16 Days of Activism 2013 Concept Note

16 Days of Activism 2013 Concept Note

Date: November 19, 2013
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This concept paper concerns 2013 Sixteen Days of Activism campaign. Every year the United Nations declares the period from the 25 November, International Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women, to the 10 December, International Human Rights Day, as the 16 Days of No Violence Against Women across the globe. Gender Links (GL) and partner organisations will implement the Sixteen Days of Activism 2013 under the banner Peace begins at home.

The concept covers the following:

Background and context

Despite the many democratic advances in a region historically wracked by the violence of white  minority rule and various civil wars, gender violence remains one of the most flagrant violations of human rights and impediments to equality between women and men in Southern Africa. The SADC Protocol on Gender and Development adopted by SADC Heads of State in August 2008, following a civil society campaign spearheaded by GL and partners, sets a target for the SADC region to halve GBV by 2015.

Over the last decade, GL has worked with government and civil society partners in popularising the Sixteen Days of Activism to End Gender Violence that is now a formidable and well recognised regional campaign. GL has, in this process, developed a unique on-the-job strategic communications training programme for civil society partners as well as training for journalists in covering gender violence. The campaigns led to demands for more sustained programmatic interventions. In line with the UN Secretary General’s call for all nations to develop multi-sector, multi-stakeholder action plans for ending gender violence, GL has À“ with the support of the UN Trust Fund – worked with nine governments in the region to develop 365 Day National Action Plans to End Gender Violence.

Such plans and the challenges of measuring gender violence in all its guises À“ physical, sexual, emotional, verbal and economic – prompted calls for a comprehensive package of indicators to establish baselines and track progress in reducing and eventually ending GBV. Over the last two years, GL has successfully piloted a comprehensive set of indicators for measuring gender violence in the most populous Gauteng province of South Africa that involves a prevalence survey, better use of administrative data, media and discourse analysis, and qualitative tools.

Concurrently, GL has been working at the local level in ten Southern African countries, including these three, to develop gender action plans at the local level with flagship projects to end gender violence. Support is being given at individual council level through the Centres of Excellence initiative that involves bringing together research, policy and practice in a unique on-the-job capacity building project that is continuously monitored for its impact.   Best practices are gathered and shared at the annual Gender Justice and Local Government Summit. GL is also working with 100 media Centres of Excellence in ten Southern African countries, including Botswana, South Africa and Mauritius, to develop and implement gender policies through more gender aware coverage.

Southern Africa is a region with a history of political violence and high levels of gender inequality reflected in the equally high levels of gender violence in the fifteen countries of the region. It is estimated that one in three women have experienced violence of some kind, whether physical, sexual, economic or emotional. Certain categories of women, for example poor women; migrant women; rural women and sex workers are especially susceptible to violation.   Due to family and societal pressure, it is estimated that only one in nine cases of GBV are reported. Many of the cases that are lodged with the police get withdrawn. Only 7% of cases result in conviction.

While country contexts differ, GBV is a concern in all Southern African countries. GBV is a key priority for gender activists in the SADC region. The diagram illustrates the various responses, from international to local level.   At the international level, the UN Secretary General’s UNite campaign has given muscle to regional efforts, including the campaign for the implementation of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development that calls for a halving of GBV by 2015.   Activists have put the Sixteen Days of Activism campaign that runs from 25 November to 10 December each year on the political agenda. And they have spearheaded the campaign to stretch the Sixteen Days to 365 through sustained National Action Plans (NAPS) to end GBV.

Articles 20 to 25 The SADC Protocol on Gender and Development require organisations, communities and state entities to adopt strategies and targets to address the high levels of GBV in the Southern African region with a target of halving GBV by 2015.   One of the provisions is to develop comprehensive multi sectoral national action plans in all SADC countries. GL has worked with governments, civil society and other stakeholders to develop NAPs in ten countries.

The major challenge in all countries is that plans that have been developed have remained national policy documents without filtering to other levels, particularly communities.   Until the piloting of the GBV indicators project, these plans also lacked effective ways of establishing baseline data and tracking progress. And the plans have tended to place a heavy emphasis on response and support, rather than prevention. Such strategies also tend to view women as hopeless victims, rather than survivors who have agency, hopes and aspirations.

