Wednesday, September 20, 2017

CSOs launch ‘16 Days of Activism’ as part of global campaign to end domestic violence

Thirty of Myanmar’s civil society groups will launch a 16 Days of Activism program this week, linking up with a global campaign to promote women’s rights.

From November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, until December 10, Human Rights Day, the advocacy groups are focusing on ways to end violence against women.

“This program aims to raise awareness of the need to eliminate violence against women in Myanmar and the world, and to continue the reach of advocacy messages to every corner of [the country],” a statement from the civil society groups said.

A number of activities have been planned in Myanmar, including working groups, a public awareness campaign in the states and regions, and TV programs on the subject. There will also be a “Forever White Ribbon” singing contest, and flash mobs.

It is hoped the singing contest will engage a wide audience, as it will be broadcast on television. The competition itself will be held at Shwe Htut Tin grounds in Yangon’s Tarmwe township on December 10, and the winner will take home K5 million.

“This program’s aim is to spread the message that violence against women is not acceptable, and to raise awareness for society that everyone must combat this violence,” said Daw Kaythi Myit Thein, coordinator of the working group and program manager at the Gender Equality Network.

The public awareness flash mobs will be held throughout the 16-day event, with one key message to be delivered each day in a different public area.

“In trying to raise awareness it can be hard to see results immediately. Now society sees violence against women as a problem. Society demanding punishment for the violence is a result of women’s groups’ continuous efforts,” said Daw May Sabai Phyu, a women’s rights activist and director of the Gender Equality Network.

“There is still so much work to do,” she added.

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Part of the program will address the importance of engaging men in the struggle against gender-based violence.

“They need to be aware of violence against women – that’s the best way to combat the issue,” said Daw Kaythi Myit Thein.

Gender equality advocates, academics and celebrities will also hold a series of 16 discussion panels, with screenings taking place from November 22 to December 10 on Myanmar Cable News at 11:15am each day.

Women’s rights groups are also lobbying the parliament to enact legislation safeguarding women against physical, mental and finance abuse. The Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement began working on the Anti-Violence Against Women Law in 2012.

Myanmar is one of only two countries in the region lacking a specific law criminalising domestic violence.