the 16 days began on november 24th with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and to mark the day, i got to go to the american ambassador to kenya’s residence for nibblies, drinks served by servers dressed in white balancing glasses on trays, and singing and poetry by local women.
it was nice to meet people who my professional path has crossed and to be greeted warmly and describe what i am doing to counter violence against women. and to hear what women are doing and have been doing for years, it was pretty inspiring. a friend of mine just set up the first national steering committee to eliminate female genital mutilation and another is volunteering in one of the slums with a school and has done for a year. another is the director of a women’s organisation that has been running for 55 years here. others are funding such projects and some were older women who have been in this fight a long time and are exactly like african mothers, taking on the challenges of their community and never complaining and taking it all in stride. others were young women and girls who came in their school uniforms and are already leaders in their own right. and of course, the men who support women and fight for the same equality and equity that women are fighting for all over the world. you cannot achieve gender equity with only one gender and it is compelling to see men who are as engaged in the efforts as women.
there are 16 days. (more like 14 now because i am a bit late in posting this.) 16 days to do something. be active. there are global calamities affecting women like female genital mutilation and trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation, which are clearly not going to be stopped during our 16 days nor are any of us going to do it alone. and those of us from the global north living in developed countries won’t encounter such types of violence against women, but even canada has a long ways to go to stop all forms of violence against women. you have 16 days to talk about it. to encourage a young women to go to school, to study what they want, to work where they want, to play sports, to laugh, to play, to excel and to achieve. to build resiliency. to offer your support to a shelter or assistance programme for disadvantaged women. to speak out about rape. to talk about safe sex and choices. to teach women and girls about their rights. to teach men and boys about their responsibilities. just act.
16 days of activism to eliminate violence against women