16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign kicks off with regional event convened by the League of Arab States and the UN

Date: Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Group picture at the regional launch of the 16 Days of Activism held at the League of Arab States on 25 November 2018.

On 25 November, the League of Arab States (LAS) and the United Nations Regional Gender Theme Group (R-GTG) launched the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, renewing a shared commitment and strong partnership to support survivors of violence in the Arab States region.

From 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day, the “16 Days of Activism” is a time to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world.

The 2018 global theme is “Hear Me Too” highlighting the crucial need for the voices of women, especially survivors of violence, to be heard and acted upon. It is also an opportunity for the communities and more specifically youth to understand the root causes of violence in their communities, to educate and involve their peers and communities to prevent such violence, and to learn about where to access support if violence is experienced.

During her opening remarks, Ambassador Dr. Haifa Abu Ghazaleh, Assistant Secretary General of the League of Arab States and Head of Social Affairs Sector, highlighted LAS’s efforts towards the development of an Arab Convention to end violence against women and girls, including domestic violence.

The Convention, she explained, will aim to address the need to better integrate protection needs of women and girls survivors of violence in the development of legislation, plans and strategies, as well as the revisions of laws. Strong coordination and partnership among concerned stakeholders will be key to foster a systematic approach across all sectors.

 “Women in the Arab States region are facing real challenges in the absence of policies and mechanism to bring violence perpetrators to justice especially with all what the region is going through of occupation, armed conflicts, and economic crisis.” Said Dr. Abu Ghazaleh in her statement.

Ambassador Dr. Haifa Abu Ghazaleh, Assistant Secretary General of League of Arab States and Head of Social Affairs Sector.

 “By coming together, the United Nations, the League of Arab States and its member States send a powerful message: women and girls’ lives matter and only by working together can we bring lasting change; only by joining forces can we end violence against women” affirmed Ms. Blerta Aliko, UN Women Representative in Egypt on behalf of the UN Regional Gender Theme Group.

Read the joint statement by the League of Arab States and the United Nations Regional Gender Theme Group on occasion of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence here (Arabic).

Blerta Aliko, UN Women Representative in Egypt, speaking on behalf of the UN Regional Gender Theme Group.

The event also featured the participation of Mr. Dhafer L’Abidine, Tunisian actor and gender equality advocate, and Ms. Yousra, Egyptian actress and UNAIDS Regional Goodwill Ambassador for the Middle East and North Africa, who joined the event to show support and solidarity with survivors of violence in the region.

Rewriting ‘HerStory’ in Arabic

As part of the event and in partnership with UN Women’s HerStory initiative, the event brought together 100 young volunteers to produce and disseminate online knowledge in Arabic about women’s issues and gender equality in the Arab States region.

Youth volunteers engaged in the Her Story ‘editathon’ held during the regional launch of the 16 Days of Activism on 25 November 2018 at the League of Arab States.
May Hashem, Co-Founder of UN Women’s HerStory initiative

With an ambitious target of 1,600 new articles added or edited on Arabic Wikipedia by the end of the 16 Days campaign, HerStory volunteers presented their journey to raise awareness and help to close the gender knowledge gap, which started in 2016. The initiative is set to continue throughout the 16 Days campaign, with various ‘editathons’ organized in Alexandria, Beirut, Cairo, Rabat, and Tunis, engaging over 400 volunteers in the region.

 “Through our research of prominent women in the Arab States, we found that bringing more women into top decision-making positions at all levels has proven to be beneficial for governments, companies and communities. A change of our current direction is imperative,” said May Hashem, Co-Founder of UN Women’s HerStory initiative at the event.

All photos: UN Women/Emad Karim