At the local level the 16 Days creates a concrete link between national policy initiatives and the practical implementation of strategies to address GBV in communities. The project builds on several years’ work on gender and local government to challenge the prevailing assumption that GBV is not a local level competence. It demands gender responsive governance at all levels in challenging the most flagrant human rights violation in the region.

At a practical level many of the conditions that cause women to be unsafe such as poor lighting, lack of security in public spaces, naming streets, lack of basic services: water, electricity and sanitation are controlled by local government. At a systemic level local government is best placed to make the environment safe and secure for women. GL will work with local councils to ensure that these practical needs are met.

The successful implementation of action plans requires a combination of awareness raising and community mobilisation to advocate and lobby for these. The local strategic communications plans will influence the national plan. The voices and views of women particularly from communication must be shape all strategic communications.

Finally, through adapting the indicators methodology to establish detailed baselines on attitudes and all forms of violence at community level, and measuring change over the three year period, GL will demonstrate that the fight against GBV can be won, through targeted, concerted prevention campaigns that seek to reclaim our society, community by community.

GL’s Sixteen Days 2013 campaign will have five main thrusts:

1. Getting to the heart of the matter

  • Produce gender attitudes profile for the councils running the GBV and entrepreneurship training.
  • Discuss the results to advocacy and awareness raising strategies.
  • Administer the attitudes surveys in the councils rolling out the GBV and entrepreneurship training in 2014.

2. Training GBV survivors to participate in the online chats or cyber dialogues

  • Train GBV survivors in the using the cyber dialogues to share their experiences.
  • GBV survivors’ will contribute to strategic interventions to address GBV.

3. Winning the war on GBV community by community

  • GL will conduct training of trainers in local government COEs in ten country to plan their review their GBV action plans, plan their 16 Days campaigns and cyber dialogues.
  • Councils will review their local GBV action plans during the 16 days campaign to assess progress and prioritise for the year ahead.
  • Conduct advocacy during the campaign to popularise the plans.

4. Revitalise national levels responses to GBV

  • Work with national governments in six countries to review progress on the NAPs.
  • To ensure that the NAPs address  the findings of the violence against women baseline studies in those countries.

5. Raising awareness and creating public dialogue on GBV

  • Training media practitioners and media students on the gender sensitive coverage of GBV.
  • Raising awareness on the violence against women baseline  research findings.
  • Producing opinion and commentary pieces.
  • Publish the ‘I’ Stories in an E-book that for publication in the media and other outlets.

Findings of the GBV indicators research

GBV, particularly violence against women, continues to be one of the most common and serious human rights violations occurring across the globe. The most predominant form of GBV experienced by women and perpetrated by men in six countries where GL has conducted violence against women baseline research, occurs within intimate partnerships. This ranges from 90% for women’s experience of intimate partner violence (IPV) in the Zambian districts surveyed to 23% in Mauritius. In all six countries, the most common form of IPV is emotional violence, a form of violence rarely addressed in police statistics.

The consequences of GBV are far-reaching, limiting women’s human rights and affecting their ability claim their rights as citizens. The cycle of GBV often means that violence continues from one generation to the next, this has serious consequences on economic development and stability within families.

As illustrated in the diagram, in line with the GL’s Theory of Change (ToC) a prerequisite for a prosperous and equal society is women’s increased participation in decision making, the project’s goal is build women’s agency, independence and equality. This will ultimately empower women to break the cycle of violence and participate fully as citizens.

GL Sixteen Days 2013 campaign models

The primary focus of this year’s 16 Days of Activism Campaign is to ensure that the GL local government and media Centres of Excellence (COEs) are central to efforts to address GBV.

Local government is the tier of government closest to the people and very present at community level. Efforts in 2013 will be put into including communities within various localities to participate in campaigns. An important focus is to enable media practitioners from private and public sector and media students to cover GBV in a sensitive manner. The media will partner with communities and local councils to popularise the 16 Days campaign effectively.  The media practitioners will produce print, audio and audio visual pieces on GBV.

