Internet cafes to access resources for school work, so a mobile phone becomes an essential tool for their education. Mobile learning is still a new concept, so it will take more research and definitely some government policy to develop local content and provide access to enable it to work where it is needed.

The Pixel Project Selection 2017: 16 Notable Facebook Pages by Anti-Violence against Women Organisations

Since it was founded in 2004, Facebook has become a social media powerhouse with over 1.94 billion monthly active users as of June 2017. Facebook has grown from a basic social connection website to a life platform. It is used to find, connect and catch up with friends, to read the news, to conduct business, to shop, and to learn.

Facebook is also used to find causes, organisations, and events that are important to us and to advocate for various issues. Now Facebook users can learn about and support global issues from their own homes. Violence against women (VAW) is one of the global human rights issues finding supporters on Facebook. Now, a story about VAW can be read, watched, or heard via Facebook by millions of people around the globe. They can follow organisational news, participate in grassroots campaigns, and donate right from their mobile phone or computer.

More importantly, more than a billion Facebook members worldwide can now locate anti-VAW organisations’ Facebook pages to learn about VAW or quietly get VAW victims and survivors the help they need should they be unable to speak on the phone or otherwise physically get help. Every little bit helps!

This is our sixth annual list of 16 recommended Facebook pages which we have selected because of their unique approach to fighting all kinds of VAW. To make it as representative as possible the selection covers a wide range of countries across different continents. So choose a couple to ‘like’, or better yet ‘like’ them all, get informed, and take action.

Introduction by Rebecca DeLuca and Maria del Rio; Written and compiled by Maria del Rio with additional content by Regina Yau.

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Recommended Facebook Page #1: Afghan Women’s Writing Project – Afghanistan

The Afghan Women’s Writing Project reaches out to women teachers in the United States and engages them, on a volunteer rotation basis, to mentor Afghan women online. The aim of this project is to encourage women to share their stories from their unique perspectives, as sharing is itself a healing process and also a way of helping other women understand their own issues and problems. The blog aims at raising awareness while protecting the privacy of the courageous women who contribute to it. The importance of this blog is four-fold: it helps women feel proud of their stories and heritage, it educates people about Afghan women’s lives under the Taliban and their current issues, it is a method to document their present lives, and it promotes a positive link between Afghans and Americans that goes beyond what they have heard of each other’s countries.

Recommended Facebook Page #2: Edinburgh Women’s Aid – Scotland

At the Edinburgh Women’s Aid they believe that our society should be free from domestic abuse and that women and children deserve to live their lives without fear or violence. With over 40 years of experience, they provide practical and emotional support to women, children and young people at risk of domestic abuse and raise awareness by providing emotional and practical support to survivors. More importantly, their motto is to never judge anyone that reaches out for help, respecting women and their personal choices and providing them with resources.

Recommended Facebook Page #3: EVE Organization for Women’s Development – South Sudan

EVE Organization for Women Development was founded by South Sudanese women from many Sudanese Universities who came together to help transform the lives of women in South Sudan. Because of political instability, they focus their work on women’s peace and security, and socio-economic stability. However, they have gone further and are pushing for women’s participation and inclusion in decision-making and peace processes, as they understand women need to be part of the negotiations in order to achieve positive impact. They focus their community work on issues of utmost importance in South Sudan: fostering school attendance and promoting girls to go back to school, societal perception of women and their roles in the community, economic empowerment, and training and awareness for capacity building.

Recommended Facebook Page #4: Kvenréttindafélag Íslands (The Icelandic Women’s Rights Association) – Iceland and the Nordic countries

This non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Reykjavík, Iceland works on combating online VAW (including revenge porn) and has been fighting for women’s rights and gender equality since 1907. In spite of Iceland being the best country for gender equality (according to the Global Gender Gap Index), not a single territory on this planet has achieved full equality. Founded by Bríet Bjarnhéðinsdóttir, a woman who fought for suffrage rights, its focus now is on increasing women‘s representation in parliament and other leadership positions in big organisations. They also elaborate reports for the Icelandic parliament and other ministers and lobby to make gender studies a mandatory subject in secondary schools, and raise awareness about harassment and violence against women online. Moreover, they celebrate women‘s history in Iceland and support women‘s culture and women artists all year round by hosting open meetings, conferences, seminars, and other events.

Recommended Facebook Page #5: Liberty from Violence – Australia

Liberty from Violence is the newest of the chosen organisations for this year, aiming not only at raising awareness against gender violence, but also fundraising. The money raised will be used to fill in the gaps in the survivors’ paths, and they are doing so by researching current available resources in Wagga Wagga, Australia, and matching them with the current needs of the survivors. There are three programs: providing support for survivors of domestic violence (women, mothers with children and youth); supporting local refugees to help them settle, and providing funds for emergency relief purposes for survivors of domestic violence so that they don’t have to return to a violent home.

Recommended Facebook Page #6: Namibia Women’s Health Network (NWHN) – Namibia

Namibia Women’s Health Network (NWHN) is a community-based organisation, with a group of fourteen women who registered with the Ministry of Health and Social Services in 2007 to empower those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS in Namibia. They currently work with civil society organisations and the national and local governments to address the issues faced by HIV positive women in Namibia. The network currently connects 1400 members across the 13 regions of Namibia to disseminate accurate information on sexual reproductive health, prevention of mother to child transmission, cervical cancer, etc. Moreover, among other services, they guide women on organisations fighting gender-based violence and sensitising community members, policy makers, and traditional leaders on issues affecting women living with HIV.

