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Leave No One Behind-End Violence against Women and Girls

Did you notice a lot of #metoo in your social media feeds this fall?

If you did not, it was a global outcry from individuals who had experienced various forms of sexual harassment and assault. There were others who chose not to post, but the hashtag exposed that violence against women and girl is pervasive. And it’s a universal problem. Having a universal problem also means that the fight against violence and promotion of gender equality requires a global effort.

Earlier this year, the United Nations focused their initiatives on reforming gender-discriminatory laws that entrench and perpetuate gender inequality, as part of their “Roadmap for Substantive Equality: 2030”. But moving from a roadmap to policy implementation is no easy task—requiring cooperation from across all sectors—governments, civil society, local, and international organizations. UN Women has determined this year’s theme is “Leave No One Behind—End Violence Against Women and Girls”.

 

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Between 25 November, the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women and 10 December, Human Rights Day, the UNiTE Campaign has determined the 16 days between the two observed holidays as an opportunity to bring awareness and mobilize the international community to end the violence against women and girls around the world. UN Women will run their campaign on “Orange the World 2017”, unifying under the color orange.

HEAL Africa is joining the international community at the local level, adapting the UN Women’s campaign to “Orange Your Quarter”. During the 16 days, HEAL Africa will intensify its efforts, carrying out a campaign to bring awareness in the Nyiragongo Territory and the Mugunga Quarter. Recently, more than 50 women were raped in the area. And this is not the first time.

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The Democratic Republic of the Congo has been plagued by conflict for over two decades. In the North Kivu province, violence and conflict have become the norm. Armed groups and rogue members of the FARDC (Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo –the Congolese National Armed Forces), among others, have terrorized villages and suburban areas of the province. Women and young girls are victims of rape and various types of violence. Some have been perpetrated by those called to assure their security.

 

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Gender-based violence is not limited to the ongoing conflict. For many families, gender-based violence and rape is a norm and is perceived as a way to “protect” their women and girls. Acts of discrimination and violence is customary in some tribal practices. Parents continue to encourage their daughters to marry before the age of eighteen. In DRC it is the man and his family’s responsibility to provide the dowry to both the woman and her family. With absolute poverty so widespread, the value of the dowry perpetuates a societal problem that places women and girls at a disadvantage.

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Through the Social Fund project and with support from FSRDC, the campaign will focus on addressing the following issues/questions: Early marriage and its consequences; How do we stop violence against women and girls? What are the causes and consequences of gender-based violence? Discuss the role of gender inequality as a contributing factor to sexual and gender-based violence in our community. How do we confront the problem as a community?

 

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HEAL Africa’s goal is to reach thirty local chiefs and thirty religious leaders, sensitize them and bring them on board with the mission to end the violence and discrimination. HEAL Africa is also aiming to reach 150 (80 girls and 70 boys) teenagers through schools, between the ages of 12-17. After sensitizing them about gender-based violence, the hope is that they will spread their message among their network of family and friends through their behavior.

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Splitting into two teams, HEAL Africa gathered men, boys, and community leaders for discussions concerning social norms to develop new attitudes and behavior that promote gender equality and gender-based violence prevention within families, churches, and the broader community.

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