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23 Jan 2014
By Komila Rakhimova -
Putting gender-based violence on the national agenda is of paramount concern for Uzbekistan, as there are few statistics on this issue and services for victims are scarce.
The subject of violence against women is taboo not only in society, but also in policy discussions by the nation’s leaders.
Across Uzbekistan, only a few shelters and non-governmental organizations, some unofficially, provide services for women and children who have been victims of violence.
That’s why we used the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women as an opportunity to get the word out about this subject. The global day is designed to do just that: Get people thinking and talking about an issue that is often unspoken of in day-to-day life.
UNDP collaborated with national partners on activities for the annual joint United Nations 16 Days of Activism campaign, From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World, which ran from 25 November to 10 December.
Campaign activities, including interactive games and quizzes, took place across all 14 regions of the country. Sports associations also played a large role in this year’s campaign by providing demonstrations of self-defence techniques.
We also updated our information booklet, which contains contact information for organizations that provide legal, social and psychological support to women in difficult situations.
For our staff, we developed a set of infographics in Russian and English. A different infographic was sent out daily throughout the 16-day campaign. These infographics used simple graphs and statistics to cover relevant topics, including reasons for getting married, issues that commonly trigger family conflict, types of violence, and support services available to victims.
We purposely chose to focus on Uzbekistan in order to emphasize that gender-based violence is not some foreign experience, but something that is happening in our own families.
The infographics include information on organizations that provide services to victims of violence, such as shelters, women’s centres, and ombuds offices, and quotes from colleagues providing their opinions on issues of gender-based violence.
To get everyone thinking about this important issue, colleagues were also invited to participate in discussions on the Staff Association Council board where we posted questions such as “What are the effects of domestic violence on children?” and “Should society intervene in cases of domestic violence? If so, to what extent?”
A lot of effort was put into both internal and external activities to mark the 2013 16 Days of Activism.But how do we measure the effect we had?
Will the number of attendees at events or number of Facebook ‘likes’ tell us? I don’t think so.
When it comes to changes in perceptions and values, numbers don’t tell the whole story, and it often takes a long time to see evidence of change.
In this case, softer indicators, such as staff reactions to the campaign and the frequency of gender issues coming up in both unofficial and official discussions can give us some idea about the effect the 16 Days of Activism have had on people’s perceptions of gender-based violence.
Following our activities this year, we received a great deal of positive feedback from staff members and started some important debates among colleagues. In the majority of our discussions, whether in weekly programme meetings, year-end reporting, or simply at lunch, gender topics now pop up frequently – and most importantly, these issues are often raised not by gender team members, but by other colleagues who have become interested in the topic following the ‘16 Days of Activism’ campaign.
What are your ideas for getting people to talk about taboo subjects – in the office and with the public? We’d love to hear your ideas!