Recommended Facebook Page #7: Nisaa Institute for Women’s Development – South Africa

They host numerous campaigns online, with the aim of raising awareness and educating people on forms of violence against women. Currently, the organisation is running a campaign on sexual consent called “Consent is Sexy!” Their unique approach is their two-fold strategy: consent not only in more casual encounters but also the importance of consent in marriages. They also host a radio program with 30-minute episodes centered on issues faced by women in their community, with the aim of encouraging open and honest talks about gender and violence against women while educating the listeners. Their third campaign is about date rape but tackles issues beyond consent such as HIV/AIDS, dating tips and support strategies for the rape survivor.

Recommended Facebook Page #8: Red Thread Women: Crossroads Women’s Centre – Guyana

Founded in 1986 (and available on Facebook chat) the Red Thread is a grassroots organisation that works with women to better their life conditions, bridging the gap between differences to transform their status. They work with women and children who have suffered the consequences of unequal distribution of power in their society and provide them with tools to help them change the power differences from within their relationships. They approach topics of world-wide interest from a local perspective: from the gender pay gap to fighting all kinds of violence against women, to foster unity and defy fights inside society.

Recommended Facebook Page #9: The RAHI Foundation –– India

RAHI, a non-profit organisation based in New Delhi, India, is a one-of-a-kind organisation in the country: it works with adult women survivors of incest and childhood sexual abuse, and offers services by providing individual and group services for survivors aimed at their psychological, emotional, sexual and spiritual recovery. Moreover, it also works with girls who have experienced child sexual abuse, works to raise awareness about incest and other forms of child sexual abuse, and offers advice to other organisations that want to start support groups in other parts of India. Furthermore, whenever they have a person online, Facebook chat shows the following message: “RAHI Foundation is active now. Start a conversation” so that visitors can chat.

Recommended Facebook Page #10: WAVAW Rape Crisis Centre – Canada

The WAVAW Rape Crisis Centre focuses on ending all forms of violence against women by challenging the status quo and the way we think about and look at things. They provide support and healing therapies to help survivors of sexualised violence and help them develop leadership for prevention of future violence. Moreover, they promote legal, social, and attitudinal changes to dismantle systemic oppression of women that perpetuates violence. Moreover, they welcome all Facebook users to engage in conversation with them, however, they are also very strict: any hateful, women-blaming comments are deleted and the user will be banned from their Facebook page.

Recommended Facebook Page #11: Women’s Aid Leicestershire Limited – England

Women’s Aid Leicestershire Limited provides free and confidential support to survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence on their journey to empowerment and also to prevent future violence. When necessary they provide survivors with safe shelter, and they also offer counseling for women and children survivors of domestic violence and sexual violence.

Recommended Facebook Page #12: Women Against Violence Association – Jordan

WAV’s mission is not only to address all kind of violence against women, but also to promote the ways in which women and their roles promote building healthy societies. Moreover, due to Jordan’s geopolitical situation, WAV also has a special chapter on terrorism, from clarifying concepts to exposing motivations to helping prevent attacks. WAV is trying to reach as many survivors as possible through different activities such as publishing articles and other stories, communication strategies, and conferences. Both their Facebook and their website are in Arabic with limited information in English.

Recommended Facebook Page #13: WomenPowerConnect – India

WomenPowerConnect is a non-profit NGO that works to foster women’s empowerment and gender justice. They work to ensure the effective implementation of gender-friendly legislation and the active participation of women in policy outcomes regarding women’s representation in Parliament, budget, prevention of sexual harassment at the workplace, and fighting sex- selective abortions, among other issues. In order to achieve their objectives, they have formed an alliance of over 1000 women’s groups and individuals from all over India to work together raising awareness about women’s issues and therefore influencing legislators and policy makers to create and implement gender friendly policies.

Recommended Facebook Page #14: Women’s Refuge New Zealand – New Zealand

Women’s Refuge is the largest NGO in New Zealand dedicated to the prevention of domestic violence, with a network of 45 affiliated women’s refuges in the country. They also offer women and children a helpline, where they answer almost seven calls every hour. Centred around building a country free from domestic and family violence, they aim to empower women and children to live free of domestic and family violence through social change fostered by education and advocacy. They also have a new program, named Whanau Project, that helps domestic violence survivors at risk of re-victimisation or further attacks to upgrade their homes with state of the art technology to help them safely stay at their place.

Recommended Facebook Page #15: Women Under Siege – International

This journalism project investigates and writes about how sexual violence including rape, was and is being used as a tool in genocide and conflict in the 20th and 21st centuries. It was created by Gloria Steinem, and building on the investigations of Sonja Hedgepeth and Rochelle Saidel (who wrote about sexual violence against Jewish women during the Holocaust and the studies of Danielle McGuire who wrote about sexual violence against black women in the USA). The project started with the intention of understanding our past so that we can prevent our societies from making the same mistakes and with the hypothesis that the gender-based violence that happened in Bosnia and Democratic Republic of the Congo’s conflicts could have been prevented from happening. They have a special chapter documenting sexual violence in Syria through a live crowdsourced map at: https://womenundersiegesyria.crowdmap.com

Recommended Facebook Page #16: The “Women Won’t Wait” Campaign – Latin American Region

This bilingual campaign is hosted in Spanish and English to reach Latin American women across borders. It’s an international coalition of women’s organisations that fosters inclusivity and diversity among its members to gather together talent, perspective and energy to promote a general switch in how societies perceive HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence. The campaign researches the links between gender-based violence and HIV/AIDS and to help break the circle with the aim to help empower women and girls with HIV/AIDS to reduce their vulnerability, by working to change policies and societal views on the issue.

