Ending violence against women is everyone’s business.
As we mark the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence campaign WAA Cameroon is joining hands with survivors, activists, decision-makers, and Civil Society Organisations, UN Women and people from every walk of life, to shine a light on the need to protect women from violence.
Ending violence against women is everyone’s business.
Here are just nine ways you can make a difference, safely and impactfully.
1. Listen to and believe survivors
When a woman shares her story of violence, she takes the first step to breaking the cycle of abuse. It’s on all of us to give her the safe space she needs to speak up and be heard. It’s important to remember that when discussing cases of sexual violence, a victim’s sobriety, clothes, and sexuality are irrelevant.
The perpetrator is the sole reason for assault and must bear the responsibility alone. Call out victim-blaming and counter the idea that it’s on women to avoid situations that might be seen as “dangerous” by traditional standards. Survivors of violence are speaking out more than ever before, and everyone has a role to play to ensure they can have justice.
Don’t say, “Why didn’t she leave?”
Do say: “We hear you. We believe you. We stand with you.”
2. Teach the next generation and learn from them
The examples we set for the younger generation shape the way they think about gender, respect and human rights. Start conversations about gender roles early on, and challenge the traditional features and characteristics assigned to men and women. Point out the stereotypes that children constantly encounter, whether in the media, on the street or at the school, and let them know that it’s OK to be different. Encourage a culture of acceptance.
Talk about consent, bodily autonomy and accountability to boys and girls, and also listen to what they have to say about their experience of the world. By empowering young advocates with information, and educating them about women’s rights, we can build a better future for all.
"I join the "Orange World Campaign " to galvanise for a free world for women and girls to fly their dreams."🧡 Alemnji Fogap Eballe Bapi
3. Call for responses and services fit for purpose
Services for survivors are essential services. This means that shelters, hotlines, counseling and all support for survivors of gender-based violence need to be available for those in need. Every year, the 16 Days of Activism campaign calls for united, global action to end all forms of violence against women and girls.
This year the United Nations, together with its partners, are demanding four critical actions, summarized in the 2020 campaign theme: FUND, RESPOND, PREVENT, COLLECT.
Join us in calling on governments to bridge funding gaps to address violence against women and girls, ensure essential services for survivors of violence are maintained during this crisis, implement prevention measures, and invest in collecting the data necessary to adapt and improve life-saving services for women and girls.
4. Understand consent
Freely given, enthusiastic consent is mandatory, every time. Rather than listening for a “no,” make sure there is an active “yes,” from all involved. Adopt enthusiastic consent in your life and talk about it. Phrases like “she was asking for it” or “boys will be boys” attempt to blur the lines around sexual consent, placing blame on victims, and excusing perpetrators from the crimes they have committed. While those that use these lines may have fuzzy understandings of consent, the definition is crystal clear. When it comes to consent, there are no blurred lines.
"Let us make gender equality the new norm. I am generation equality." Kelly Mokake
5. Learn the signs of abuse and how you can help
There are many forms of abuse and all of them can have serious physical and emotional effects. If you’re concerned about a friend who may be experiencing violence or feels unsafe around someone, review these signs and learn about the ways to help them find safety and support.
If you think someone is abusing you, help is available. You are not alone. If you’d like to talk with a trained advocate or psychologist, you can contact WAA Cameroon here.
6. Start a conversation
Violence against women and girls is a human rights violation that’s been perpetuated for decades. It is pervasive, but it is not inevitable, unless we stay silent. Show your solidarity with survivors and where you stand in the fight for women’s rights by "oranging" your social media profile for the 16 Days of Activism
"Sexual gender based violence (SGBV) has become a norm in conflict. Use your voice now for change and denounce SGBV in conflict."Kendemeh Peaceful.
7. Stand against rape culture
Rape culture is the social environment that allows sexual violence to be normalized and justified, fueled by the persistent gender inequalities and attitudes about gender and sexuality. Naming it is the first step to dismantling rape culture.
Every day we have the opportunity to examine our behaviours and beliefs for biases that permit rape culture to continue. Think about how you define masculinity and femininity, and how your own biases and stereotypes influence you. From the attitudes we have about gender identities to the policies we support in our communities, we can all take action to stand against rape culture.
"Stop raping girls and women, their bodies are your crime scenes. Together let's take a responsibility to end violence against women and girls." Eka Claudia.
8. Fund women’s organizations
Donate to local organizations that empower women, amplify their voices, support survivors, and promote acceptance of all gender identities and sexualities.
WAA Cameroon works with other organizations across the country and the Government to end violence against women, assist survivors, and secure equal rights for women and girls everywhere. Donate now at https://www.waacameroon.org/support-us
9. Hold each other accountable
Violence can take many forms, including sexual harassment in the workplace and in public spaces. Take a stand by calling it out when you see it: catcalling, inappropriate sexual comments and sexist jokes are never okay.
Create a safer environment for everyone by challenging your peers to reflect on their own behaviour and speaking up when someone crosses the line, or by enlisting the help of others if you don’t feel safe. As always, listen to survivors and make sure they have the support they need.
"I imagine a world where all people have equal rights and opportunities.
Let's make this a reality!!" Ngwanwi Solange