16 days of activism this November and early December here at Shpresa Programme to mark the UN’s 16 days of activism against gender-based violence
November 25 2021 marked the start of the UN’s 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence. And from this day Shpresa run 16 different activities joining their fragile voices with those of millions of people across the globe. The world went orange on 25th November and will do so every 25th as part of the INiTE campaign, which resonates deeply with our Empower Women’s work
This campaign has proclaimed the 25th of each month as “Orange Day”, a day to raise awareness and take action to end violence against women and girls. As a bright and optimistic colour, orange represents a future free from violence against women and girls.
Orange Day calls upon activists, governments, and UN partners to mobilize people and highlight issues relevant to preventing and ending violence against women and girls, not only once a year, on 25 November (the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women), but every month.
On the 25th day of every month, Say NO–UNiTE mobilizes people around the world to support the #OrangeDay initiative. It calls on people everywhere to wear the colour orange and take action to end violence against women and girls in every community, at home, in public spaces, in schools and workplaces, during conflict and in times of peace.
This is what happens at Shpresa during these 16 days
25th – Information About UNiTE campaign
26th – Poetry -ZOOM reciting for women by young people
27th – Gascoigne school “ inspiration session” for women
28th – Women talks – the culture must never be used as a justification for the DV
29th – Healthy relationships champions – Quiz night
30th – Inspiring London women – women session
1st – Knitting our stories -the start of a really good initiative
2nd – DV violence at its impact
3rd – UN agenda on ending the DV by 2030
4th – How we can break the circle – talk with young people
5th – Mental health and DV awareness
6th -Inspiring women London – young people session
7th – quiz time – using “spiralling toolkit”
8th – services about DV – Information on signs and where to seek help
9th – DV and its impact and where to seek help – information session
10th – Celebrities touched by DV – workshops
During this period, we wanted to put a spotlight on survivors, activists, history and organisations who offer support here in the UK to individuals, communities and their challenges, we wanted our voices to join with many other voices around the world who are using creative forms of resistance to campaign against gender-based violence. In 2015, nations came together and committed to achieving the Global Goals by 2030.
COVID-19 has shed a light on existing gender inequalities and has also seen a sharp increase in violence against women and girl’s, especially domestic abuse. But despite the pandemic, activists around the world have been continuing their efforts towards making gender equality a reality for everyone, everywhere.
For us here at Shpresa this is not a 1 day or 16 days job, this is an everyday job, and we believe that this is everyone’s responsibility. One in three women worldwide experiences physical or sexual violence, mostly by an intimate partner. Violence against women and girls is a human rights violation, and the immediate and long-term physical, sexual, and mental consequences for women and girls can be devastating, including death. And in our community, this is even a bigger problem every other woman face it
Our empower women project addresses issues faced by Albanian-speaking women (ASW) living in the UK, who are disproportionately at risk of trafficking and domestic violence – the number of ASW reported as potential adult victims of trafficking is consistently multitudes higher than that of adults of any other nationality (National Referral Mechanism stats – e.g. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/modern-slavery-national-referral-mechanism-and-duty-to-notify-statistics-uk-quarter-3-2020-july-to-september/modern-slavery-national-referral-mechanism-and-duty-to-notify-statistics-uk-quarter-3-2020-july-to-september).
These face multiple challenges which put them disproportionately at risk of domestic violence:
– Language barriers: women in the UK who speak no English are vulnerable to control and frequently cannot access mainstream support
– Social isolation, shame & stigma: in Albanian speaking communities, violence against women has long been seen as acceptable and speaking out against violence is seen to bring shame on the family and the community. Mental ill-health is also heavily stigmatised, meaning ASW feel unable to seek help for their problems
– Insecure immigration status: the threat of deportation is used to manipulate women who are frequently unaware of their legal rights and unable or fearful to seek help
– Poverty: women living in poverty (especially through financial abuse) lack options and are vulnerable to domestic violence
– Lack of services: services for women from new migrant communities are extremely limited and rarely meet the language/cultural needs of ASW
These problems, identified in the research, are reflected in our work (we undertake regular monitoring & evaluation to seek service user feedback and assess personal & organisational progress towards outcomes) – this shows that many challenges have intensified due to COVID-19 and related restrictions (re-traumatisation, PTSD, increased isolation etc).