The Pixel Project Selection 2017: 16 Male Role Models Helping to Stop Violence against Women

Violence Against Women (VAW) is largely deemed as a women’s issue to be tackled by women and for women. However, VAW has a negative impact on entire communities and societies and is therefore impossible to eradicate without having men and boys on board efforts to do so. For this year’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence campaign, we present our second edition of  ’16 Male Role Models Helping to Stop Violence Against Women’ which features a diverse list of men who are doing their bit towards a more gender-equal world.

The men in this list believe that ending VAW is a fight and issue that should involve everyone and not just women. Many of these men are activists who have recognised that toxic masculinity and patriarchy are harmful to young boys and men. They are working directly with boys and men to empower them in order to prevent VAW from the roots. The list also looks at men who have spoken up against VAW through various mediums like demonstrations and music, using their voice to show their solidarity and bring issues of gender-based violence to the forefront. In this post-Weinstein world where so many prominent men have been revealed as domestic abusers and sexual predators, we hope our second edition of 16 male role models against violence against women will provide living examples of positive masculinity that inspire and galvanise men and boys worldwide to become a part of the solution.

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

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. Please do click through to learn more about these remarkable men.

Written, researched, and compiled by Rubina Singh.

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Male Role Model #1: Ahmed Hegab – Egypt
After witnessing a young woman being assaulted by a mob of men on the street, Ahmed Hegab knew he had to do something. Speaking to USA Today, Ahmed shares, “I decided right there and then to quit my job and do everything I could to stop harassment.” Ahmed started volunteering with Harassmap and also started Men Engage, a program that trains men to stop gender-based violence and raise their voices for women’s empowerment.

Male Role Model #2: Ali Erkazan – Turkey
After the murder and attempted rape of a university student, Ali Erkazan, a Turkish actor, along with a number of other men expressed their anger through a public demonstration. The men dressed in mini-skirts to show their solidarity and demanded harsher punishment for VAW. Demanding stricter laws, Ali shares, “The absence of deterrent laws encourages them. Even the people in the government make incentive statements about the inequality of men and women under the name of Islam. We also condemn them.

Male Role Model #3: Chris Green – United Kingdom
Chris Green is the Director of the White Ribbon Campaign in the UK. The White Ribbon Campaign encourages men and boys to speak up against VAW. Chris is also a member of the UK End Violence Against Women Expert Advisory Group and the End Violence against Women Prevention Working Party. For his notable efforts, Chris has been awarded one of the highest honours in the UK – Order of the British Empire.

Male Role Model #4: Dean Peacock – South Africa
Ashoka fellow Dean Peacock is challenging gender inequality in South Africa by engaging men and boys in the fight against VAW. Dean is the Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of Sonke Gender Justice Network, which works to strengthen government, civil society and citizen capacity to support men and boys to take action to promote gender equality, prevent domestic and sexual violence, and reduce the spread and impact of HIV and AIDS. Dean is also the Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the MenEngage Alliance and a member of the UN Secretary General’s Network of Men Leaders.

Male Role Model #5: Dr. Ganesh Rakh – India
In a country where girls face GBV even before they are born, Dr. Ganesh Rakh is doing his part to ensure that girls at least get a fighting chance. Noting the high rate of female feticide and infanticide, Ganesh initiated a campaign “Mulgi Vachva Abhiyan” (Save the Girl Child) in his city. While most doctors increase their fees over time, Ganesh decided that he would not charge any fee from the family if a girl child was born. Not only that, his hospital also celebrates the birth of every girl child. His ultimate aim: “I want to change attitudes – of people, doctors. The day people start celebrating a daughter’s birth, I’ll start charging my fee again.”

Male Role Model #6: Edgar Ramirez – Venezuela
Edgar Ramirez is an actor, producer, and activist from Venezuela. As a HeForShe advocate, he spoke about the impact that gender inequality has on boys and men, “In the journey for equality, women and men are like two strands of DNA wrapped together in an embrace. Our burdens are as intertwined as our common destiny. The constraints that burden me will eventually burden you. And the same is true in reverse: as long as you are burdened, I am too. By recognizing this inter-dependence, I can work for your well-being and know that I am also working towards my own. I can know that whatever action I take to free you, also frees me. This is not just what makes us human. This is what makes us a human family.

Male Role Model #7: Fang Gang – China
Fang Gang is the Director of the Institute of Sexuality and Gender Study at the Beijing Forestry University. He is also the Director of the China White Ribbon Volunteers Network. Through his work, Fang Gang is attempting to reduce the taboo around sexuality, and challenge accepted norms of masculinity in China. Sharing his views in an interview with Vice, Fang said, “I want to encourage men to be involved in promoting gender equality, including taking care of children, sharing housework, and fighting against job discrimination. In the past our work focused on people who committed violence and their victims, now we want to go back further and target regular people, asking what we should do to prevent men from committing violence in the first place.”

Male Role Model #8: Feđa Mehmedović – Bosnia and Herzegovina
Feđa Mehmedović is the Project Coordinator with the XY Association and winner of a competition promoting gender equality in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Stories of Real Men. Hecworks with men and boys to change their attitude and behaviour towards VAW. He has trained more than 10,000 young people as part of his Young Men as Allies programme in preventing violence against women. Feđa is also an advocate for the UN HeForShe campaign.

