In 2019, Banyan Global gender specialists based in Ethiopia and Madagascar commemorated the 16 days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) from November 25 to December 10. The 16 Days of Activism Against GBV is an international campaign that seeks to highlight the everyday challenges faced by women and girls who experience acts of violence against them. Each year, the campaign introduces a new theme that focuses on one particular area of gender inequality and works to bring attention to the area and make changes that will have an impact. The 2019 theme was: “Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands against Rape!”
In Ethiopia, Banyan Global’s team of five gender specialists on the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Feed the Future Ethiopia Value Chain Activity commemorated the days in offices in Addis Ababa and four regions by organizing discussion sessions on December 2, December 5, and December 10 (International Human Rights Day). Staff presented two short videos to raise awareness about sexual harassment and how it affects women in the workplace and at home. Participants raised different issues based on the videos; for example, some men were surprised by women’s reactions to GBV and expressed that it seemed unrealistic, but some women said the videos reflected their everyday experiences and that these experiences made them very uncomfortable.
Following the discussion, the staff agreed that the best way forward was to be aware of different types of harassment and to understand the extent of GBV. They also agreed not to ignore harassment and violence against women when they saw it. The discussion also served as a refresher training for staff following their mandatory sexual harassment in the workplace course, and reminded team members of the confidential reporting mechanisms in place to report instances of GBV and harassment in the workplace. At the end of the discussion, the participants said that the discussion around violence against women was very important and that they found it useful.
In partnership with Madagascar’s Ministry of Population, Social Protection, and Woman’s Promotion, the USAID-funded Improving Market Partnerships and Access to Commodities Together (IMPACT) program in Madagascar actively contributed to the 16 Days of Activism throughout the month of December. The Ministry and the First Lady of Madagascar launched a GBV awareness-raising campaign with the inauguration of two new health centers for victims of GBV in two neighborhoods in the capital city, Antananarivo. IMPACT provided in-kind donations of mosquito nets and water purifiers to both health centers.
On December 6, 2019, IMPACT team members attended a roundtable discussion organized by the Ministry of Population and UNFPA to coordinate activism against GBV with different stakeholders working on gender equality and social inclusion. On December 13, IMPACT conducted a training session with 45 journalists and communications officers from the police department on equality of access to health commodities. The training included examples of how gender equality issues are related to family planning and maternal and child health to increase journalists’ awareness on their roles as educators and communicators to the general population. This training was conducted jointly with leading gender partners such as UNFPA and other USAID-funded programs. During the two events, IMPACT shared 150 brochures containing the key findings from the gender equality and social inclusion analysis conducted at the beginning of the project.
To further educate and reach an even wider audience, IMPACT also published articles focused on GBV, women’s access to finance, and the relationship between gender and health every Saturday in December in three newspapers. Appearing in Midi Madagascar, Express de Madagascar, and Les Nouvelles, the articles served to raise the public’s awareness about GBV – what it is, how to recognize it, and its prevalence in Madgascar. The articles also explained how GBV negatively impacts women’s economic empowerment by affecting women’s experience in the workplace and how GBV affects their access to and control over resources. The articles also discussed how GBV affects women’s health, particularly when it comes to family planning and access to health commodities like contraception.