Diagrammatic representation of the 16 Days 2013

In line with GL’s theory of change the activities during the 16 Days campaign will target four spheres of influence. These include the individual, close relations, the community and public. The holistic approach will impact on attitude and behaviour.


  • To use the findings of the GBV Indicators research effectively.
  • To create an awareness campaign on the GBV Indicators research findings.
  • To strengthen local government capacity to address GBV to promote the principle of zero tolerance to GBV in communities.
  • To train GBV survivors on the cyber dialogues.
  • To train media practitioners in the GL media COEs and in institutions of higher learning offering journalism and media education and training on sensitive coverage of GBV.
  • To raise awareness on GBV in institutions of higher learning and schools.
  • To create smart partnerships in each country to extend the reach and scope of the 16 Days campaign to promote the prevention GBV in multiple sites in every country.


The Sixteen Days of Activism campaign runs from the 25 November to the 10 December 2012. The key dates to note during the campaign are:

  • 25 November: International Day of no Violence Against Women
  • 1 December: World AIDS Day
  • 3 December: International Day for the Disabled
  • 6 December: Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre- where 14 female engineering students were gunned down by a man because they were allegedly feminist.
  • 10 December: Human Rights Day


GL will work with the national governments, GL local government and media COEs, GEM networks and institutions of higher learning to implement the 2013 Sixteen Days of Activism campaign. A 16 Days planning meeting with the GEM networks and institutions of higher learning took place in July 2013. Since this meeting teleconferences have occurred with all GL country offices. These will be followed by in country planning sessions that bring together the GL country managers, GL media COE facilitators, GEM networks and institutions of higher learning.

Please see Annex A for a list of partners in the campaign,

Key focus areas

  • SADC Protocol on gender and development Taking stock: The SADC Protocol is a road map to achieve gender equality in the SADC region. There are 28 targets relating to different areas in the protocol and the target for GBV is to halve gender based violence by 2015. This theme examines how much progress countries have made in the last year against the plans that have been adopted and the GBV targets in the SADC Gender and Development Protocol.
  • Using the GBV Indicators research findings to strengthen the NAPs. Strengthen the NAPs using the research findings. Lobby other countries to conduct baseline research to establish the prevalence and attitudes towards GBV.
  • Think global, act local – local GBV action plans: Local government plays a very crucial role in ensuring that issues of GBV are addressed at community level, as this is the level where most GBV occurs. This theme seeks to bring municipal councils and the communities they serve to work together on 16 Days activities that are specific to their contexts and needs, therefore ensuring that councils become Centres of Excellence for Gender Mainstreaming in Local Government, councils where gender is not only mainstreamed institutionally, but also within the community that they service.
  • Local government needs to be an integral part of delivering the NAP at community level. The NAPs need to be localised. As such there will be a focus on actions at local government level through the Gender Links Centres of Excellence for Gender Mainstreaming in Local Government that are currently being rolled out across the SADC region. Gender Links wishes to extend the 16 Days of Activism beyond big cities and towns to reach communities in more remote areas that are usually marginalised and left out of such campaigns and this will form one of the organisations’ key indicators of success.
  • Through the “IÀ stories   E-book  GL will continue its mission to make every voice count by ensuring that the voices of GBV survivors are central to strategies to address GBV.  “IÀ stories EBook with stories from the participants of GL entrepreneurship project. The project tests the hypothesis that being economically independent is an important driver that will assist GBV survivors to leave and stay out of abusive relationships.
  • The role of media in ending gender based violence will come under spotlight during the campaign. Media practitioners will be trained on the sensitive coverage of GBV.
  • A key sub theme will be “Making IT work 4 gender justiceÀ. The latest accessible information technology including online chats, Facebook and twitter will be used to ensure that all stakeholders remain linked up across geographical boundaries throughout the campaign. GL will send SMSs throughout the region with announcements and updates for each day’s activities and themes. GL will run cyber dialogues or online thematic chat throughout the 16 Days. See Annex B for cyber dialogues instructions.