Male Role Model #9: Gary Barker – Brazil
Involving men and boys in the fight against VAW is imperative and Gary Barker has been doing just that through his organisation, Promundo. His work has been recognised by organisations such as Ashoka and the United Nations. Explaining the philosophy behind Promundo, Gary shared the following insights in an interview: “We believed, from our direct experiences in working in violence prevention in favelas in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, that we would only end violence and achieve equality if we engaged men as allies, as voices for change, and as activists in the process. We were also inspired by young and adult men who wanted to be part of the movement and who were already living out equitable, non-violent ways of being men.

Male Role Model #10: Jim C. Hines – USA
Jim C. Hines is a Hugo-award winning American Fantasy writer who has been doing his bit to end sexism in the science fiction/fantasy world. He noticed that many science-fiction and fantasy cover art overtly sexualies female characters. In an effort to bring attention to the issue, he decided to contort himself into the various poses that women are put into. But, his efforts go much beyond gender-flipped covers. After he found out about a friend’s rape, he decided to work towards ending VAW in different ways. He has previously worked as a crisis counsellor, written articles and a novel around VAW, and he is also one of the only authors whose website has an entire section dedicated to resources for survivors of rape and sexual assault. Jim has also actively supported The Pixel Project by being a part of our campaigns such as Read for Pixels.

Male Role Model #11: Michael Flood – Australia
Holding a PhD in Gender and Sexuality Studies, Michael Flood researches masculinity and violence prevention. His research indicates that a man’s understanding of masculinity can lead to VAW. In an interview with Huffington Post Australia, he says, “It’s very clear that if we compare the men that do use violence and the men that don’t, one key difference is in their ideas about being a man. Men (who) use violence are much more likely to be invested in the idea to be a man is to be in control, dominant and have power over women. Those ideas about masculinity link to broader patterns of gender inequality. And really, it’s gender inequality that shapes some men’s use of violence against women.

Male Role Model #12: Noel Cabangon – The Philippines
Music has the power to reach any corner of the world. Noel Cabangon, a Filipino singer and songwriter, used the power of music through his song Men Move to encourage men to “bring all violence against women to an end”. The song was originally written for the Philippine Commission of Women and was later adapted for the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign.

Male Role Model #13: Nur Hasyim – Indonesia
While he has been working for women’s rights for many years, in 2006, Nur Hasyim started working towards engaging men and boys to end VAW. He is the founder and head of ‘Aliansi Laki-Laki Baru’ (New Men Alliance) in Indonesia, a national pro-feminist men’s movement. His research in the field has led to the development of a curriculum towards behaviour change for male abusive partners. Recognising his work, Nur has been included by the United Nations in the Secretary General’s Network of Men Leaders.

Male Role Model #14: Ravi Karkara – United States of America and Worldwide
Ravi Karkara is Senior Advisor on Strategic Partnerships and Advocacy to the Assistant Secretary General to the UN and Deputy Executive Director, UN Women. Ravi has been fighting to end violence against women since the beginning of his career. Not only is he working with women, he also believes in the importance of working with men to end VAW. Ravi shared his views on working with boys and men in a recent interview: “While we need to teach women and girls how to fight for their human rights, we also need to focus on boys and change their attitudes towards girls and women.

Male Role Model #15: Salif Keita – Mali
Popularly known as the “Golden Voice of Africa”, Salif Keita has been using his art for activism. A vocal supporter of women’s rights, he has endorsed the UN HeforShe campaign as well. In a message for the campaign, Salif said, “The world is undergoing change and modernization in the right direction, and for every man who recognises the value and role of women, we must be sensitised to act for their well-being.”

Male Role Model #16: William Gay – United States of America
As a young boy, NFL Star William Gay lost his mother because of domestic violence. Having felt the impact of VAW so closely, William understands the need to end VAW. While William found professional success with NFL, he wanted to use his star power to shine a light on gender-based violence. Among many other initiatives, William supports the Women’s Center and Shelter in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. He uses his time at the shelter to speak to the survivors and share his story. In an interview with People Magazine, he shared, “I want people out there to know that someone in the NFL has been that child who lost their mother and is willing to do anything to end domestic violence.

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Photo Credits:

  1. Ahmed Hegab – from Linkedin.com
  2. Ali Erkazan – From Alticine.com
  3. Chris Green – From “Parliaments United In Combating Domestic Violence Against Women” (Council of Europe)
  4. Dean Peacock – From “Sonke Gender Justice”
  5. Dr. Ganesh Rakh – From “Ganesh Rakh: The doctor who delivers India’s girls for free” (Anushree Fadnavis/BBC News)
  6. Edgar Ramirez – From “Edgar Ramirez, Emma Watson use star power to push for gender equality at UN event” (Rob Kim/Fox News)
  7. Fang Gang – From “Fang Gang: Sex Education Should be Implemented Early” (Chinese Women’s Research Network)
  8. Feđa Mehmedović – From “Stories of Real Men – Feđa Mehmedović”
  9. Gary Barker – From “Network of Men Leaders” (UNiTE)
  10. Jim C. Hines – Courtesy of Jim C. Hines
  11. Michael Flood – From “Is ‘Engaging Men’ the Game Changer for Gender Equality” (Annual Diversity Debate)
  12. Noel Cabangon – From “Noel Cabangon ‘inspired’ by Pope Francis visit” (The Philippine Star)
  13. Nur Hasyim – From “World Press Freedom Day 2017” (UNESCO)
  14. Ravi Karkara – From “Meet the People Extraordinaire – Ravi Karkara” (Sayfty)
  15. Salif Keita – From “Salif Keita – The “Golden Voice of Africa”
  16. William Gay – From NFL star reveals heartbreaking moment he came home from school to discover his mother shot dead by his stepdad in murder-suicide

The Pixel Project Selection 2016: 16 Books About Violence Against Women

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Stories have the power to fire the imagination and provoke new thoughts and ideas. For this purpose, The Pixel Project has put together a list of 16 books that depict violence against women and girls. Some of these stories are fictional and some are not, but all of them will educate the reader in some way about violence, rape culture, cultural mores and misogyny.

