Sixteen Days of Activism on Gender Violence 2015

Sixteen Days of Activism on Gender Violence 2015

Date: November 30, 2015
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Concept Note

From Peace in the home to Peace in the world:
End Violence! Empower Women!
Make Education Safe for All !

25 November À“ 10 December 2015

Key Dates
Southern Africa
GL’s Theory of Change and the Sixteen Day campaign
Sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI)

This concept paper concerns the 2015 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 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 in 2015 under the banner, From Peace in the home to Peace in the world: End Violence! Empower women!

The overall objectives of GL’s 2015 Sixteen Days campaign are to:

Key dates
The Sixteen Days of Activism campaign runs from the 25 November to the 10 December 2014. The key dates to note during the campaign are:

  • 19 November: Women’s Entrepreneurship Day
  • 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
Starting our campaign on Women’s Entrepreneurship Day
Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED) is a day on which the work of women entrepreneurs is observed and discussed, held on the nineteenth of November of each year. The inaugural event was held in New York City at the United Nations, with additional events being held simultaneously in several other countries. 144 nations overall recognized the first WED in 2014, which included the presentation of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Pioneer Awards. The organization behind WED also has an ambassadorship and fellowship program.

Women’s Entrepreneurship Day was founded and implemented by Wendy Diamond, after volunteering with the Adelante Foundation who provides microcredit to low income women while in Honduras. Upon her return to the US she decided she wanted to develop something to help this and similar philanthropic causes. The first day was held on November 19, 2014, and was observed in 144 countries that year.

It was described by Fortune Magazine as “a global movement to celebrate and support female founders and shed light on some of their challenges.” Forbes Magazine wrote that the intention was also “to mobilize a global network of female business owners, entrepreneurs and change makers who support and empower this community of women entrepreneurs and their businesses.”The event was proclaimed an “official day” by both New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Read more:

Gender violence remains one of the most telling indicators of gender inequality. Despite the several constitutional and legislative advances to gender equality in the SADC region, levels of gender violence remain exceptionally high in all countries.

The year 2015 marks the 24th year of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, initiated in 1991 and coordinated by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership. Participation in the Campaign has seen over 5,478 organizations, policymakers, governments, UN agencies and countless individuals from over 180 countries worldwide. Together we have brought attention to issues of racism, sexism, cultures of violence, homophobia and called for the implementation of human rights obligations, including the right to health and reproductive rights, and end to militarism and gender-based violence, among others. The strength and longevity of the Campaign is due to these thousands of participants like you.

This year, the 16 Days Campaign will focus specifically on the relationship between militarism and the right to education in situations of violent conflict, in relative peace, and variety of education settings, while continuing to make the links with militarism, as an encompassing patriarchal system of discrimination and inequality based on our relationships to power.

Education is a public good and fundamental human right recognized in Article 26 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and upheld in various international and regional human rights conventions and treaties. Nonetheless, the right to education is subject to political, economic, and social shifts and upheavals, leaving certain groups (especially women, girls, people with disabilities, LGBTI people, migrants, and indigenous people) particularly vulnerable and liable to being denied this crucial right. Recent data shows that approximately 38 million people are internally displaced worldwide, while 16.7 million are refugees. Girls and young women in particular are most adversely impacted by insecurity and crisis, with the most recent estimates showing that 31 million girls at primary level and 34 million at lower secondary level are not enrolled in school , and 15 million girls and 10 million boys will never see the inside of a classroom. As many as 58 million children of primary school age do not have access to education, with approximately half of these (28.5 million) living in conflict affected areas. Read more…

Southern Africa
Despite the significant strides made in the SADC region to respond to gender violence, it remains one of the most flagrant violations of human rights and impediments to equality between women and men in Southern Africa. Historically the region has been wracked by the violence of white minority rule and various civil wars. 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. 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. Gender Link’s Violence Against Women (VAW) Baseline Studies in six Southern African countries form part of a research project aimed at measuring the extent, drivers, effect, cost, prevention, protection, programmes and participation in the fight to rid our region of this scourge. 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 is reported. Many of the cases that are lodged with the police get withdrawn.

