To celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March and raise awareness of the importance of gender equality, we held an event in Nyansurura in collaboration with the local Serengeti District government. Five girls staying at our safe house in Mugumu were presented with sewing machines at the event. These girls are in our vocational training programme and will use the machines as part of their training. After they complete their training and are safely able to return home, the girls will take their sewing machines with them.
The annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign originated out of the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991 at Rutgers University in the United States. One initial goal of this campaign was to emphasize that violence against women is a violation of human rights. This point seems obvious today, but was a matter of contention at the time.
The American feminist and founding director of the Center for Global Leadership at Rutgers, Charlotte Bunch, argued in 1990 that, ‘despite a clear record of deaths and demonstrable abuse, women’s rights are not commonly classified as human rights… The narrow definition of human rights, recognized by many in the West as solely a matter of state violation of civil and political liberties, impedes consideration of women’s rights’. The two-week long institute and its campaign against gender-based violence sent a powerful message that issues such as rape, female infanticide, genital mutilation, compulsory sterilization, forced marriage, and discrimination against girls are violations of human rights.
To celebrate 16 Days of Activism in December 2017, we officially opened our safe house in the village of Kiabakari in the Butiama District and organized a march against gender-based violence. Girls from the new Butiama safe house and students from Kukirango Secondary School marched together to raise community awareness.