Activities for 2013

Cross cutting activities

  • Taking stock of the NAPs in Botswana, Mauritius, South Africa, Lesotho, Zambia and Zimbabwe: To review the existing NAPs, assess progress and strengthen the plan using the findings of the GBV Indicators research.
  • Training of trainers: Prior to the 16 Days campaign there will be a training of trainers for LG COEs in ten countries to plan their 16 Days campaigns and cyber dialogues.
  • IT for advocacy training: During the 16 Days campaign there will be IT advocacy training for GBV survivors and women entrepreneurs in 100 councils followed by cyber dialogues during the 16 Days of Activism in 14 countries.
  • Media debates and training on covering GBV: Media practitioners in public and private media houses will be trained on sensitive coverage of GBV and how coverage may be improved. This will happen event will be held through most of the countries through the gender and media networks that have been established over the years.
  • Thematic face to face discussions and cyber dialogues: Language rooms, i.e. cyber dialogues in languages that are similar across countries, e.g. linking councils across the country.
  • Taking stock of local action plans to end GBV: Measuring progress since the last 16 Days campaign. How are local councils performing in relation to their own plans and the GBV targets in the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development? The audit will guide future work aimed at addressing GBV.
  • “IÀ stories E-book: Compile first-hand accounts of women’s experiences of GBV from 50 councils.
  • Take back the night marches: It is a woman’s human right to enjoy freedom of movement. Threats to a women’s safety are a violation of her human rights. These marches are a symbolic way of reclaiming unsafe spaces. This year these marches will take place simultaneously across SADC mainly in local councils again taking this activity away from big cities.
  • GBV and religion: Faith Based Organisations remain an important ally in addressing gender based violence. Through the Southern Africa Gender Protocol Alliance partnerships, GL will encourage that religious institutions observe the 16 Days by addressing the issue of GBV in their congregations.
  • Opinion and commentary service: A special series of articles will be produced during 16 Days will be produced focussing on the theme of the day.
  • Mail shots: Daily mail shots to inform people of activities and how and when they can participate.
  • GL staff diaries documenting their views and experiences of the 16 Days.

Country specific activities



Local councils

GEM networks

Institutions of higher learning

Media COEs




Develop local 16 Days plan

Assess progress on the local GBV action plan

16 Days plan

Cyber dialogues

Assist with council training and 16 Days planning

Train journalists and students from institutions of higher learning on covering GBV with sensitivity and using the principles of good journalism.

Deploy journalists and media students to local councils to cover stories on GBV and 16 day activities.

Cyber dialogues




Assist with council training and 16 Days planning






South Africa



Assist with council training and 16 Days planning

Strategic communications

Cyber dialogues



Strategic communications

Cyber dialogues



Assist with training the media on covering GBV sensitively.

Train journalists and students from institutions of higher learning on covering GBV with sensitivity and using the principles of good journalism.

Deploy journalists and media students to to cover stories on GBV and 16 day activities.

Cyber dialogues


Cyber dialogues


Strategic communications workshops


Cyber dialogues


  • Various planning, monitoring and evaluation instruments, these include:
    • Plans from councils and networks
    • Event registration and participants forms
    • Gender Justice citizen score cards
    • Knowledge and attitude surveys<
    • SADC Gender Justice and Local Government Protocol Quiz
    • Evaluation forms
  • Materials including:
    • Fact sheets À“ Sixteen Days of activism and gender and climate justice
    • Banners
    • Posters
    • T shirts
  • Media outputs and information including:
    • GBV opinion and commentary articles
    • Staff diaries
    • “IÀ stories
  • Reports including:
    • Workshop reports
    • Face-to-face discussions
    • Cyber dialogues
    • Take back the night marches


  • Awareness: The 16 Days Campaign activities increases awareness on gender based violence and GBV provisions in the SADC Gender Protocol.
  • Assessment: Critical assessment on performance of local councils in addressing GBV relative to the provisions of the SADC Protocol.
  • Increased participation: Increased participation in the campaign through partnerships with local government, local communities, GEM networks, institutions of higher learning and faith based organisations among others.
  • Localising the campaign: Generating a groundswell of activity at local level for ending gender violence.


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