Since 2006 GL has worked with ten governments in developing National Action Plans to End Gender Violence (NAPs). NAPs are blueprints or frameworks that provide for comprehensive, multi-sector, and sustained actions for addressing VAW at country level. The NAPs allow all sectors to co-ordinate and systematise actions and building on initiatives so that approaches remain adaptive and responsive for the specified time frames. The model NAP framework outlines the scope of the GBV problem within a country, identifies the structural causes and drivers and sets actions to address the problem through actions in the area of legal reform, provision of services, prevention as well as co-ordination, monitoring and evaluation approaches. For each of the actions or interventions responsibility for championing is allocated to either a lead government department or organisation. NAPs involve drafting actions in consultation the different stakeholders to ensure effective implementation. The development of NAPs received added impetus through the launch of UN Secretary General’s UNite to end GBV campaign, and the adoption of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development (SGP) in 2008. The adoption and implementation of multi sector NAPs is one of the five key expected outcomes of the UN Secretary General’s UNite to end GBV campaign which is being run until 2015. The SADC Protocol obliges Member States to adopt integrated approaches, including institutional cross sector structures, with the aim of reducing current levels of gender based violence, by half by 2030.

GL has worked with governments in Botswana, Lesotho, Mauritius, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe to conduct household surveys to establish the prevalence of GBV. Situating GBV work within the broader SADC framework of halving gender violence by 2015, GL faced the challenge of how to measure progress, when there is so little valid data on actual levels of GBV. In 2010, GL successfully piloted a comprehensive set of indicators for measuring gender violence that involves a prevalence survey, better use of administrative data, media and discourse analysis, and qualitative tools.

Findings of the GBV indicators research

The GBV indicators research project has significantly deepened its focus on contributing to knowledge production in the area of gender based violence. The study conducted to date in Botswana, Mauritius, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and South African Provinces of Gauteng, Limpopo, Western Cape and Kwazulu Natal, takes place against the backdrop of the Southern African Protocol on Gender and Development; aims to end current levels of gender violence in the region by 2063. 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.

At the community level, GL has linked its governance and justice work through flagship programmes for ending GBV through 400 Centres of Excellence for gender in local government. These bring together research, policy and practice in a unique on-the-job capacity-building project that is continuously monitored for its impact. GL will use the results of GBV Baseline studies to strengthen GBV action plans in 287 councils that form part of the COE process. Good practices are gathered and shared at the SADC Gender Protocol Summit.

Based on GL’s Gender Based Violence (GBV) Indicators studies, which show that the most violence takes place behind closed doors, perpetrated by family and intimate partners, and highlights the importance of peace in the home and the need for women to be safe in both private and public spheres. GL is broadening the theme and placing special emphasis on economic empowerment as key to addressing GBV. Since last year GL has contributed to changing the lives of over 1000 women, with the roll out of the Entrepreneurship Training Programme for survivors of GBV from five different countries of Southern Africa. Watch the video which showcases the innovative work being done by Gender Links in 100 council through the Entrepreneurship programme and over 400 local authorities across Southern Africa. GL developed the programme because of the growing belief that to achieve gender equality, we have to improve women’s economic status. One of the biggest challenges in achieving gender equality is GBV, and economically disempowered women are less able to escape this abuse.

The aim of the programme is to economically empower women, helping to increase their self-confidence, agency and independence. The policy brief on Economic Justice: An empowerment pathway to ending gender based violence describes the impediments to women’s economic empowerment in the SADC region; and outlines strategy and policy issues that need to be urgently addressed in order to effectively empower women and thereby, make progress towards ending violence against women. During the Sixteen Days of Activism, GL also aims to sensitise people on economic violence and the importance of empowerment, calling on people across the region to empower themselves and others; help advance peace in the home and on the streets; and ensure we end GBV and achieve gender equality.

GL’s Theory of Change and the Sixteen Day campaign
The ecological model is a theoretical framework that explains why some of the violence occurs, why some men are more violent than others and why some women are consistently the survivors of abuse. Understanding the reasons for and the factors associated with experience or perpetration of gender violence is a precursor in the design of gender violence prevention interventions. This model considers the complex interplay between individual, relationship, community, and societal factors. This model shows how violence is rooted in women’s lack of self- worth and self- esteem at the individual level; compounded by attitudes, traditions and customs at the close relationship and community level; and unresponsive systems and structures at the societal level. While the model identifies the arenas and the factors that put people at risk for experiencing or perpetrating violence it also locates prevention strategies in a continuum of activities that address multiple levels of the model.