The stories on this list have been taken from various genres, from thrillers and dramas to science fiction and autobiographies but they all show a common trend of entrenched and pervasive violence against women in the diverse societies they portray. They do, however, offer threads of hope, with people and characters pushing back against the tide and fighting for a world where women and girls are free from violence.

This list is not exhaustive; there are hundreds of stories out there that deal with violence against women in its various forms. But we hope that these 16 stories will education and inspire you as they have galvanised others over the years to push for change in your community.

Written and compiled by Anushia Kandasivam


Selection number 1: Speak (1999) by Laurie Halse Anderson

speak_1st_edition_cover

This young adult novel tells the story of a teenager Melinda Sordino who starts the new school year as a selective mute. She is ostracised by her peers because she had called the police to a house party but the truth about why she did this is not revealed until much later. Melinda finds a way to express herself through art with the help of a supportive teacher, which helps her come to terms with her trauma and finally give voice to it. Speak is written in a diary format, so the plot is non-linear and jumpy, mimicking Melinda’s feelings and her journey. It is interesting to note that this book has faced censorship because of its mature content. It was made into a film in 2004 starring Kristen Stewart.

Selection number 2: The Colour Purple (1982) by Alice Walker

colorpurpleA Pulitzer Prize winning novel set in rural Georgia, USA in the 1930s, The Colour Purple focuses on the lives of African American women, including their low social status, struggles through poverty and the sexism and sexual violence they have to live through. The story follows Celie, a poor and uneducated teenage girl who experiences sexual violence from a young age and who is forced to marry an older man. The novel not only explores the themes of violence, sexism and racism, it also touches on gender roles, with several characters blurring the boundaries of gender expectations. There is also a strong underlying theme of sisterhood – women supporting each other through the trials and tribulations of life. In fact, it is this strong bond between the main women characters in the novel that enables their self-realisation and growth. Despite its popularity and awards, The Colour Purple continues to be challenged by censors for its depictions of violence and homosexuality, among other things. It has been adapted into a film and a musical.

Selection number 3: La Dangereuse (2016) by Loubna Abidar and Marion Van Renterghem

la-dangereuseLa Dangereuse (The Dangerous Woman) is the French-language autobiography of Moroccan actress Loubna Abidar, based on interviews with Le Monde journalist Marion Van Renterghem, tells the story of how Abidar overcame poverty and physical and sexual abuse by her father to become one of Morocco’s most acclaimed young actresses. Last year, Abidar was vilified for playing the role of a prostitute in award-winning local film Much Loved and was later beaten on the streets of Casablanca. A refugee ever since, the 31-year-old speaks frankly in her book about the hypocrisy of men, the weight of tradition and taboos and the profound misogyny in her society and culture, but also declares that she refuses to live in fear.

Selection number 4: The Shining Girls (2013) by Lauren Beukes

laurenbeukes_shininggirls_1st_edThis science fiction thriller by South African author Beukes steps back and forth through time following a serial killer who is compelled to stalk and murder ‘shining girls’, young women with great potential whom he sees as literally shining. One of his victims, Kirby Mazrachi, who was attacked in 1989, survives and turns the tables, hunting him back. Besides the mystery and thriller elements, the novel also depicts a survivor’s story through Kirby and how she deals with the aftermath of her attack, and offers readers strong and powerful female characters who overcome their fears to fight back.

Selection number 5: Trafficked: My Story of Surviving, Escaping and Transcending Abduction into Prostitution (2013) by Sophie Hayes

traffickedThis first-hand account of a human trafficking survivor took the author’s home country by storm when it first came out because of one surprising detail – the author and survivor Sophie Hayes is from the UK, a country not known for human trafficking and where people are not as aware of sex trafficking as they should be. Hayes, a young, educated English woman, was tricked and abducted by a man she thought of as her boyfriend and forced to work as a prostitute in a strange country. Beaten and otherwise abused, Hayes took advantage of a chance opportunity to escape. This memoir has generated much discussion in the UK and other first-world countries about the unseen world of human trafficking as well as calls for more awareness and better law and policy. Hayes along with a small team also set up The Sophie Hayes Foundation, which conducts research on human trafficking, creates awareness and offers support to survivors.

Selection number 6: The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II (1997) by Iris Chang

therapeofnanking_1edcoverThis bestselling non-fiction book is about the Nanking Massacre, the 1937-1938 campaign of mass murder and rape by the Imperial Japanese Army after its capture of the city of Nanjing, then the capital of China. In the book, Chang details the atrocities committed by the Japanese Army, including killing, torture and rape; women and girls from all classes and of all ages were raped. The book has received as much criticism as it has acclaim but either way it did much to bring light to a much-ignored yet significant part of World War II, war crimes in general and war crimes perpetrated against women specifically.

