Why do we care about 16 Days of Activism? Because there’s…no excuse!
“V4C is a programme that enables the environment for gender equality. As a team, we have decided to focus on social norm change. Either we get a law to change social norms or we get a large number of people to change their existing norms so it becomes an acceptable and recognised norms”
– Wumi Asubiaro Dada, V4C
25 November marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which kicks off ‘16 Days of Activism’ – a global campaign calling for action to address the endemic levels of violence meted out against women and girls worldwide.
According to UN Women, one of the major barriers to realising an end to this violence is the substantial shortfall in the resources needed to make change happen. We caught up with Voices for Change (V4C) Lead on Political and Governance Processes, Wumi Asubairo Dada and Brand Adviser, Wura Tunde-Anjous to discover what this year’s 16 days of Activism holds for Nigeria and to find out how V4C is supporting its partners and stakeholders to raise awareness.
Why is 16 days of Activism important?
Wumi: 16 days of Activism begins on 25 November and because violence is considered a human right issue, it ends on 10 December, which is International Human Rights Day. Over the years, the 16 days campaign has become notable because the world focuses its attention on the issue of violence against women. People create awareness, provide support and render services to facilitate this cause. Civil society activists and world leaders speak widely about these issues.
What does this means for Nigeria?
Wumi: It is an opportunity to reach out to more people as Violence Against Women and Girls is a very real issue for many women in Nigeria. According to the Attitudes, Practices, Social Norms (APSN) Survey Report published in 2015, “The large majority of Nigerian Youth disapprove of Violence against Women; yet, two out of five young women report still experiencing Violence Against Women occasionally”. It is an opportunity to tell people where they need to get help. It is likely that one of the outcomes will be that women will gain more confidence to report violence because as people see what constitutes violence, they are more likely to report. As Nigerians, we need more people to see violence beyond the physical. It is socially not acceptable in Nigeria and it needs to be seen widely as that. This same APSN survey report shows that more than 7 out of 10 young people do not approve other hitting women in their household.
So far, has there been any research done to measure the impact of the 16 days of Activism in Nigeria?
Wunmi: Yes, research was conducted in 2010 by WRAPPA and it was discovered that there was high reportage of issues of violence against women. Reportage increased because people became more aware of what constitutes violence and they were more confident to report it. This was mainly because of the attention (such as the 16 days of activism) given to the subject through the campaign.
The media were trained on how to report on issues of violence against women by being more considerate of the victims rather than celebrating the perpetrators in their style of reporting. There were lots of meetings with law enforcement officers to get them aware and reduce the scourge of violence against women. Even the Ministry of Women Affairs had a workshop with the road safety officials on this issue.
Why is this so important to V4C’s objectives?
To enable the environment for gender equality, we have decided we will focus on social norm change. This is important because violence against women is seen as culturally acceptable. So, we either get a law to change this acceptance or we get a large number of people to change the existing behavior to behaviors that are supportive of women. We have decided to focus on three different areas; violence, leadership and decision-making. Therefore, for us in V4C, the opportunities of 16 Days of Activism are too big to miss if we are working on changing people’s attitudes and behaviors. It is an opportunity to further promote what we are doing and to see some changes that we are trying to achieve such as the increase in the amount of people denouncing violence. We have committed to reducing the amount of people that act violently and this is a great opportunity to do so.
So what activities are lined up for the year?
Wura: The brand ‘Purple’ is a lifestyle brand that speaks to young people. It speaks their language and about the issues important to them. Purple has decided there is “No Excuse!”. Purple will be giving a massive shout out in Enugu, Lagos, Kaduna and Kano through a ton of different ways; radio shows, campus activities, live roadshows, debates etc. All events calling people of Nigeria to accept and shout loud that there is NO EXCUSE for violence against women and girls.
Purple will be inspiring change for young people to speak up and speak out. We make nine-day rounds starting with Lagos, then Enugu and return back to Lagos to close the event with an eye catching show.
What should we expect for the closing event?
Wura: The closing event will hold on 10 December in Lagos to mark the end of 16 days. Young people will get the chance to walk around 4 different ‘Purple’ experiences in a gallery style. Each exhibition room will have a different experience and activity, challenging young people’s perceptions, attitudes and promoting them to take NO EXCUSE for violence.
For updates over the next 16 days, follow @V4C_Nigeria and use the hashtags #16days #NoExcuse
Wumi Asubairo Dada and Wura Tunde-Anjous were interviewed by Enitan Okediji, V4C Communications Adviser for Knowledge Management and Learning.