UN Iraq joins global 16-day campaign against gender-based violence

UN Iraq joins global 16-day campaign against gender-based violence Photo: Sarmad Al-Safy, PIO, UNAMI

By Aurora V. Alambra, PIO, UNAMI

Baghdad, 3 December 2013 – An ‘Orange Day’ Photo Shoot on End Violence Against Women Day (EVAW), followed by a Programme cum Arts Exhibit and today’s Human Rights training workshop for female Iraqi journalists – these are just some of the series of activities rolled out by the United Nations family in Iraq as its contribution to the global annual 16-day campaign against gender-based violence. 


This year’s theme: ‘From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence against Women.’ 


UN Iraq’s 16-day campaign started with the ‘Orange Day’ Photo Shoot on 25 November, the day officially designated by the UN General Assembly in 1999 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Converging for the Photo Shoot all garbed in orange were female and male staff members alike from UNAMI and UN agencies based in Iraq including UN Women, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNDP. 


The UN Secretary-General’s “UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign” had earlier proclaimed the 25th of every month as Orange Day, with the color orange symbolizing the campaign to eliminate violence against women and girls. 


Taking the opportunity on EVAW Day, Mr. Nickolay Mladenov, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), appealed to Iraqi leaders to “take concrete steps to enact and enforce laws which prevent and respond to gender-based violence – including holding perpetrators accountable –, and to create a framework for better outcomes for women and communities.” 


SRSG Mladenov called for a fundamental change in mindsets that have been allowing violence to continue, as he deplored in his EVAW Day message that in Iraq, “violence still intersects with nearly every facet of women’s lives, including at home, at school, in the workplace and in society,” even as the National Strategy on Combating Violence against Women for 2013-2017 had been endorsed several months earlier by the Council of Ministers in March 2013. 


Two days later on 27 November, the United Nations in Iraq held a Programme & Arts Exhibit featuring various artwork on women empowerment by the “Fananoo Al-Iraq (Artists of Iraq) Syndicate” including a dance drama titled “Anta wa Heya (You and Her),” a musical performance by Mohammed Al-Attar rendering five local songs on the “aud” (guitar/lute), plus a display of the artists’ paintings and photographs of women and girls. 


In his remarks at the Programme, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Political Affairs Mr. Gyorgy Busztin stressed, “More women are needed in politics, security and law enforcement institutions – and women need access to decent jobs and economic opportunities.” 


“A more complex approach needs to be taken into account – there is need for education programmes that teach human rights, equality and mutual respect, and inspire young people to take leadership on ending violence against women and girls,” stressed DSRSG Busztin on addressing gender-based violence including violence against women. 


Mr. Buzstin noted that “all forms of violence against women and girls relate to negative practices, poverty, illiteracy and inadequate representation and participation of women in politics, security and legal institutions.” He cited statistics showing that women and girls continue to be “disproportionately the majority of the victims and survivors of gender-based violence including domestic violence, honor killings, female genital mutilation and early and forced marriage.” 


The Programme was attended by Iraqi officials and other UN Iraq leaders including UN Women Country Director Frances Guy who, in her EVAW Day message, highlighted the need for continuing action on EVAW, and for the creation of the appropriate framework enabling women to enjoy physical safety as well as economic security. “It is crucial that all Iraqis support this important goal,” Ms. Guy had stressed. 


Among the Iraqi officials who graced the event were Member of Parliament Dr. Intisar Al Jabouri, Chair of the Council of Representatives Committee on Women and Children's Affairs; Human Rights Commission Member Sallama Al Khafaji; and women’s rights activist Shatha Al Bosi, all members of the Women for Lasting Peace Initiative. 


Presidential Advisor on Women Salma Jabou also attended the event where around 40 artists lugged their paintings and photographs for exhibition, with two young artists joining them – 10-year-old photographer Qamar Hashim who exhibited two photos of teen-age girls, and nine-year-old Azal Uday who exhibited three of her paintings of modern ladies. 


The Programme had started with a short film showing of “One Billion Rising”; and concluded with Mr. Busztin handing out Certificates of Appreciation to the participating artists. 


And still one other UN Iraq activity towards women empowerment, the UNAMI Human Rights Office organized a two-day Training Course on International Human Rights Principles and Standards for Female Journalists, participated by some 27 female media members from all over Iraq.   


More EVAW activities follow towards marking the 16 Days Campaign Against Gender-Based Violence, culminating in events celebrating Human Rights Day, 10 December. 


Background on Orange Day: http://endviolence.un.org/orangeday.shtml


Additional Info

  • Agency: UNAMI

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