For far too long, sexual and gender-based violence has been causing immense suffering worldwide – unseen, and unheard. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) tackles this issue as a priority, raising awareness in communities and shining a light on the increased risks to girls, boys, women and men following a natural disaster.
On the launch day of IFRC’s 16 Days campaign, we look at work to prevent sexual and gender-based violence around the world, and showcase National Society programmes that empower local communities at the grassroots level.
For example, case studies conducted by the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, Samoa Red Cross and Myanmar Red Cross as part of IFRC’s Unseen, Unheard project have highlighted education as both a risk factor and a mechanism to prevent gender-based violence, and these findings are now informing humanitarian work in each country.
The Kenya Red Cross’ Community Dialogues initiative involves workshops and training in rural and urban areas of the country, including informal settlements such as that Magarini slums in Malindi and Mathare slums in Nairobi. The aim is to come up with long-term solutions as gaps are identified through community engagement to ensure trained personnel can carry out similar exercises elsewhere with projects and programmes that enable community members to identify risks, intervene safely, and raise their awareness of sexual and gender-based violence.
Botswana Red Cross and UNHCR organized a “Miss Violence-Free” pageant with the message, “your child, my child." This was designed to raise awareness of the risks of sexual and gender-based violence among children and the wider community.
The Gambia Red Cross regularly makes radio presentations to campaign against and raise awareness of sexual and gender-based violence, with a particular focus on sensitization in schools.
“A life without violence is possible” is a programme by the Argentinian Red Cross designed to inform and raise awareness of the problem of gender violence. “Breaking the silence” is another project supported by IFRC that holds support forums where women are able to voice their concerns, share their problems, and speak freely about sexual and gender-based violence. The women participating in the project are also encouraged to act as counsellors to other women.
The Jordanian Red Crescent’s “Building Cross-Sectorial Approach to GBV Work” workshops promote the sexual and gender-based violence prevention work being carried out across the National Society’s programmes and includes an action plan that captures the lessons learned.
"Is not a compliment, it is harassment" is a national campaign by Ecuadorian Red Cross to raise awareness of the problem of verbal street harassment and the suffering it causes. It aims at promoting behaviours that help stop bullying, through participatory activities in public spaces.