end gender based violence


Ezale Swaibu, second from right with his band; Gobiri Liki Jazz Band in Yumbe district, North Western Uganda.

“I used to be a beggar, my wife left because I became blind and I was dragged around by my children begging until I got this vision 4 years ago. I knew I had to take up courage and use my walking stick to move. I cultivated cassava and started keeping rabbits and goats. From zero, I now have 12 cows and I have put up a permanent family house"

I lead the Gobiri Liki Jazz Band, which performs at social events. I compose songs that teach about peace and love to end gender-based violence in this community. Now, I feel more organised. My children go to school, I have a new wife, I enjoy good meals and if there is anything to do in the family, they join me and we work together. ©Jjumba Martin / Oxfam

Earlier today, I met with several students at Addis Ababa University to discuss the opportunities and challenges they face in their academic and professional lives. 

One of the biggest challenges we have here on the Internet is hearing marginalized and underrepresented voices, especially those across the digital divide. You can’t amplify voices online that aren’t online.

While all of the young people I talked to used the Internet and most had regular access via a tablet, smartphone, or laptop, none had blogs or tumblrs or YouTube channels, and none had social network interactions with people outside their IRL social networks. I’m sure there are English-language tumblrs from Ethiopian students (although I haven’t been able to find any today), but almost all voices–even highly educated and privileged ones–from the world’s poorest countries go completely unheard online.

(And when we do hear them, it’s usually through an intermediary: videos edited by someone else, transcripts of interviews, etc. It’s not direct participation in the conversation by, for instance, posting to tumblr or reblogging HIMYM gifs. [The students I spoke to agreed that HIMYM is the best American show they have on TV, although a couple said that watching TV was a waste of time and a distraction from studying, to which I said HAVE YOU SEEN PHINEAS AND FERB BECAUSE IT IS TOTALLY EDUCATIONAL.])

Anyway, all of this is a long preamble to say: Earlier today I met with a 20-year-old law student who helped found an organization in Ethiopia devoted to empowering women and ending gender-based violence. (I’ll include her talking about her work in a video soon.)

The organization does fundraisers so the poorest women at the university can have access to contraception, and every year they have a Blood Drive for Mothers, where many students donate blood to combat maternal death. (Post-partum hemorrhaging is a too-common cause of death among Ethiopian women.)

We often think of global charity as people from rich countries giving money to people from poor countries. But the real story is much more complicated (and much more exciting!); we just don’t hear those stories often, because organizations like the one founded by the young woman I met don’t have YouTube videos or tumblrs.

Children in Iraq could be legally married before the age of nine under newly proposed legislation. Known as the Jaafari law, the legislation introduces new religious restrictions on women and girls. Currently, the legal age for marriage without parental consent is 18, though girls as young as 15 can marry with a guardian’s approval. The draft law also legalizes marital rape.“The passage of the Jaafari law sets the ground for legalised inequality,” says women’s rights activist, Basma al-Khateeb.

Read more via The Telegraph.

Jaha Dukureh, 24, is a survivor of female genital mutilation who grew up in Gambia and now resides in the United States. “Every day I live with the fact that something was taken away from me at a very young age. Not understanding what it would have meant or felt like if I had not gone through FGM is something that will forever haunt me,” she writes. 

Jaha has started a Change.org petition urging the Obama administration and Department of Health and Human Services to commission a report about the number of girls that are impacted as well as the number of girls that are at risk in the United States. Read more in Jaha’s own words.

Bollywood actor and director Farhan Akhtar is a UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador (South Asia) and the founder of MARD (Men Against Rape and Discrimination), a social initiative that engages men to fight for gender equality.

Join Akhtar, ‪#‎WEvolve‬ and the growing community of men and women from around the world working together to end gender-based violence. 

Learn more: www.wevolveglobal.org

The global campaign to end female genital mutilation (FGM) found an unlikely champion in Sheikh Mohamed Saeed, a 74-year-old community leader in Sudan’s Wad Sharefai Refugee Camp. He had long witnessed the suffering of girls and women in his community but thought little of it until he was selected to attend a training on FGM supported by UNFPA.

“After the trainings and the information I got exposed to, and the tough discussions we had through the course of all this, I said to myself, how can a man be a leader without taking such a challenge and fighting for positive change?” Mr. Saeed said. 

He is now a passionate advocate to end FGM and speaks out against it at the camp, mosque and social gatherings. Nicknamed “champion of the camp,” Mr. Saeed has also set up a men’s network, through which he and other male leaders advocate ending FGM. 

Read more via UNFPA.