UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency organizes a number of activities across Pakistan in collaboration with UN agencies, its partners and refugees to mark the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence – an international campaign that runs from 25 November through 10 December every year.
Individuals, institutions and organizations across the world plan activities to highlight that violence against women is a breach of human rights, calling for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.
To support this initiative, started by the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991, the United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign by 2030 (UNiTE campaign) calls for global action to increase awareness, galvanize advocacy efforts, and share knowledge and innovations. This year’s theme is “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!” which focuses on the COVID-19 crisis.
While keeping in mind COVID-19 SOPs, UNHCR’s offices across Pakistan have planned activities that focus on combating violence against women and girls, including to emphasize the positive role of individuals.
The UNHCR Representative in Pakistan, Ms. Noriko Yoshida, said that arranging such activities are aimed at expressing solidarity with survivors of violence and raising awareness about discriminatory practices against women. “Everyone has a role to play to end violence against women and make the world a safer and prosperous place to live in,” she said.
She further said that COVID-19 has exacerbated the risks of gender-based violence for women and girls, including those forcibly displaced, adding that prevention and response are life-saving, and this must be maintained as essential during COVID-19 lockdowns.
In Islamabad, UNHCR, together with its partners, aims to hold a virtual power talk event in December. It will be an opportunity for refugee youth and academics to discuss and shed light on the voices of women during the COVID-19 crisis and their resilience and efforts to act as agents of change in their communities.
In Peshawar, UNHCR and UN Women held an opening ceremony on Wednesday to mark the start of the 16 Days of Activism. On the occasion, the speakers, including female parliamentarians, called for collective efforts to prevent and address the issues of gender-based violence.
Students also performed a role play underlining the risks of gender-based violence in the COVID-19 pandemic. Female Afghan refugees also narrated their stories and shed light on how they pursued their ambitions amid challenges.
In Quetta, a seminar was held on Wednesday in Pishin City on the theme of “Ending violence against women”. The speakers included religious scholars and other notable community members.
To mark the last day of the 16 Days of Activism on 10 December – Human Rights Day – UNHCR will also hold an event in Quetta with refugees and Pakistani host community members. The event will include experience-sharing by female social change promoters from the refugee community.