Selection number 7: If I Were a Boy (1936) by Haki Stёrmilli

sikur_tisha_djale-if-i-were-a-boyThis Albanian-language epistolary novel (Sikur t’isha djalё) tells the story of a young girl named Dija as she goes through life in the strictly patriarchal Albanian society. Told through a series of diary entries read by Dija’s male cousin, it describes in first person the hardships, struggles and horrors she experiences throughout her life because of her having virtually no say in anything that happens to her. She is forced into marriage to a much older man, suffers abuse, and battles depression and suicidal thoughts.

Selection number 8: Indigo Blue (2005) by Cathy Cassidy

indigo-blueA children’s book, Indigo Blue is about young Indigo whose mother suddenly decides to move her and her baby sister out of their cozy house to a ‘flat from hell’. While at first she does not understand why they have to leave their old life and her mother’s boyfriend behind and suffer poor living conditions and not enough food, Indigo eventually learns to take charge and make the most of her situation. The novel depicts domestic violence, love and depression in various forms, giving young readers some understanding and insight into a family situation that has become prevalent in all societies.

Selection number 9: A Handmaid’s Tale (1985) by Margaret Atwood

thehandmaidstale1stedA dystopian speculative fiction novel set in the near future, A Handmaid’s Tale has won and been nominated for several awards and been adapted for film, radio, opera and stage. Exploring the themes of the subjugation of women, it tells the story of a particular young woman call Offred who is a handmaid, part of the class of women whose sole purpose is reproduction in a society where people are divided and distinguished by sex, occupation and caste. Clothing is colour-coded to reflect this division and it is strongly implied that while some men clothes, such as military uniforms, empower men, women have little to no power in society. The novel engenders discussion about control over people – Offred struggles for agency throughout the story – consent in relationships and the need for women to support each other.

Selection number 10: My Story (2014) by Elizabeth Smart with Chris Stewart

my-storyNow a child safety activist, Elizabeth Smart was 14 when she was abducted from her home in Salt Lake City and rescued nine months later. In this memoir, Smart tells of her ordeal, her determined hold on hope and how she devised a plan to increase her chances of escape or rescue. She also details how she coped after the fact, seeing justice served and her journey of healing and becoming an advocate. The novel emphasises the importance of individual self worth in survivors. Smart founded the Elizabeth Smart Foundation to prevent and put a stop to predatory crimes.

Selection number 11: Echo Burning (2001) by Lee Child

echo-burningThe fifth book in the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child and a thriller at its core, Echo Burning also explores domestic abuse. In the story, Reacher is approached by a woman, Carmen, who wants her husband killed because he is about to be released from prison and return home, whereupon he will inevitably start beating her again. Child has said that, inspired by an American Old West gunfighter who ‘never killed a man that did not need killing’, he wanted to explore the idea of man who Reacher is told needed killing. The story also explores the ambiguity of character – there is always a question whether Carmen can be trusted – as well as the diversity of American society as reflected in the character of a powerful female lawyer.

Selection number 12: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2005) by Stieg Larsson

thegirlwiththedragontattooThis internationally bestselling psychological thriller, titled Mӓn som hatar kvinnor (Men Who Hate Women) in its original Swedish, was translated and published in English in 2008. The eponymous girl is brilliant but troubled researcher and hacker Lisbeth Salander, who assists protagonist Mikael Blomkvist as he has been hired to solve the disappearance and possible murder of a girl. There is a strong theme of violence against women in various forms, including sexual predation and murder, and the story shows how violence can happen to and be perpetrated by anyone from any social class.

Selection number 13: Rose Madder (1995) by Stephen King

rosemadderThough Stephen King has explored the theme of domestic violence in several novels, in Rose Madder it plays an integral part of the plot. The protagonist is Rose Daniels, who lives with an abusive husband for 14 years before finally deciding that she has to leave him. The story shows this turning point and her subsequent journey to self-realisation while dealing with the constant fear that her husband, a policeman who is good at finding people, will track her down.

 

Selection number 14: Something Is Wrong at My House: A Book About Parents’ Fighting (2010) by Diane Davis

something-is-wrong-at-my-houseBased on a true story, this book was created for children who are seeking help for and understanding of domestic violence. It is written so that it can be used by both very young and school-age children, with simple but clear text and illustrations to help children make sense of a frightening situation and encourage them to talk about it with trusted adults. It is also designed so that it can be used by teachers, school counsellors and nurses, and therapists.

 

Selection number 15: Woman at Point Zero (1973) by Nawal El Saadawi

woman_at_point_zero_1st_eng_edBased on the author’s encounter with a female prisoner in Qanatir Prison in Egypt during her research into female neurosis, the premise of this story is a psychiatrist visiting a prison in which she meets and speaks with an unusual female prisoner, Firdaus, who has been accused of murder and is scheduled for execution. The story is that of the Firdaus’ life from her poor childhood when she witnessed domestic violence, survives genital mutilation and sexual abuse, to being forced into marriage with an older man and living through a violent marriage. Firdaus tells of how she gained agency, power and reached self-realisation before everything came crashing down.

Selection number 16: Alias (2001 – 2004) created by Brian Michael Bendis and Micahael Gaydos

aliasomnibusPublished by Marvel Comics under it MAX imprint, the Alias comic book series follows protagonist Jessica Jones after she leaves behind her life as a costumed hero and becomes a private investigator. The overarching story arc across the 28 issues is Jones’ character development as she comes to terms with a traumatic past where she was manipulated and abused, and as she struggles to deal with the present-day physical, emotional and mental consequences. Adapted into an on-going television series called Jessica Jones in 2015, this series has won two awards and been nominated for others.


