International Women’s Day 2019
We asked our core team, Steering Committee and Prevention Mentors how they would mark International Women’s Day on 8th March this year. Here are some of the responses:
On IWD, in the morning, I will be co-facilitating a gender training in Beirut, Lebanon with Lyndsay McLean, also of the Prevention Collaborative. We are delivering the training in Arabic and English to the staff of an organisation working on youth empowerment, violence prevention and stabilisation in Lebanon and the Palestinian camps in Lebanon. In the afternoon, I will fly to Copenhagen to speak that evening at a big IWD event on “Fight the myths about gender”.
Here in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan I will present a session on GBV prevention at the UN’s IWD Celebration event “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change”. The audience includes UN staff and youth volunteers – male and female Kyrgyz university students who are learning how to take action on gender equality.
I will be working in solidarity with my Nicaraguan sisters in the hope that we will be able to march in the streets on March 8th, as we have done every year for decades. However, as part of the violent crackdown by the Nicaraguan government all public mobilizations or demonstrations have been prohibited unless they receive formal authorization from the National Police. The internal and international pressure on the government continues to mount. If the Nicaraguan people are able to march peacefully on March 8th and not get shot at or arbitrarily detained, it would be a truly historic celebration of IWD in Nicaragua.
Daniel Costa Lima
In Brazil this year carnival will take place the same week as IWD. In the face of a newly elected extreme right-wing government and a huge backlash on fundamental rights, many people say they can’t find a reason to take to the streets and party. Yet many carnival groups (blocos) and their followers that parade through Recife and Olinda are standing in solidarity with women and LGBTI people to call for an end to VAW, LGBTIphobia, racism and fascism. I’ll be there with them, protesting and also having fun (to maintain our mental health!). On the 8th, a large march organized by the Women’s Forum of Pernambuco will take place in Recife and I’ll either be there with my partner and our toddler or I’ll be at home with our toddler so that my partner can occupy the streets with her sisters.
On IWD, my fellow Prevention Collaborative colleague Suhail and I will be working together in Beirut to deliver gender training to the staff of an organisation doing programmes on youth empowerment, violence prevention and stabilisation in Lebanon and the Palestinian camps in Lebanon. In the evening, I will meet a Lebanese friend who has been active here in promoting women’s rights to find out more about her current work with women’s rights organisations..
With friends, we will again mark IWD this year by holding a private function for women called a Guntiina session. Guntiina is the traditional Somali dress – a wraparound that hangs from one shoulder – no longer worn because women either wear ‘modern’ clothes or the burka. During this session, we literally teach each other how to tie the wrap around in a bid to revive this sexy dress and keep the tradition alive. In the Guntiina session lots of topics are discussed but the main idea is SELF LOVE. It is meant to be a safe space for women in a community which is very closed, conservative and judgmental. We hope to grow the Guntiina session into a forum where women can gain confidence to deal with their pains, ‘shame’ and guilt and build a sisterhood movement to support each other.
On 8th March, my team in East Timor will be supporting a public seminar and march for gender equality in Dili. Also, the community where our SASA! adaptation is being implemented is having their first ever community event organised by the SASA! community mobilisers. They will be eating together, sharing experiences and discussing how to use power positively and prevent violence against women and children in the community.
On March 6th I will go to a screening of Naila and the Uprising, a documentary about a clandestine network of women that led a non-violent mobilisation for Palestinian rights to self-determination in Gaza. I will then go to Uruguay to support the Early Childhood Development Technical Secretariat to reflect on learning from their pilot parenting program- which aims to promote gender equitable relationships among parents, increase fathers’ participation in domestic and caregiving work, enhance positive parenting skills and prevent violence in the family.
If all things go to plan, on the 8th March this year, I will be on a road trip to Bodrum in Turkey with an old friend and my dog! Women’s mobility is important and something that can often be taken for granted; yet many women face multiple constraints on their mobility both due to restrictions from family members and safety concerns.
This year IWD will be simple for me – reflecting on motherhood and friendship. IWD falls on a Friday this year which means that I’ll take the day off and spend it with my 4 year old daughter. We’ll do some chores, see some friends and then in the evening I’ll go to a IWD celebration organised by a women’s NGO in Copenhagen, featuring performance poets, musicians, a female racing driver and fellow Prevention Collaborative mentor Suhail Abualsameed.
On IWD I am celebrating working with like-minded women committed to ending violence against women and girls. In our organisation, the Prevention Collaborative, we are a virtually connected team, linking up to form a network of researchers, practitioners and activists sharing our ideas and expertise. We don’t have an office or fixed working hours. We work this way because we want to define a flexible way of working that works for our families and our professional selves. But not every working woman has this freedom. We cannot be complacent. We must continue to work until these choices are available to everyone.
For IWD I will be in Lima, Peru, working for UNDP. I have been asked to provide technical support to a project piloting a participatory planning approach to localize their national GBV action plan in Villa el Salvador district of Peru. This is a district with one of the highest rates of poverty and GBV in Peru, as well as the lowest budgets and resources for citizen security. There is a critical lack of public spaces and GBV response services. On the other hand, Villa El Salvador has a strong and active history of participatory, citizen planning.