GL’s Theory of Change (ToC) is premised on the ecological model which assumes that the vicious negative cycle of VAW can be turned into a virtuous positive cycle by working around different initiatives that target all levels of the model from individual to societal. GL’s work in the gender justice programme seeks to “turn around” the layers of attitudes, behaviours and practices at the level of family, community and society through a simple slogan that has been translated into dozens of local languages À“ “peace begins at home”. Communities can be mobilised to reject negative practices, attitudes and tendencies. Women and girls can be mobilised to claim their rights. The growing men-for-change movement is testimony to the fact that boys and men can rise above and challenge social norms À“ hence the slogan, “men of quality believe in equality.” GL’s integrated model for ending gender violence community by community, and strengthening the resilience of survivors of this scourge, is also rooted in GL’s Theory of Change which posits that gender inequality begins in the home; is perpetuated by the family; schools; work place; community, custom, culture, religion and tradition as well structures within society more broadly.

Diagrammatic representation of the Sixteen Days 2015

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

  1. Individual level: Profiling survivors of violence
  • Profiling of survivors of violence through the publishing of daily I stories”.
  • Train women on IT and to engage in cyber dialogues. Women will share their experiences. across borders and reports of the cyber dialogues will be published in an online newsletter.
  • Profiling of survivors of violence through multimedia.
  1. Close relations À“ interactive debates and shared learning on ending GBV
  • Disseminating the findings of the VAW studies through drama.
  • Community interactions and discussions through various social media platforms which are cyber dialogues and google hangouts chats.
  1. Community level: Strengthened Local action to end GBV
  • Disseminate the findings of the SADC Gender Protocol Barometer creatively at local levels
  • Review, assessment and prioritisation for LG GBV action plans
  • Conduct community dialogues, workshops and marches
  • Multimedia dissemination of findings – pamphlets, infographics, radio and TV.
  • 50 councils in ten countries will actively participate in 16 Days lobbying and activism aimed at ending violence and empowering women now and post 2015.

Promoting Economic Empowerment

At the local level the Sixteen Days creates a concrete link between national policy initiatives and the practical implementation of strategies to address GBV in communities. One of GL’s ground breaking model links survivors of gender violence to economic opportunities opened by local gender action plans. Since last year GL has contributed to changing the lives of over 1000 women, with the roll out of the Entrepreneurship Training Programme for survivors of GBV from five different countries of Southern Africa. The programme encompasses both life skills and entrepreneurship training to equip women at both personal and business levels. It consists of two five day training sessions, followed by the third phase which introduces the women to potential resources and opportunities within their councils. It pushes GL’s ToC through testing the link between economic empowerment and ending GBV, a relatively new and important area for gathering evidence globally. With its slogan, winning the war on gender violence, community by community, the COE model is a global first in engaging local government so extensively in the fight against gender violence.

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.

  1. Public realm: National Policy Level, Structural and strategic efforts to end GBV
  • Conduct advocacy during the campaign to popularise the attitudes survey findings.
  • Disseminate and contextualise the impact of the Global Media Monitoring Project findings, lobbying for attitudinal and behavioural change in media reporting and perpetration of GBV.
  • Lobby other countries to conduct baseline research on the prevalence of GBV
  • Multimedia dissemination of findings – pamphlets, infographics, radio and TV.
  • Strengthen partnerships with other civil society organisations, governments institutions and the private sector through information sharing and participating in national advocacy activities.

Gender violence, elections and women’s political participation
A key area of focus during this 16 days of Activism is on gender and governance. Women’s political participation and representation is central to achieving the full dividends of democracy. When women are marginalised in politics, issues that concern them, children and youth tend to be compromised at the political decisionÀ“making level. When women are equal partners in decisionÀ“making, and their experiences considered and their voices heard, national and development policies are more inclusive and have a broader influence and impact. This makes a difference in people’s lives, which supports the need to have more women in local and national parliaments.

While the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) only had a target on women’s participation in parliament, the SADC Gender Protocol went further and tracked progress at the local government and cabinet levels. The 50/50 target is one of the best known of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Gender Protocol targets. The period has seen a paradigm shift from the call for 30% women in decision-making prior to 2005, to gender parity in the current period.

  • GL will dovetail the 16 Days lobbying and advocacy initiatives to highlight the pertinent need for quotas and electoral systems reform that aims to create level ground and opportunities for women to ascend to politics and leadership in the following countries having local or national elections in 2015/2016.

Elections planned 2015-2016





July 2015



27 November 2015



Village (later 2015)



September 2015



2015 À“ TBC

2015 TBC


Late 2015

Late 2015

South Africa

Early 2016



September 2016

September 2016

GL is also working with more than 100 media Centres of Excellence in ten Southern African countries, including Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Zambia and Mauritius, to develop and implement gender policies through more gender aware coverage. As part of ongoing efforts to enhance journalists’ understanding of gender based violence, GL will conduct training workshops in 9 SADC countries ahead of this year’s 16 Days campaign. These workshops aim to equip journalists with the necessary knowledge and skills to improve their coverage of gender based violence in general. Working in consultation with the Local Governance COE programme, media facilitators will accompany journalists to local councils and communities where they will interview members of the community and compile stories on gender based violence, health and HIV and AIDS as well as education. Since World AIDS day falls within the 16 day period, it is strategic that the media explores the critical link between GBV, Education and HIV and AIDS.

