The 16 days from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day have been dedicated for the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign.
The international campaign originated from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute coordinated by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991 is a time to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world. This year marks 25 years since the start of the campaign.
Violence against women is a global issue that touches everyone. “In Sri Lanka, one out of four females is sexually abused by the time they reach 18 years of age in Sri Lanka,” says the National Forum against Gender-based Violence.
To mark the campaign in Sri Lanka, the National Forum against Gender-based Violence held a press conference on 25 November 2016 at the UN Compound in Colombo. Building on the momentum and success achieved from the 16 days of activism campaigns in the past, the National Forum urged all Sri Lankans to come together and take necessary action towards achieving a GBV-free Sri Lanka.
Addressing the conference, the Chair of the National Forum Against GBV and the UNFPA Representative, Mr. Alain Sibenaler, said: “It is an honour for UNFPA to take leadership in chairing the National Forum Against Gender-based Violence. Since 2005, the Forum has played a pivotal role as a national facilitator in taking actionable steps towards eliminating GBV in Sri Lanka. The diverse representation of the Forum provides a rich composition of knowledge and expertise; and it is indeed a privilege for UNFPA to have been entrusted to Chair the Forum and to engage closely with this exceptional group of people.”
At the event, the official website for the National Forum Against GBV was launched. The website includes a unique feature titled ‘Real Stories’, which allows the public to anonymously share their stories regarding any GBV incident that they may have encountered.
At the event, the European Union also officially launched a video featuring cricketing duo Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena. The video, which is available on the EU Sri Lanka web and social media platforms, advocates for the elimination of GBV in Sri Lanka and delivers a message to the public about the different roles women play, how they’re critical to every aspect of society, and how a large percentage of women have experienced violence. View the video here.
The National Forum Against GBV is a collective of 50 organizations representing Government agencies, UN agencies, national and international non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, and individual experts in the field. The Forum, which has evolved in to a National-level platform for coordinated advocacy and collective actions against GBV, is chaired by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Sri Lanka.
(Photo: From left to right: Goodwill Ambassador on Women’s Rights, Ministry of Women and Child Affairs – Ms. Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala, Counsellor of the EU Delegation – Mr. Paul Godfrey, Chair of the National GBV Forum & Representative of UNFPA – Mr. Alain Sibenaler, Chairperson of of the National Committee on Women – Mrs. Swarna Sumanasekera, and GBV Forum Member/Country Director of Plan International – Mr. Supriyanto.)