Photo credits:

  1. Speak – From www.nobelwomensinitiative.org
  2. The Colour Purple – https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19909555
  3. La Dangereuse – From Amazon.fr 
  4. The Shining Girls – from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39574596 (Book Cover design by Joey Hi-Fi)
  5. Trafficked: My Story of Surviving, Escaping and Transcending Abduction into Prostitution – From Amazon.com
  6. The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II  – From https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12768170
  7. If I Were a Boy – From https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36126680
  8. Indigo Blue – From Amazon.com
  9. A Handmaid’s Tale – From https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20132070
  10. My Story – From Amazon.com
  11. Echo Burning – From World of Books.
  12. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – From https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17084782
  13. Rose Madder – From https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15658136
  14. Something Is Wrong at My House: A Book About Parents’ Fighting – From Amazon.com
  15. Woman at Point Zero – From https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32458784
  16. Alias – From https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5599614

The Pixel Project’s VAW e-News Digest – The ’16 for 16’ 2015 Edition

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

2015 saw landmark decisions by countries to eradicate female genital mutilation as Nigeria and Gambia both outlaw the practice and the United Kingdom makes it compulsory to report its occurrence. Initiatives against domestic violence have also seen progress with countries adopting new measures to help protect women. Silicon Valley giants like Twitter, Reddit and Google have also taken steps to decrease occurrence of violence against women online.

To start off, here are the 16 of the biggest trending VAW headlines of 2015:

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


Rape and Sexual Assault


Human/Sex Trafficking


Female Genital Mutilation


Forced Marriage and Honour Killing


Activism

The Pixel Project Selection 2015: 16 Notable Anti-VAW Activists and Organisations You Should Follow on Twitter

twitter1-300x225Twitter has quickly become a reliable news source for many individuals.  It offers a real-time view and perspective of what is occurring both elsewhere and in our own communities, enabling us to become more aware of social issues like violence against women and join discussions to become more involved with these causes.

Twitter allows us to share information, a tool to help us better our world through understanding, and create an atmosphere of solidarity worldwide. Being able to look up a hashtag – #vaw for example – in order to find news sources, helplines, or other activists is a simple yet incredibly useful way to become involved.

With that in mind, The Pixel Project presents our 2015 Twitter selection of 16 organisations and individuals leveraging Twitter in the cause to end violence against women. These are groups and people who will keep you informed simply because they share the passion to create a better tomorrow for girls and women everywhere.

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 


Twitter Follow Recommendation #1: The A21 Campaign (@A21) – Global

A21 LogoThe A21 Campaign’s mission is to end human trafficking in the 21st century. A21 follows a “4 P model,” focusing on prevention, protection, partnerships and prosecution. Working in over 21 countries, A21 has offices in Greece, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Great Britain, Norway, Thailand and more. Followers of the A21 Twitter Page have the opportunity to follow real updates, lobbying efforts and number of rescues as they occur.

Twitter Follow Recommendation #2: Alexandra Pham (@DaughtersRising) – Thailand

AlexandraPhamAlexandra Pham is the founder of Daughters Rising, a nonprof0it organisation fighting sex trafficking by empowering and educating at-risk girls. Alexandra and her team created the RISE workshops to teach girls real world skills, including computer skills, women’s health and more. Pham also founded Chai Lai Orchid where she runs training and educational programming.

Twitter Follow Recommendation #3: AWID (@awid) – Global

AWID LogoThe Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) is an global, feminist, membership organisation committed to women’s human rights. AWID works with various organisations to create a collective voice against gender injustice. The multilingual AWID Twitter page shares news on global, national and local levels and provides timely and accurate information for activists to use in their own programs and projects.

Twitter Follow Recommendation #4: Chime for Change (@ChimeForChange) – Global

CHIME-FOR-CHANGE-LogoChime for Change is a global campaign raising awareness and funds for girls and women around the world, ensuring accessibility of education, health and justice. The organisation uses creative projects and programmes to achieve their goals, including short documentary films, global concerts and more. The Chime for Change Twitter page updates followers on over 409 projects across 86 countries. Following the hashtag #ChimeIn allows followers to interact with the organisation and give their opinions and thoughts on different programs, news, and events.

Twitter Follow Recommendation #5: Feminist Frequency (@femfreq) – United States of America

Feminist Frequency LogoCreated by media critic Anita Sarkeesian, Feminist Frequency is a video web series that discusses the portrayals of women in pop culture narratives. The videos serve as an educational resource and encourage creators to improve the representations of women in their work. Sarkeesian focuses many of her online discussions on the stereotypes and harassment of women in online and gaming spaces. She received the 2015 Game Developers Choice Ambassador Award, was nominated for Microsoft’s 2014 Women in Games Ambassador Award, and is a judge for the Games for Change Awards.

Twitter Follow Recommendation #6: He for She (@HeForShe) – Global

he-for-she-logoHe for She is a movement founded by the United Nations, and supported by big names such as Emma Watson, President Obama, Matt Damon, Ban Ki-moon and more. The He for She movement brings together men and women in support of equality for women. Supporters take action against gender discrimination and violence and understand that equality benefits everyone.