During the 16 days, GL will share the findings of media coverage of gender and diversity issues from the latest Global Media Monitoring Project. The GMMP looked at coverage of different topics including GBV, economy, HIV and AIDS among others.

  • GL News Service: A special series of multi-media content will be produced during Sixteen Days and will focus on the theme of the day and related themes specific to GBV and Education as well as content that profiles survivors.
  • Engaging social media, google hangout and cyber-dialogues to debate and discuss GBV, economic agency, empowerment and other intersecting issues.
  • All content will be shared with media, COEs and GIME Institutions for republishing.
  • Daily mail shots to inform people of activities and how and when they can participate.
  • GL has also come up with daily themes over the 16 Days linked to key resources, dissemination of first-hand accounts on GBV and how women are reclaiming their lives through “I Stories,” as well as most significant results of GL’s diverse but linked programmes geared towards ending GBV and promoting gender equality. The varied activities during 16 Days will be covered by the GL News Services and discussed in dialogues and google hangouts.
  • Local government is the tier of government closest to the people and very present at community level. Efforts in 2015 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 Sixteen Days campaign effectively.

The Global Alliance on Media and Gender (GAMAG) General assembly will be actively engaged in this year’s 16 Days campaigns. This year’s campaigns take place at a time when media partners gather in Geneva Switzerland for the Global Alliance on Media and Gender first General Assembly. GL will use the occasion of the general assembly to explore how media can strengthen or improve its coverage of gender based violence. The general assembly, which happens from 9-10 December, will see GL coordinating cyber dialogues on the occasion of the International Human Rights Day. GL will seek to partner with the advocacy sub-committee to drive the dialogues.

Sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI)

As part of the 16 days campaign, GL’s media programme will explore the vital link between gender based violence and Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI). Over the years, South Africa has witnessed what is loosely termed ‘corrective rape’ whereby non-conforming individuals are subjected to sexual assault a way of ‘correcting’ their sexual preferences. This points to the need for awareness raising around the subject and also upholding individual’s right to sexual identity.

As part of the Advancing Effective Communication on LGBTI rights, GL’s media programme is bringing together, gender, media and LGBTI activists from East, West and Southern Africa, to share strategies and knowledge in the area of media and LGBTI. GL will host a workshop and seminar for delegates from East, West and Southern Africa. The seminar comes at a time when GL is wrapping up the Gender and Media Progress Study (GMPS). The GMPS explored how LGBTI is covered in the media and also looked at LGBTI related gender based violence cases reported in the media. GL will partner with LGBTI organisations from the three regions of Africa. The preliminary indications are that LGBTI is a not newsworthy as evidenced by the low number of news articles from the three regions. GL will use this meeting to draw up a media checklist as well as advocacy strategy around sexual orientation and gender identity.

The workshop and seminar will take place in Johannesburg, whilst other countries will join through video conferencing. Mauritius will work with the Young Queer Alliance to anchor the discussion from the GL Mauritius Office.


  • Various planning, monitoring and evaluation instruments, these include:
    • Strengthened GBV local action plans from councils
    • Event registration and participants forms
    • Gender Justice citizen score cards
    • Knowledge and attitude surveys
    • SADC Gender Protocol Quiz
    • Evaluation forms
  • Materials including:
    • Fact sheets À“ GBV and Education and training
    • Banners
    • Posters
    • T shirts
  • Media outputs and information including:
    • Multi-media content on GBV, education and intersecting issues (GLNS)
    • “I” stories
    • Infographics À“ GBV and Education and training
    • Videos of the drama shows
  • Reports including:
    • Workshop reports
    • Face-to-face discussions
    • Google Hangout
    • Marches


  • Awareness: The Sixteen Days Campaign activities increases awareness on gender based violence and GBV provisions in the SADC Gender Protocol particularly the Post 2015 agenda
  • 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.

Dahlberg LL, Krug EG. Violence-a global public health problem. In: Krug E, Dahlberg LL, Mercy JA, Zwi AB, Lozano R, eds. World Report on Violence and Health. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2002:1À“56.

African Woman and Child Feature service, 2010.”Beyond Numbers: Narrating the Impact of Women’s Leadership in Africa.”

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