Shpresa models is an organisational culture that builds in peer support partnerships and networking – we know that maximising our networks is the best way to ensure sustainability for ourselves and the whole sector, so we are keen to engage with this capacity building programme.
Our project includes training volunteers to support women, so increases Shpresa’s capacity to provide support going forward.
We have a strong track record of securing funding to support our work. A grant from the MOPAC VAWG Fund, Barking council, Henry Smith has given us stability through this turbulent time, ensuring that our key services for vulnerable women will continue and enabling Shpresa staff to devote time to other operational functions including long-term financial and service planning, building on existing networks and reaching out to create new ones, improving our sustainability and resilience.
COVID-19 has seen an acute increase in people needing support for mental health – lockdowns and isolation have meant people have more time to reflect on their experiences and need help in processing them, which combines with COVID-related anxiety to create a surge in mental ill-health. For those with experiences of trauma, re-traumatisation is an issue. The ASC is disproportionately affected by economic impacts – Shpresa has been delivering a significant emergency supplies operation since March, providing food, essential household supplies, and means for people to stay connected (data, devices, phone credit). Young people have needed additional help – especially unaccompanied asylum-seeking children – who tend to have limited or no access to internet-enabled devices and many of whom rely on school for at least one meal daily. This increase in demand across our services has meant we have had to sink capacity into both meeting these immediate needs and finding resources & funding to support them.
We anticipated and witnessed increased stress linked to economic damage, and experiences of sickness and bereavement which mean a substantial ‘tail’ of raised levels of need in the coming 2 or 3 years, including, inevitably, raised levels of violence against women and girls.
We are offering through this project
We are running women’s support
Stratford library every Saturday 2-5
Mansfield house evry Friday 10-12
Zoom every Thirsday 1-3
In January starting a befriending service woman for women
121 counselling with The alternative, Manor gardens and Croydon drop in
Psychoeducation groups every Thursday 10:00-12:00
Working in partnership with NALS to offer accredited English, IT, TA
Barking and Dagenham
We are running women’s support
Gascoigne primary school 10:00-13:00
Walk talk watch every Tuesday 10:00 -12
Zoom every Thursday 10-12
121 counselling with The alternative
Psychoeducation groups every Thursday 10:00-12:00
In January we are starting triple PPP again
Our Albanian school and youth project taking places every day of the week addresses these at their session too
In April 2020, the United Nations Secretary-General urged all governments decided to make the prevention and redress of violence against women and girls a key part of their national response plans for COVID-19. The appeal was answered in a statement by 146 Member States and Observers who expressed strong support.
As a follow up to the Secretary-General’s call, the Secretary-General’s Executive Committee also adopted a “Political engagement strategy” for the entire UN system to mobilize commitments and action to end gender-based violence in the context of COVID-19.
The efforts will aim to:
- Accelerate concrete policy responses to gender-based violence in the context of COVID-19 and
- Promote zero tolerance of gender-based violence across all spheres of society everywhere.
All governments are called to make commitments and undertake policy actions around four key action areas:
More details can be found in the UNiTE Campaign’s bimonthly action circulars:
- October/November 2021 (Theme: 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence)
- August/September 2021 (Theme: Collect)
- June/July 2021 (Theme: Respond)
- April/May 2021 (Theme: Prevent)
- February/March 2021 (Theme: Fund)
So, every one of us can play their part
As mothers, we have a lot of power, and we can use that at the individual level to break that circle
As community, we have more power to help everyone and watch for each other, raise our voices, be part of the change we want to see
Our local authorities and government have the power to help, introduce policies, fund, prevent respond and collect
Let’s all play our part for a world free of gender violence
This is a fight beyond our community, so The Join Say NO–UNiTE on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up to get email alerts, to become part of a global network of people committed to realizing a future that is free from violence against women and girls.