Twitter Follow Recommendation #7: Its on Us (@ItsOnUs) – United States of America

ItsOnUs LogoFounded by Generation Progress and the White House, the It’s on Us Campaign aims to change the culture around sexual assault on campuses across the United States. The organisation provides resources to recognise, identify, and intervene in sexual assault, and develop a safe environment to support survivors. The It’s on Us Twitter page provides important news, legal updates and information on campus sexual assaults, keeps its followers updated on events through live-tweeting, and retweets videos and programmes from colleges and universities supporting following It’s On Us initiative.

Twitter Follow Recommendation #8: Konbit Sante (KonbitSante) – Haiti

KonbitSanteKonbit Sante’s mission is to create lasting change in Haitian healthcare. The organisation believes in promoting the empowerment of people to meet their own needs. Of their many clinical initiatives, Konbit Sante focuses on women’s health and works to improve maternal outcomes in Cap-Haitien. In Haiti, more women die in pregnancy and childbirth than any other country in the Western Hemisphere. Additionally, Konbit Sante works to improve emergency response time at the regional referral hospital and provides education and outreach at the community level.

Twitter Follow Recommendation #9: Män för Jämställdhet (@ManForJamst) – Sweden

ManMän för Jämställdhet, translated to Men for Gender Equality, is a Swedish organisation engaging men and boys in violence prevention. Operating on a local, national and Global level, Män för Jämställdhet fights masculine stereotypes and aims to reform them to support women’s health and rights. Follow Män för Jämställdhet on Twitter for receive updates on their various programmes, including Machofabriken (The Macho Factory) or Killfrågor.se (BoysQuestions.com).

Twitter Follow Recommendation #10: Refuge (@RefugeCharity) United Kingdom

RefugeRefuge is a provider of specialist services for women and children escaping domestic violence. Through provision, protection and prevention, Refuge empowers women and children to rebuild their lives, free from violence and fear. Leading the charge against domestic violence since 1971, Refuge funds and plans campaigns, participates in lobbying efforts, publishes information on the effects of domestic violence, trains staff of various organisations and respond to individual needs. The multi-lingual Twitter page is a resource for news on supporting survivors, ending domestic violence, and more and is staffed Monday through Friday.

Twitter Follow Recommendation #11: Safe Delhi Campaign (@JagoriSafeDelhi) – India

safedelhihomepagelogoInspired by the many noninclusive changes of Delhi’s infrastructure, the Safe Delhi Campaign was founded in 2004. The campaign focuses on women’s rights to participate in city life and their right to be guaranteed an equal opportunity to use public spaces. Members of the Safe Delhi Campaign partner with citizen groups, create and promote public awareness campaigns, and conduct safety audits in commercial, residential and educational areas across the city to identify unsafe issues. The Safe Delhi Campaign programming fights poor urban infrastructure, lack of apathy on public transportation, and other ideas and beliefs about appropriate behavior.

Twitter Follow Recommendation #12: Speak Up for the Poor (@SpeakUp4ThePoor) – Bangladesh

SpeakUpForthePoorSpeak Up for the Poor is an organisation that works to create safe homes for girls born into brothels, rescued from human trafficking, or at risk of exploitation. It also runs an educational program and investigates and handles cases of abuse against girls. Those following the Speak Up for the Poor Twitter account will not only receive updates on programmes and successes in Bangladesh, but also worldwide.

Twitter Follow Recommendation #13: Together for Girls (@together4girls) – United States of America

Together For GirlsTogether for Girls is dedicated to ending violence against children, with a focus on sexual violence against girls. Together for Girls also publishes Safe, the first magazine on violence against children. The yearly magazine shares stories of survivors and highlights various individuals, activists, organisations, and communities who are working to protect children.

Twitter Follow Recommendation #14: UN Trust Fund To End Violence Against Women (@UNTrustFundEVAW) – Global

UNTrustFundThe UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women is committed to ending all forms of violence against women and girls. The UN Trust Fund is a grant-making mechanism that works with various global and local organisations. The organisation’s Twitter page shares global news and updates from its various partners, including news from Mongolia, South Africa, Asia and more. The UN Trust Fund empowers groups and communities to take part in prevention efforts, provides services to survivors, and lobbies for legal changes.

Twitter Follow Recommendation #15: Womens Link (@womenslink) Spain and Colombia

WomensLinkWomen’s Link’s bilingual Twitter page provides important legal updates, statistics and reports in English and Spanish to support gender equality around the world. An Global Human Health Risk Research (HHRR) organisation, Women’s Link uses the power of the law to create change in various ares, including gender justice, human trafficking, global gender crimes, global discrimination, migrant women rights and sexual and reproductive rights.

Twitter Follow Recommendation #16: Women Thrive (@WomenThrive) – Global

WomenThriveWorldwideWomen Thrive is an American lobbying organisation bringing the voice of global women directly to Washington, DC. Advocating for change on a national and global level, Women Thrive looks at women and poverty in Africa, education for girls, economic opportunity and poverty, violence against women and girls, women and world hunger, women, global assistance and more. The Women Thrive twitter page provides an inside look at important conferences, programs, and legal updates by sharing resources and live-tweeting events such as the #Gender360Summit.

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

16days-header-female-rolemodels-2014-1n

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.

Activism 101: 16 Ways to Commemorate World Human Rights Day

Today is World Human Rights Day which celebrates and commemorates the creation and existence of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which came into being on 10 December 1948. It is one of the most significant days in the United Nations’ calendar of events and it is traditionally on 10 December that the five-yearly United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights and Nobel Peace Prize are awarded. In addition, many activists, charities, government bodies, non-governmental organisations and grassroots groups working on all aspects of human rights protection and promotion schedule special events in observance of the day. Continue reading